Community Health Net, Erie’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center, is home to three people who define the word “heart.” They embody community, stand for dignity and respect, genuinely love people, and have given their lives to and immersed themselves in caring for individuals and families of all walks of life and socio-economic status. Alison Davis, LPN, Stephanie Schaff-Turri, RN, and Toni Gromacki, LPN, are nurses with 59 combined years of service to Erie County. They are proven, battle-hardened healthcare heroes.
“My mother was my role model. She was a pediatric nurse,” said Alison Davis, a 16-year veteran LPN. “She would always talk about her patients and how much she loved them.” When Alison told her mother about her plans to become a nurse, she replied: “If you can love people, be concerned about them, and put them ahead of yourself, then you can.” Alison has lived by those words.
Mrs. Davis is a transplant to Erie, leaving her roots in Havana, Florida, over 15 years ago, working for Community Health Net for most of her career, assisting the organization’s healthcare for the Homeless program. “CHN does not turn anyone away from good, adequate care,” she said as she expressed why she works for the organization. Mrs. Davis sees many clients that remind her of her brother, who could not care for himself after suffering a stroke and dementia. “Many of the patients in the program do not have family members who will support them. They need someone who isn’t going to judge them when they come in the door. They still deserve to be seen and cared for with respect. We need to have compassion for people.”
“Mrs. Davis sees many clients that remind her of her brother, who could not care for himself after suffering a stroke and dementia.”
Stephanie Schaff-Turri feels the same, having spent 19 years with Community Health Net and 12 years as an RN. She is an Erie native with a background in Health Science and Community Health. “We care for one patient at a time. Individualized, patient-centered care significantly impacts families and, by extension, the community,” said Mrs. Schaff-Turri. Initially, she worked to build and ensure adherence to qualified healthcare processes and procedures at CHN before becoming a nurse. “I became an RN because I felt that I would be a greater benefit to the organization by helping people.”
Stephanie often stays after work to help her patients. She also volunteers at outreach events. “I’m not in healthcare for the money. I could be a traveling nurse and make big bucks,” she noted. “What I have is a sense of accomplishment. People who you care for appreciate you years later. They will never forget you. There is a real sense of community as I help patients.”
“I became an RN because I felt that I would be a greater benefit to the organization by helping people.”
Toni Gromacki, a 29-year veteran LPN has the same sense of duty, volunteerism, and love for people. Her family roots run deep in the Erie community. “My whole family is in nursing, social work, and community shelter services. Helping people is in my blood. So, being a nurse is a comfortable fit for me,” said Mrs. Gromacki, who started her career at Community Health Net in Pediatrics. She feels as if her patients are her second family.
Toni loves her job. She works to break down barriers to health care and ensure that everyone can access care. “Patients do not come in a box. You have to listen and read between the lines to understand their needs,” said Mrs. Gromacki. “Community Health Net offers services that they [patients] would not be able to get anywhere else. Health equity and access. That is why I get up every morning to come to work.”
by DaWayne Cleckley for Community Health Net. Read the Erie Time-News / GoErie Article here: https://bit.ly/3FyfCUJ