Care that Never Quits
A traumatic brain injury shatters a life: the suddenness of it, the terror and despair of a broken life and different brain. When a nurse brings somebody back from such a brink, what does it take? It takes devoted care, day in and day out. It takes Germain Harper, LPN.
Germain is the definition of care that doesn’t quit, just like his 20-year-old client Kyle now refuses to quit. Kyle is approaching a normal life after a car hit him while skateboarding, causing a traumatic brain injury. In just two years of Germain’s care, Kyle is ready for Cornell University.
Key to Kyle’s recovery is Germain’s attunement to his client’s goals and personality. “There are vital cognitive ‘windows’ where the brain needs nurturing and guidance toward the right activities for optimal recovery. My BAYADA team and I stayed on top of this process,” says Germain.
Put it this way: “Kyle had the worst brain injury I’d ever seen but he’s had the best recovery.”
Carving his own path
Germain wasn’t always a nurse—although being one was always “his greatest goal,” he says. But not just any nurse, a BAYADA Nurse.
He wanted “the mutual reward of one-on-one care,” that he experienced only in spurts pre-BAYADA. And to follow in his mother’s footsteps.
From his teenage days, he started building his health care resume. He helped his mother, once a BAYADA Nurse herself, in a group home she ran—he even earned his certification to provide in-home dialysis. Although he didn’t take a straight path to nursing—attending college and working a variety of jobs including being a truck driver and a security supervisor—Germain kept his eye on the prize.
Next, he became a New York City paramedic, which further whet his appetite for health care and eventually led to his earning his LPN in 2014. Immediately after, he went to work in a skilled nursing rehab facility, honing his acute care skills and readying him for his ultimate goal: being a BAYADA Nurse.
And we’re so glad he made BAYADA his next—and according to Germain, his last—stop.
“Germain bends over backwards for his clients; that’s why he was a great match for Kyle who needed the intense care that Germain gives, seemingly effortlessly. Yet enormous effort goes into that care,” says his BAYADA Clinical Manager Jeannette Jefferson, BSN, RN, CRRN, who oversees Kyle’s caregiving team.
Care that leads to small-big victories
Today you can find Germain easing his client into the car. They go to the mall for Kyle’s favorite Chinese food or to the gym so Kyle can build up his muscles and improve his walk, still somewhat affected by his left-side deficits. Soon, Kyle will be able to drive again, according to his doctor. “This is a huge milestone for independence,” says Germain.
These scenarios were just a hopeful glimmer when Kyle emerged from a coma two years ago. He had a shattered leg, a broken neck, and part of his skull removed (now melded beautifully with a prosthetic).
He needed total care, around-the-clock. Enter Germain.
Right away, Germain took him out as much as possible in a wheelchair-accessible van. “As part of his recovery, I wanted him to socialize and be with his friends. I even carried him into a swimming pool so he wouldn’t miss out on the fun at a high school graduation party.”
Eventually, Kyle ditched the wheelchair for walks in the park. He and Germain work out often at the gym and Kyle’s gait is still improving—he’s about 80 percent there, physically, according to Germain.
Mentally, the story is even more positive: From the beginning, Germain pushed Kyle to go to college—“he was an honors student before, and he’d get there again. We’d go to the career center and I’d say, ‘Just do five minutes of work this morning; we’ll go again and do five more in the afternoon.’ Now, Kyle is up to almost an hour and his math skills are almost where they used to be,” says Germain.
In those dark early days of Kyle’s brain injury, Germain’s talents and devotion shone like a bright light. “You can never lose sight of the toll a broken spirit can take on recovery from a brain injury. It can halt progress so you need to address it,” says Germain. Kyle recently asked Germain, “What do you think of my progress?” Germain half-joked to him, ‘Look, you couldn’t get out of bed or wash yourself when I arrived. Now, you’re planning to go to Cornell.’”
“I’m so proud of Germain this Nurses Week,” says BAYADA Client Services Manager Jeff Peacock, who coordinates Kyle’s care schedule. “With BAYADA’S core values of compassion, excellence, and reliability, Germain takes the unthinkable and makes everything doable again.”
We celebrate Germain’s awesome spirit of Care this Nurses Week.