At Halcyon Hospice, we’re constantly inspired by our employees that work so hard to bring our mission to life. Penny Vanvactor is a Registered Hospice Nurse for Halcyon and an integral part of our after hours On Call team. With 16 years in nursing and prior experience as an ER nurse, Penny is prepared to quickly and effectively assess a patient’s status during triage: “Making a decision as to whether a patient needs a visit can be a challenge when you can’t see their facial expressions. It’s important to know how to ask the right questions, to hear what a care giver is not saying through their body language, and to stay calm – even when they are not.”
Penny’s thankful for the autonomy she has in her role at Halcyon Hospice: “I have the trust of families and colleagues in taking appropriate measures to reduce the anxiety and pain our patients are experiencing.”
“Sometimes it’s simply a matter of listening. As a hospice nurse, I’m always listening and learning. There’s not a call or visit I’ve made that I don’t learn something from my patients and their families. This goes both ways.”
Penny grew up in Kentucky with a younger brother and sister. As a child she always wanted to be a nurse or teacher and felt passionate about taking care of those who were in need. “Being a nurse, I get to do both. I love having the time to teach patients and families. I didn’t have that time in the hospital,” says Penny.
When she’s not working, Penny loves spending time with her husband and kids: “With a 16-year-old and 9-year-old at home the house is either really full or really empty. When it’s empty, I love to read. When we can get away, my husband and I will go for a ride in the mountains on his Gold Wing.”
Wait, there’s more! We asked Penny some other questions to get to know her even better:
Who or what inspires you? “Two things…my patients and families – they never cease to amaze me with what they go through on a daily basis and still manage to smile at the end of the day, and my 16-year-old daughter – who everyday shows me what a wonderful generation of teens we have in the world today.”
If you could go on a road trip with one person (dead or alive) who would she choose? “Biblically, I would want to spend the day with Mary on her ride to Jerusalem. Non-biblically, I would want to take a trip with any of the authors of our constitution.
What’s one thing that most people do not know about you? “I am back in school working on my Master’s degree in Nursing.”
If you were granted a wish…what would it be? “I don’t really have any. I’m happy where I’m at in life. I have everything I could possibly need or want.”
What would be impossible for you to give up? “My relationship with God…I never dreamed that all the opportunities God had placed in my life, both personally and professionally, would lead me to hospice.”