When Paula Dammon leaves the hospital for the day, her work isn’t always done.
“I’m a nurse 24 hours a day,” Dammon says.
A case manager in orthopedics at Mayo Clinic Health System, Dammon, who has been with the hospital for 19 years, makes herself available to patients and their families even on evenings and weekends, checking in with them or taking their calls. Dammon provides education to patients pre-surgery, and works with providers and surgeons to facilitate any needs. Postoperation, she keeps in contact to see how they are healing and answer any questions.
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“With so much going on — (surgery) is very overwhelming — if I can help in any way I’m happy to,” Dammon says.
For colleague Diann Klos, LPN Ambulatory, who nominated Dammon for a Heart of Healthcare award, Dammon’s commitment to patients is exemplary. When Klos’ husband had knee surgery, Dammon was “caring, selfless” and “empathetic.”
“In this world of ‘rush,’ Paula was calm –always — reassuring, compassionate, and listened with her heart,” Klos wrote in her nomination letter.
When Klos’ husband developed intense swelling and pain after his procedure, he became fearful and anxious, Klos says, and “I, as the caretaker, was not the person he wanted to listen to. Paula never made me feel like she didn’t have time to care about what I was expressing as a caregiver…she helped my husband by advising what was best and communicating with us multiple times on her days off.”
Healthcare providers, Dammon says, are “always thinking about our patients,” and when they need to talk, she “doesn’t mind at all.”
“It’s a privilege when a patient lets me into their life in a small way and they trust me,” Dammon says. “If I can make a moment, their day, their experience better for them — that is the most rewarding for me.”
Her nomination, Dammon says, is “very appreciated,” but she says a “thank you” is never expected. The Klos’s, she expresses, “were the nicest people — I think I almost owe them the award.”
During the pandemic, Dammon, the face of calm, experienced initial anxiety. In her profession, change happens every day, but the coronavirus was overwhelming and many surgical procedures had to be delayed. Still, Dammon says, there were some positives, with the pandemic accelerating some important changes like increasing virtual programming. For those recovering from surgery, she notes, coming in to the clinic is not the easiest or most comfortable, and this allows them to get the information they need in the comfort of their home.
Over the last two decades, nursing has been her passion, but as a child, Dammon wanted to care for animals as a veterinarian. But after high school, she decided to follow in the footsteps of family members and try nursing courses at Viterbo.
“I found it so exciting and fun to learn,” Dammon says.
Now, her daughter too is pursuing nursing, currently in school and loving it. As her daughter was growing up, Dammon often enthused about her work and her patients, showing true excitement for her job.
“She didn’t understand it as a kid,” Dammon says. “She truly gets now what I’ve been talking about.”
Emily Pyrek can be reached at [email protected].