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Health Care Hero - Rehabilitation nurse Laurie Cross

Updated: March 16, 2010 - 10:09 am

Posted: February 5, 2010

As director of nursing services at River Pointe Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Virginia Beach, Laurie Champagne Cross has led the center to pass important credential inspections by the Veterans Administration and to become a part of a project on ulcer elimination to be published in a book on best practices in hospitals and nursing homes.

This isn't what she thought she'd be doing when she started college.

"I started my first two years majoring in health education," Cross said. "While I was in college I got married and my first child was born 14 weeks early. I had to learn how to feed her and there was a lot of medical equipment in the home."

That experience got Cross thinking about nursing.

"I had a lot of admiration for the nurses who taught me all of this during my daughter's lengthy stay in the hospital," Cross said.

When her daughter got a little older, Cross decided to change her studies to nursing and found an interest in rehabilitation nursing during clinical rotations.

"You were exposed to individuals who really didn't have a family, older individuals who maybe outlived their loved ones or didn't have children, and we were able to see how the staff became a surrogate family for them," Cross said. "It's a bond you don't really see in other aspects of nursing and it really pulled my heart toward these individuals. We do short-term rehabs, but we also have a long-term section."

Even though Cross left the degree in health care education behind for a career in nursing, she has been able to educate her team through her supportive nursing style.

"I don't expect more out of the nurses than I expect of myself. I was a young nurse at one time, too, and you have to be very patient," Cross said. "You never stop learning in nursing. There's hands-on education all the time. When a nurse is doing something for the first time, I say 'Let's just go into the room and we'll do it together.' " nib

- Mary Worrell

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