Slideshow

Johannes Koomen

Long-Term Care

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  • Johannes Koomen
    Photo by Becca Sabot
    “The difficulty and complexity of caring for mostly elder persons is often underestimated. As a caregiver you have to also take care of yourself.”
  • Johannes Koomen
    Photo by Becca Sabot
    “When you pick nursing you can move to any state and have a job. You can always get a job as a nurse. Through all the recessions I’ve been through, you can always get a job as a nurse.”
  • Johannes Koomen
    Photo by Becca Sabot
    “Medications used to be given religiously at [prescribed] times. No matter what the person’s pattern was, they would go on and give the meds. It makes no sense.”

Clinical Director
Presbyterian Homes and Services, Johanna Shores

Johannes Koomen showed up in the United States on the last day of 1973 with $150 in his pocket. He also had a bike, so he did what he had done as a high school student in the Netherlands: “I rode my bike to the nearest nursing home, and I got a job as a nursing assistant.” He’s been caring for the elderly and other long-term patients ever since.

Long-term care is not a popular field in nursing. In college, Koomen was the only student in his class to choose it. (The other two men went into emergency and surgery.) But long-term care is an area of growing need and rapid change. “Forty years is enough time to see it,” Koomen says. Computerized assessment tools that individualize patient care have turned the field upside-down, ushering in a “person-directed” movement. This trend keeps Koomen excited.

“The difficulty and complexity of caring for elder persons is often underestimated—[it] is always to focus on what the individual is like, what is important to her or him,” he says. This can be as simple as waiting until a patient wakes up before administering medication. It can be as complex as coordinating a team of family members and professionals—all with their own needs—to help make key decisions.

The humanity necessary to care for those at the end of their lives has definitely shaped Koomen’s worldview. “After seeing so many people come and go, I look at life a little more realistic. I don’t get too excited by too many things,” he says. His advice isn’t new, but it is certainly well earned: “Life is fast. It is short. Make the best of it each and every day.”

Donald Brock

Donald Brock

Emergency Care

Jan Baller

Jan Baller

Lifetime Achievement

Laurel Edinburgh

Laurel Edinburgh

Children's Health

Cyrus Batheja

Cyrus Batheja

Administrative Leadership

Sandy Greenquist

Sandy Greenquist

Women's Health

Jodi Shewczyk

Jodi Shewczyk

Cancer Care

Erin Mehta

Erin Mehta

Clinic Setting

JoAnne Geiser

JoAnne Geiser

School Nurse

Gretchen Moen

Gretchen Moen

Nurse Practitioner

Jessica Quinlan-Woodward

Jessica Quinlan-Woodward

Hospital Setting

Jeff Paurus

Jeff Paurus

Nurse Educator

Jennifer Bucka

Jennifer Bucka

Rising Star

List of Finalists

These 49 finalists, combined with the 13 award winners, represent the top 25 percent of nurses nominated this year.

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