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news News Monday, February 5, 2018 Monday, February 5, 2018 11:30 AM - Monday, February 5, 2018 11:30 AM

Once a patient, now a nurse

Medical journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children shapes employee's career choice

Once a patient, now a nurse

At age 11, Kandace Stratton was diagnosed by her pediatrician with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and referred to Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington for treatment. The pediatric orthopaedic surgeon recommended that Kandace be fitted by the orthotics and prosthetics department for a thoracolumbrosacral orthosis (TLSO) brace. A TLSO is the most common type of brace worn for scoliosis. The brace is made of plastic and is contoured to conform to the body. This close-fitting brace is almost invisible under clothes, as it fits under the arms and around the rib cage, lower back and hips. Kandace wore the TLSO brace for 23 hours a day for two years. At the end of the two years, Kandace underwent two major spinal fusion surgeries within four months.

Kandace spent a great deal of her teenage years as a Shriners Hospitals for Children patient. At the time, she didn’t realize how her medical journey would one day shape her career choice. Kandace and her family were very thankful and impressed by the level of care that she received, which led to Kandace choosing to pursue nursing school. “I have always loved children and felt as though I could relate to patients since I was one!” said Kandace. Kandace received her nursing assistant certificate in May 2009, and was hired at the then Lexington Shriners Hospital, working on the inpatient unit while she continued to work on obtaining her nursing degree. For the next few years, she worked at a job she loved preparing for the career she would love. In May 2012, Kandace graduated from nursing school. As a registered nurse, she worked the same shift as she had for three years as an aide.

“God’s plan for my life was to be a voice to these amazing children I am privileged to care for. I try and use my experience as a patient to help these children and teens through their recovery,” said Kandace. “At 14, I was too young to realize it, but I now know why my medical journey led me here.  Shriners Hospital is a special place and I hold it dear. I am blessed that God brought me back where my heart will always belong.” Lexington Shriners Hospital transitioned to a new model of care in April 2017, and was renamed Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center. The facility now operates as a 100 percent outpatient pediatric orthopaedic medical center. The move provided Kandace with an opportunity to shift from an RN on the inpatient unit to PACU. In addition to caring for children as an RN, she contacts all patients scheduled for surgery at the ambulatory surgery center several days prior, to provide specific details and answer any questions. Kandace was recently filmed by Lexington Shriners Medical Center as the host of the pre-operative surgery video that will be made available to all patients and families preparing for surgery.

“We have such a wonderful history of countless success stories, of brave and brilliant children who come to us with a variety of medical needs. They move on to have successful and healthy lives of their own. Sometimes, such as with Kandace, we are lucky to have them return and give back their professionalism and love to the very organization that cured them,” said Elizabeth Martin, RN, manager of surgical services and infection preventionist at Lexington Shriners Medical Center. “We are blessed to have Kandace a part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children organization.”