Originally created 05/03/04

Nurse often puts himself in place of his patients

If endoscopy patients at Doctors Hospital feel a little distraught and helpless, Paul Hallisy can sympathize.

A longtime licensed practical nurse in that unit, Mr. Hallisy spent 10 months in a military hospital after being wounded by a mortar shell during the Vietnam War.

"You're kind of at the mercy of who's taking care of you," he said. "You hope they know what they're doing and they're going to do it with compassion."

Fortunately, he said, he got good care and he tries to give the same back to his patients.

It is that comforting manner that earned Mr. Hallisy first place in the LPN of the Year contest sponsored by Advance for LPNs magazine. The unit itself had been honored in 2001 as Best Team by a sister publication.

Mr. Hallisy, 55, went from Vietnam to working on a military chopper in San Antonio that responded to critical accident victims and ferried premature babies in for medical care.

"That was the first air ambulance for that area," he said. "It was exciting. Then my wife looked at me and said, 'Are you going to be able to do that when you get out of the service?' And I said, 'I don't think so.' So we decided to go to school together."

He went to military nursing school, she to St. Phillips Junior College, and they both graduated in 1973. After serving 20 years in the military, including eight at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, he retired with 20 years of service in 1988 and then went to work at Doctors.

Sixteen years later, it looks like a good fit. His calm, laid-back demeanor works well with patients who would much rather be somewhere else. About 75 percent of them have never had the procedure before, and often they have misconceptions about it.

Many endoscopy patients, for instance, think the scope with the camera, which is inserted into the throat to view the digestive system, will cut off their breathing, which it won't, Mr. Hallisy said.

"They're scared to death," he said. "You try to explain to them and let them know that somebody's here to take care of 'em."

And fear about the sedation is misplaced.

"The biggest thing is, when it's done, they want to know when they're going to get started," he said.

Mr. Hallisy works well in a unit where schedules often change without warning and so must the employees, said clinical manager Debbie Hortenstine.

"We know that what we start with is not what we're going to end with. So you come in knowing that and adjust," she said. "He adjusts very well for our needs."

That experience with high-pressure medic jobs serves Mr. Hallisy well in the unit, Mrs. Hortenstine said.

"You kind of develop a laid-back attitude," she said. "There's a job to do; it has to be accomplished, it has to be accomplished the best way you can. But there's no need to become overexcited or irritated."

And if nothing else, Mr. Hallisy can always recall his experience as a patient.

"So I always look back at that: If I was the patient, how would I like to be treated," he said.

Paul P. Hallisy

AGE: 55

TITLE: Endoscopy nurse at Doctors Hospital

EDUCATION: Attended St. Petersburg Junior College, earned licensed practical nurse designation in the military

CAREER: Retired as a staff sergeant after 20 years in the military; served as a combat medic, air ambulance medic, LPN, ward master; won first place in the LPN of the Year contest for 2004

FAMILY: Wife, Geraldine; sons, Patrick and Joseph

QUOTE: "You just try to treat (patients) like you'd like to be treated."

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.


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