The nursing profession attracts some of the kindest, most compassionate human beings among us. Those moved to become nurses are not motivated by money or fame, but genuinely desire to help and heal.
One of the most inspiring RNs among us is Cheryl Kane, who, after nearly a quarter of a century of teaching, decided to pursue her dream of becoming a registered nurse.
Today, Cheryl, as Director of Nursing at the Barbara McInnis House at Boston Health Care for the Homeless, is devoting her days to providing care for those who are without homes, struggling and too often suffering including through the cold Massachusetts winters.
The Barbara McInnis House provides short term medical and recuperation services for the homeless who are too sick to be in shelters, but not sick enough to be in a hospital. In addition to providing healthcare, rooms are made available, along with food and clothing, but beyond that those fortunate enough to be taken in are also provided services including patient support groups, washers and dryers for doing their laundry, behavioral health services, dental services, benefits management, and the very important case management and discharge planning support.
Cheryl leads the teams providing healthcare, and encourages all around her – colleagues, assistants, administrators, and the patients themselves.
Cheryl said in an interview, “The homeless patients I interact with keep me honest; they do not tolerate insincerity or phoniness. They’ve also taught me how to be compassionate, and have given me a greater understanding of what compassion is all about.”
The majority of Cheryl’s patients have had lives full of physical and emotional trauma, and their capacity to trust is limited. Cheryl’s initial goal when meeting with a new patient is to develop a sincere relationship of trust, which allows her patients to tell her their story and where they’ve come from. Once Cheryl understands who they are and the unique challenges they face, they can work in partnership to create a healthier outcome.
Cheryl was honored in 2015 with a National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year award, no surprise given her lifetime of service as a teacher, and now an RN.
A nursing colleague says, “At Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Cheryl’s name is synonymous with amazing listener, the person who goes the extra mile for patients and staff, non-judgmental, extraordinary nurse, strong leader and advocate for patients and strongest of all…compassionate caregiver.”
Enjoy this radio story produced as part of DBUR’s Kind World series, inclouding a remarkable story about how Cheryl was healed by a homeless man she aimed to help.
Cheryl continues her teaching in new and inspiring ways – as nurses we inspire each other, through the most challenging times, as the homeless population continues to grow in Boston and other big cities, but also small towns all around the US and around the world.
We are our brothers’ – and our sisters’ – keepers and what Cheryl understands is that in serving others, our hearts are also served.
From the BHCHP YouTube channel: “BHCHP was featured on Chronicle, New England’s popular evening news program. Special thanks to the Chronicle team for spending a few days with us – in the clinics, on the streets, and at the Barbara McInnis House – and capturing our work so well!”
“Max Evans lived on the streets of Boston near the New England Aquarium (full story: http://wbur.fm/1Prxnr1), making his bed between two jersey barriers each night. He was known for being gruff, feisty, and unkempt, but these traits belied an inner graciousness and sincerity that touched many of those around him.
In this Kind World story, Cheryl Kane, a nurse with the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, recalls an unforeseen moment with Max that continues to inform her nursing practice, years later.”