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Nurse's Corner: Caring for Patients Is a Privilege for Bethany Hess

Bethany-story Nurse Practitioner Bethany Hess gets ready to check a patient’s blood pressure on the Health Outreach Bus.

Nurse Practitioner Bethany Hess's philosophy of patient care is rooted in respect for others and acceptance of each person's unique experience of life.

"I believe in client-centered care. This requires understanding the needs of the people whom we serve, their circumstances, and the challenges they may be facing," said Hess, who provides free basic medical care on The Night Ministry's Health Outreach Bus.

Hess said much of her job is listening to clients and answering their questions about their health challenges, which are often exacerbated by poverty.

"Many people have multiple and complex health problems, including trauma, mental illness, and substance use. There are always a lot of questions and uncertainty about their medications and diagnoses, especially within the context of the daily struggles that make it difficult for them to store and take meds, or adhere to treatment plans."

"Ever present is trauma and its impact on all aspects of clients' lives," she added. "Trauma plays a big role in why people become and stay homeless. And the stress of being homeless creates more trauma."

Hess has worked in the emergency department, inpatient settings and community clinics. She draws on all of these experiences to support her clients.

"One of my goals is to help clients navigate the health care system so it can meet their needs most effectively," she said.

"This is difficult to attain. Often clients benefit from talking about what they should say and what questions they should ask when seeking medical treatment. So when someone returns to report they were able to get to an appointment, or housing, or get the care they need, I feel like we've succeeded."

Hess also enjoys the connections she makes with the volunteers on the Bus.

"They come from every walk of life, have had a broad range of life experiences, including homelessness and illness, and have now come out on the other side. They inspire me." 

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