Southwest Medical Center Registered Nurse, Natalie Bruno, leaves a lasting impact on patients. Bruno has been an RN for more than 20 years, mostly in the surgical department. In June of 2019, Bruno began her career at SWMC.
Bruno’s passion for helping others stems from her diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease at a very young age. People with Crohn’s disease often undergo Ostomy surgery. This surgery creates an opening in the abdomen (stoma), and patients have to wear a disposable bag attached to their person to collect bodily waste.
She says that she knew she wanted a career that could help others with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. “Helping others fuels my fire. It gives me a purpose for why God gave me this disease. My purpose is to help others.”
When not working at SWMC, Bruno is continuously networking with Ostomy support groups and Crohn’s disease websites. Bruno came in contact with Kelly Moss, a woman in Australia with a similar inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis as her. Moss created Ostomy Support Bears WA. This organization creates support bears for Ostomy patients.
These teddy bears provide comfort and education to patients undergoing stoma surgery. Each teddy has a stoma and a removable bag attached with Velcro. Bruno says she knew these would be very beneficial to her patients and reached out to purchase several bears.
Upon hearing Bruno’s story and desire to help others, Moss decided to be a forever donor of these ostomy bears to patients at SWMC. The hospital has received 12 donated bears with Bruno’s assistance to be given to patients undergoing this surgery. “These bears reduce the isolation of living with a stoma and provide emotional support to the patient. When you have an ileostomy, you feel alone; with these bears, you feel like someone else is like you.”
Bruno’s compassion for her patients doesn’t end when they leave the facility. She maintains a personal relationship with each patient, readily available if they have any concerns. “This can be a worrisome time for these patients, and having someone who personally knows what they are going through can hopefully ease this transition.”
Bruno is working closely with SWMC’s education department to revamp patient and nurse education on ileostomy, colostomy, urostomy procedures, and supplies. The Ostomy bear program was implemented at the hospital in January. They have had two grateful recipients.