Sometimes the story tells itself and all you have to do … is listen.
Today, meet Betty Avery, RN, who brings equal magic to the stories she tells and the stories, memories, and emotions she encourages in others.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in a small town in north Jersey, Ridgefield Park, where everyone knew each other. I am the 11th of 12 children and my husband Paul is the 10th of 10. Paul is also from Ridgefield Park. Although this may seem impossible, we represented the average family in our home town. We moved to New Fairfield back in 1993, twenty five years ago, but we still miss Jersey (#18 on the NJ Turnpike).
What is your role at RVNA?
I am a Hospice nurse and work very closely with our Director, Leslie Chiaramonte, and our entire team to provide comfort care to our patients,’ “End of Life.” I like to see it as Quality of Life and this goes not only for the patient but for the family and loved ones too.
How long have you been at RVNA?
I started at RVNAhealth back in mid-November, before we had any patients. I can’t express what a gift it is to me to work for such a great place and to be part of this new endeavor, Hospice at its inception.
What brought you here?
I have worked as a nurse for over 35 years, mostly with children in both hospital and school settings. Coming from a pediatric setting, I believe my care often extended to the parents and loved ones, to educate them and relieve them of their fears. That experience is a wonderful transition into Hospice.
Approximately 14 years ago, I took care of a dying woman, a friend, who I worked with at her request. Subsequently, at the request of her daughters, I started working for a Hospice in the region one day a week. After that experience, I always knew I would return to Hospice and the opportunity that RVNAhealth presented was like fate to me and I knew it was time to return to Hospice Care.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Although working with such wonderful people for a common goal is wonderful, my favorite part is knowing I have helped someone die with comfort, with dignity, and with peace. I love families — all families — and getting to know them and to help them see their loved one die in peace, brings them an inner joy and gratitude that cannot be expressed in words.
When did you decide to become a nurse?
I have had a grammar school friend for over 40 years who likes to remind me that in my 8th grade yearbook, I apparently told the world that I wanted to be a nurse.
When did you decide to become a hospice nurse?
I think the day my friend’s daughters came to see me and asked me to become their hospice nurse. My first response was “no way.” But two weeks later, I found myself signing up!
What do you love to do when you’re not working?
I love to read and spend time in the woods.
What is your hidden talent?
I think I’m a storyteller by nature and love to bring joy to others.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I always had a dream of having my own “kids camp.” I’ve thought of many different variations, like for girls to build self-esteem, children with hardships, and the list goes on and on.
Do you have a favorite RVNAhealth moment or story?
After I was here at RVNAhealth for less than a month, there was a visitor just outside my office, but down the hallway. The visitor was a woman named Ashley, who was bringing her newborn child to see her mother-in-law, a long-time RVNAhealth employee.
But Ashley was also the daughter of the woman I had taken care of years before in my first hospice experience. Ashley and her sister had been my inspiration. Years before, they had given me a beautiful angel that is in my garden and is also my screen saver.
At RVNA, when we re-connected, Ashley said to me, “If you ever doubted where God wants you, doubt no more.”
I believe that with all my heart.