Mount Desert Island Hospital Nurse Julie Pelletier, RN has been nominated for Maine Hospital Association’s Caregiver of the Year Award. As a Cancer Patient Navigator and Palliative Care Nurse, Julie cares for patients and their families dealing with cancer diagnoses and serious illness, providing hope, support and optimism during what can be an extremely difficult time. Her patients find that Julie’s strength and sunny disposition—often reflected in her wardrobe with a well-placed pop of color or pleasing print—instantly sets them at ease.
Julie was inspired to become a nurse after she experienced complications during her pregnancy with her daughter. She was put on bed rest and spent significant time in the hospital. “It really opened my eyes,” she says. “I was just so blown away by the labor and delivery nurses—even when you don’t know what you need, they know what you need.”
Today, she is a dedicated nurse with 14 years’ experience in advanced critical care and life support, intensive care, post-anesthesia care, pediatric care, infusion therapy, long-term care, skilled nursing care, palliative care and cancer patient navigation.
While patients tell her they find comfort in her strength, it is theirs that impresses her. “It takes a lot of courage to let me in and I’m so grateful for that opportunity,” she says. “It is extremely rewarding and humbling to be a part of my patients’ lives.”
Julie is a consummate team player who is always willing to go above and beyond or stay late to help a patient or a fellow staff member, say her colleagues. She was also instrumental in launching MDI Hospital’s Cancer Patient Navigator program in 2018, made possible by a grant from the Maine Cancer Foundation. The program, led by Julie and fellow navigator Heather Sinclair, LSW, provides an extra tier of support for those dealing with cancer diagnoses by addressing their physical, social and emotional needs. “Julie is caring, attentive and compassionate; she respects each individual’s right to choose how they want their medical care. She is innovative, which is often needed in our rural area which can present unique challenges. Her compassion is evident in every encounter she has with patients,” says Heather. “She works with providers within our hospital system and beyond to make sure that the circle of care is complete and that nothing is left unaddressed.”
Julie’s commitment to patient care is unparalleled, says Vanessa Little, DO, palliative care physician. “One day there was a patient dying in the hospital, comfort measures were in place and he knew he was dying. His family was unable to come and Julie sat with him, grabbed his favorite book off of his hospital tray and began reading aloud to him.”
Listening to her patients and advocating for them is something that comes naturally to Julie says Megan Tibbetts, Integrated Care Team Assistant. “Julie takes as much time as needed to fully listen to her patients and their families express their physical, emotional, and practical needs. She asks clarifying, thoughtful questions of her patients to better understand what is most important to them, and what barriers they may be facing.”
The winner of the 2019 Caregiver of the Year Award is set to be announced Wednesday, June 19 at the Maine Hospital Association’s 2019 Summer Forum Conference at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.