We have proudly known nurse Alice Cresci for quite some time. Her interview is a follow-up from Palomar Pomerado’s Medical Director and Wound Care Specialist, Dr. Roger Schechter, who we featured in September. Alice is currently working with Dr. Schechter at the Pomerado Wound Clinic. We are thrilled to showcase her story here for you as Alice once worked with the Grace Care team as a care manager. We have always admired her passion for advocacy and drive for helping others.
Alice Cresci graduated from Palomar College with an Associate Degree in Nursing and has a UCSD Certificate in Legal Nurse Consulting. She is currently working on an Editing Certificate from UCSD as well.
Throughout her career, Alice has worked primarily in the Emergency Room or other related positions. She once was a Paramedic in Oakland, California and even had her own company teaching and reviewing the performance of other Paramedics. Alice has worked in ER’s in San Diego, Reno, San Francisco, Oakland, Truckee and even Farmville, Virginia. With her Legal Nurse Consulting Certificate, Alice’s career expanded to performing such tasks as becoming an Expert Witness, reviewing and summarizing charts in malpractice suits. She did her Legal Nurse Consultant Internship with the San Diego District Attorney’s Child abuse team, reviewing and summarizing “shaken baby” cases.
Below Alice shares more with us about her experience as a nurse and passion for patient advocacy.
How long have you been a nurse and can you tell us a little about your experience in nursing?
I’m coming up on my 40th anniversary as a RN in 2016 – time flies! Most of my experience as a nurse has been in the ER; from the very first job I had in 1976, it was my first love. Throughout the years I have added some part-time jobs to the mix such as; office pediatrics and general surgery, home care, legal nurse consulting and care management with Grace Care. About six years ago, I took a break from ER to work in interventional radiology for 4 ½ years and now I work at the Wound Care Clinic at Pomerado Hospital.
What has been your favorite position as a nurse?
That’s easy, my favorite position was as a care manager with Grace Care. Hands down I enjoyed it the most. Unfortunately, simple economics drove my decision to leave Grace Care and go back to ER full time.
When Cindy met you years ago it was in ER with one of her patients. What do you remember about that meeting?
I just remember Cindy standing by the nurses’ station. She was so sweet, upbeat and energized about what she was doing for her patient. I was very drawn to her and this new area of work called “care management.” After a short chat, we made a lunch date and became friends immediately. She has always inspired me.
Shortly after that you came to work with Grace Care part time as a RN care manager. How would you describe that time and your role?
I loved it! I was so blessed to work with Grace Care. My job was very satisfying, really getting to know my patients completely and watch their progress. I enjoyed the new position very much and the change from working in the hospital. It was true autonomy for me in a role that used all my nursing skills and human skills together for the good of some incredible people, who I’ll never forget.
You went on to work back at ER full time and now you are at the Pomerado Wound Clinic. Can you describe how these roles are similar and different?
Being at the Wound Clinic is very different from ER in the setting and role that I play. I always say the best thing about wound care is that everybody gets out alive. It sounds grim and funny at the same time, but it’s true and I like it for that.
I had to leave ER because I suddenly lost my hearing (or a little over 50% of it) within a two-month period in 2013. Even though I have hearing aids and hear pretty well now, I didn’t feel safe in the ER anymore. It’s so loud and I was constantly anxious and worried that I might miss a patient’s call or a doctor’s order. So, I left, and it took six months, but I finally found my niche at the Pomerado Wound Care Clinic.
The Wound Clinic is a very fast paced environment and the nurses I work with are amazing! They all are selfless and duty-driven. There’s a lot of love for our patients and each other, which makes it a wonderful place to work. I’m still a wound care “baby”, still on a learning curve when it comes to the clinical dimensions of wound care. It’s a new challenge and I hope I’m never too old for that!
What part does advocacy play in your role as a nurse?
I believe that advocacy is the very heart and soul of nursing. If a nurse isn’t an advocate, there’s something critically missing in their work. Most importantly, the patients will be missing something and the nurse will miss out on the most rewarding part of the job.
Advocacy is what keeps me going, even if whatever job I have is sometimes laden with bureaucracy, too much paperwork, less than desirable managers, short staffing, and all the things that make nursing difficult. Duty drives me every moment and knowing what I CAN do for my patients gives me the energy to put one foot in front of the other and go on – even on tough days!
What is it you appreciate most about nurse care management in general and about Grace Care in particular?
I believe care management takes care of the whole person – physically, mentally and spiritually. You are really able to get to know your patients and become vulnerable in some respects. You build a “protective wall” around your patient and find yourself doing battle sometimes with forces that aren’t always working in the patient’s best interest. Sometimes it’s MD’s, insurance headaches, financial difficulties, and even family dynamics at times. Care management requires constant advocacy and vigilance for the patient and “multi-dimensional” nursing. It made me draw on all the nursing skills I have, in addition to learning the system and its’ resources, using diplomacy (which has never been my strong suit), and practicing plain old common sense.
Cindy has always inspired me with her determination and true heart for the elderly. I have seen miracles involving Grace Care’s patients because of the positive force they have been in the face of ferocious adversity. I’m honored and blessed to know Grace Care’s team and to have worked with them.
I wanted to close with one of my favorite quotes, which sums up how I feel about advocacy and nursing in general:
“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.” – ELIE WIESEL from The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code