A Day in the Life of a CHOP Home Care Nurse

Published on in Children's View

A Day in the Life of Kayla Ottey CHOP NurseKayla Ottey, BSN, RN, has been a nurse with CHOP Home Care since September 2015. This is a day in her life.

6 a.m.

Wakes up. Makes breakfast for her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Rhea.

8:30 a.m.

Drops Rhea off at school.

10 a.m.

Reviews the charts of the patients she’ll travel to see today — including a toddler who recently completed chemotherapy. “I can’t wait to talk to her mom and find out how she’s doing,” she says.

10:36 a.m.

Backs her Honda CRV out of the driveway. It’s stocked with personal protective equipment, central line dressings, chemo spill cleanup kits, FedEx envelopes, and forms in English, Arabic and Spanish. “You never know what you’re going to run into,” Ottey says. “Every day is so different.”

11 a.m.

First stop: an elementary school in Doylestown, PA. In the nurses’ office, Ottey mixes her patient’s medication and loads it into a syringe. (CHOP’s 29 Home Care nurses and six respiratory therapists often visit schools to care for children who need services that school nurses aren’t able to provide.)

11:09 a.m.

The patient barely notices when Ottey slips the needle into a vein in her hand. “I’ve been doing this for six years,” the 10-year-old says proudly.

12:30 p.m.

Picks up a chicken salad wrap at Whole Foods.

1:30 p.m.

Stops at the Home Care office at the CHOP Care Network Specialty Care and Surgery Center in King of Prussia, PA, to get more supplies: tubes to collect blood samples, stickers, a kit to show families how to give injections. “So much of my job is about teaching,” Ottey says.

2:14 p.m.

Joins a dietitian, clinical coordinator and pharmacist in a conference room for “rounds.” They share updates on many of the 130 or so patients who are currently receiving Home Care nursing services, including a child whose fear of needles makes his treatment challenging. They decide to ask Child Life for helpful strategies.

2:42 p.m.

Pulls out of the parking lot. Next stop: Philadelphia, 18 miles southeast.

3:19 p.m.

Is happy to find parking just steps from the family’s home.

3:25 p.m.

Two-year-old Grace, who recently completed chemotherapy, watches the Wiggles while Ottey checks her blood pressure. “It’s like a little hug, right?” Ottey says.

3:30 p.m.

Chats with Grace’s mom, Hope, while changing the caps on Grace’s central line. “Her scans came back great,” says Hope. “She’s my little superhero.”

3:40 p.m.

After checking to see if the family needs any supplies — Home Care’s 14 drivers deliver everything from oxygen tanks to custom-prepared formula directly to families — Ottey puts her scale and stethoscope back in her nursing bag. Grace and Hope follow her to the door to say goodbye.

5:56 p.m.

Last stop: the Perkasie, PA., home of 15-year-old Anna, who has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. She greets Ottey at the door with a smile: It’s been a few weeks since her last visit.

6 p.m.

Updates Anna’s list of medications and gently replaces the dressing on the central line in her chest. “I’m not hurting you, am I?” she asks.

6:20 p.m.

Spends a few minutes catching up with the family — Anna just started a new school, and Ottey wants all the details.

6:45 p.m.

“Thank you for the lovely dressing,” Anna says as Ottey heads to her car. It’s raining — hard.

7 p.m.

Home. Her fiancé, Craig, is making dinner. Rhea jumps into her arms: “Mommy!”

7:15 p.m.

Checks email, updates Anna’s chart and logs how far she drove today: 95 miles.

7:45 p.m.

Dinnertime. She’s not on call this evening, so it will be an early night.

8:30 p.m.

Falls asleep in Rhea’s bed after reading bedtime stories.