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Natural Born Nurturers

Having met in 1985 while going through one of the first new graduate registered nurse programs at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Lydia Salas, RN, lead nurse, and Cheryl Boyd, RN, BSN, have now known each other for 29 years. And while they practiced in different areas of the hospital for several years, Salas settled into her current job in 1993 as a pre-admission RN. She then recruited Boyd to her department in 1997. They have been co-workers ever since.

Salas and Boyd have nearly 60 years of professional nursing experience between them. And with that comes a vast knowledge of the details regarding both the medical and surgical experience from a patient’s perspective. Since surgery can be a stressful event for patients, having them meet with one of these registered nurses prior to surgery is one way that Torrance Memorial aims to ease anxieties.

The two colleagues find tremendous satisfaction in their roles in the pre-admission department. And for both, it is evident that the innate role of nurturer extends beyond the hospital walls into their personal lives.

Salas has always enjoyed helping people, which is what led her to a career in nursing. She has a great family life, is happily married and has two wonderful sons who are now grown.

An avid exerciser, Salas used to run marathons with her husband for about 10 years when they were first married. However, as her sons were growing up, she found that life became a bit too busy to continue marathon running. As a working mom of two who wanted as much time as possible with her children, she transitioned into walking about 15 years ago. Never discounting the importance of exercise, she still walks to and from work—between 2½ and five miles per day.

A lover of languages, Salas puts her knowledge of Spanish (she studied it in school) to good use. She is the go-to interpreter for her department when the need arises for patients who cannot speak English. Salas recently began studying Italian, in the hopes of making a trip to Italy.

Similar to Salas, Boyd has always enjoyed caring for others and knew early on that she wanted to become a nurse. While growing up, her parents were foster parents to other children. She saw at a young age how good parenting could impact a child in a positive way.

Fifteen years ago, while already a practicing nurse, she pursued a state license to become a foster parent herself so she could provide respite care to foster parents for their children. She segued into becoming a full-time foster mom about seven years ago, when her parents—who were foster parents at the time to a high school-aged son—relocated to Riverside.

Not wanting to uproot the child during this important time before college, it was decided that he would become Boyd’s foster son. She cared for him for two years and then saw him off to college. Her second and current foster son has been with her for five years—since he was 13 months old. In her spare time, Boyd teaches Sunday school and loves to cook, creating meals for the people of the church for a variety of activities and functions.

These dedicated nurturers are a natural fit at the hospital, where they provide a shoulder to lean on for patients and answer questions prior to their surgeries. This often goes a long way in alleviating emotional stress for patients. “I love what I do and enjoy making patients feel that someone cares,” explains Salas.

Because the pre-surgical process is overseen by these nurses, their work also helps prevent last-minute cancellations of surgical procedures due to missing tests, abnormal labs or uninformed patients who may have not known when to fast prior to surgery or when to stop (or continue) certain medications.

They also play the role of teacher by guiding patients through the pre-surgical testing process, advising them of their pre-operative instructions and giving them insight into the post-surgical period regarding recovery times and expected outcomes, which can all vary with each patient and procedure.

While anticipating surgery, “patients can be very anxious. We try to give each patient what they need to put them at ease,” says Boyd.

Categories: Heart Beats

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