A Tribute From Theresa Santoro To Claire Kirby…Town and RVNAhealth Treasure!

I’d like to express my own personal gratitude for a former RVNAhealth nurse, Claire Kirby. Claire passed away peacefully last week on our hospice services.

A favorite Claire Kirby photo, gracing the hallways of RVNAhealth in celebration of our 100th anniversary

Claire Kirby was employed at RVNAhealth for at least three decades. She did it all — from home health to community health and wellness. She was beloved by the agency and the entire community. She was that nurse who several referral sources, family members and patients themselves asked for… “By any chance, can we get Claire as our nurse?” Claire was an inspiration to all of us.

An old-school nurse who was direct yet caring. She had high expectations, yet was very understanding of human frailties. She lived across the street from me and for years, I’d watch her shovel her own snow, rake her own leaves, and do her own home repairs. She was in her 70’s and 80’s at the time! It was exhausting just watching her. I wanted to be Claire Kirby when I grew up.

Claire was so well known that when she retired, the Town of Ridgefield threw her a town-wide retirement party at The Community Center. It was a packed event.

During the time of her retirement (2001) we were working out of 90 East Ridge. It was a time when nurses had to come to the office every day to collect paper charts, check in with their supervisor and document their notes. We all had personal cubbies to call our own and to work from.

For weeks after Claire’s retirement, we’d walk past her empty cubbie and feel such a loss. It was hallowed ground! I was a relatively new full time RN case manager and, after some time, was assigned to Claire’s cubbie. It felt like I was getting Derek Jeter’s locker! I was thrilled and felt honored. From the day I took her seat, I aspired to be like her: humble, strong, and compassionate.

Claire volunteering at her final RVNAhealth blood pressure clinic — with Ridgefield First Selectman, Rudy Marconi

While she retired in 2001, Claire was never one to sit still. She continued to volunteer her time at our health fairs and blood pressure clinics until 2014.

Claire, thank you for all you did for RVNAhealth and this community. We are forever grateful. And we are honored to have provided our full spectrum of care back to you over the past decade.

To the members of our home health, rehabilitation, home care, and hospice teams who cared for Claire: thank you for the wonderful care you provided this special lady at the end of her life. I know that her family is extremely appreciative.

Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA
RVNAhealth President & CEO

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