Being a wound care nurse is not for the faint of heart, but that hasn’t stopped Cari Howze from putting her whole heart into the role.
Howze is the wound care coordinator at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Savannah in Georgia. Though she meets many of her patients at their most vulnerable, she’s still able to make them feel comfortable and even relaxed while in her care.
“Cari is an amazing nurse,” said Peggy Thiedt, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. “She is one who is able to help calm an anxious patient or engage someone who is disconnected.”
Howze’s unique ability to understand and connect with her patients earned her Encompass Health’s Outstanding Employee Achievement Award for the company’s Southeast region. She is one of seven of nearly 30,000 of the Company’s inpatient rehabilitation employees to receive the award.
Theidt said wound care is complicated and not “glamorous work,” but it’s a role that Howze takes seriously, always looking for unique solutions to problems that could arise. She’s always quick to let her patients know exactly what she’s doing when treating a wound, and keeps their loved ones informed, as well.
“Cari has personality plus, which she exudes when she walks into a patient room,” Theidt said. “They are immediately at ease and confident in her care and her results are incredible.”
A recent patient is one example of how Howze can take a frightening situation and put a patient and their family at ease. She was removing the bandages from a newly admitted patient only to reveal a wound exposing his beating heart. After calming the patient and their caregiver, Howze went to work to treat the wound.
Weeks later when a coworker wondered how the patient was doing, Howze was quick to reply that he was just fine. She had kept in contact with the family after discharge to ensure they felt confident in treating and caring for the wound well after he left the hospital.
Theidt said this is not unusual for Howze, and she extends that care and concern she has for her patients to her coworkers and community.
When not at work, Howze is active with her church and has volunteered with A Night to Shine for several years. This program provides a prom for special needs teens and young adults, and Howze is quick to offer makeup, clothing, decorations and food for the event.
“We are truly blessed to have her be a part of our team in Savannah,” Thiedt said. “She is an excellent teacher, colleague and support person.”