For Nina Bell-Graves, Caring for People Comes First

Nursing Our people Professional Development

Nina Bell-Graves is a star. She’s an R&B singer, songwriter, record label owner and TV producer. Despite her busy life as a successful entertainer, she’s never strayed from her passion. “I have a life in entertainment, but I stay a nurse because of my love of taking care of people,” Bell-Graves said.

Bell-Graves came to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Vineland in New Jersey about a year ago, a new chapter in her 30-year nursing career. In that time she’s developed deep bonds with her coworkers and touched her patients’ lives with her positivity, her expertise, and yes, even her singing!

Building Trust with Her Patients

For Bell-Graves, connecting with patients comes naturally. From the initial conversations at admission, to teary-eyed farewells at the time of discharge, she makes sure patients feel comfortable. “Getting to know your patients is the biggest thing that you can do when a patient is on a rehabilitation journey,” she said.

Monica Titus, chief executive officer at Encompass Health Vineland, said patients’ response to Bell-Graves is overwhelmingly positive, and they are eager to share more about their experiences by submitting comment cards to hospital leadership. “Nina truly emulates the Encompass Way every day,” Titus said. “I consistently receive positive feedback about her. Nina listens (to patients) and never leaves a room without ensuring that all of their concerns have been addressed.”

Oftentimes, it’s the little things Nina does that start a meaningful conversation between Bell-Graves and her patients. She coordinates her scrubs to match her hair color, and she always has time for a song. “My patients know I’m color coded,” Nina said with a laugh. “I sing to them and I’m very animated with my patients, and they love it. I do whatever I can to make them smile.”

Bell-Graves shared just how powerful trust can be in inpatient rehabilitation. She said that in getting to know patients, nurses learn about their needs and goals, and can pick up subtle signs that the patient is in distress. “We can pick up on things that could possibly hold them back. If they aren’t feeling well, we can see it.” According to Bell-Graves, that’s exactly what happened in early 2022.

Nurse Nina Becomes Family

An 18-year-old car accident victim came to Encompass Health Vineland for rehabilitation after a hospital stay. While caring for the patient Bell-Graves said, “I knew something wasn’t right” and jumped into action. She took the patient’s vitals and immediately called the doctor, who found that the patient was septic.

After receiving treatment, the 18-year-old patient returned to Encompass Health Vineland again for rehabilitation. The patient’s mother tracked down Bell-Graves to thank her for being adamant that a doctor evaluate her daughter. “I’m no longer just Ms. Nina, her nurse. I’m Aunt Nina,” she said.

Nina recently attended the former patient’s birthday and plans to attend many more. “I’m part of her family and they are part of mine.”

Nina Bell-Graves and Nurse Manager Annmarie Reilly.

Investing in Others

Nurse Manager and CRRN Annmarie Reilly, said the Encompass Health Vineland clinical team looks to Bell-Graves for encouragement and advice. She makes herself available as often as she can, so her coworkers feel supported. “Nina brings magic to Encompass Health Vineland by exhibiting pride and passion for nursing. She’s an excellent role model and mentor,” Reilly said.

Throughout her entertainment career, Bell-Graves has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names (Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and the Manhattans, to name a few), but none of them hold a candle to her coworkers at Encompass Health Vineland. “The comradery is bar none. We work together. We hold each other up. It doesn’t matter what your level of education is, we are all the same when we try to improve a patient’s life. That right there feels good to be a part of,” Bell-Graves said.

After decades of nursing, Bell-Graves continues to grow. She’s well on her way to becoming a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) with the full support of her supervisors and colleagues. And because Bell-Graves loves to stay busy, she’s also working on her second full album, entitled “Life Changes,” inspired by the many ups and downs of her decades-long nursing career.

“One of the songs talks about how you get everything you want out of life because of what you put into it,” she said. “Invest in other people and that will help fulfill your life.”

A Career You Can Trust

Encompass Health is committed to nursing growth and excellence in patient care. We stand apart with our exceptional work-life balance and great rewards. There’s never been a better time to join Encompass Health.

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