Anne Chafee never ceases to be amazed by transplant patients.
"I've learned so much from them," said Chafee, who has been working as a registered nurse since graduating from Shoreline Community College six years ago.
As an LTFU nurse-and inpatient transplant nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center-Chafee has been humbled and touched by patients' resilience.
At LTFU, Chafee is one of several nurses who answers questions from patients who call with health issues. For the last year, she has worked at the LTFU clinic, filling in for nurses on vacation or helping out during heavy work periods.
And as part of a team of doctors and nurses, no question is too small for Chafee. "A lot of the questions we get have to do with graft-vs.-host disease. They call to tell us about new symptoms or worsening symptoms, or they have questions about their medication."
"Our patients are quite sophisticated about understanding their disease, and they're motivated about keeping healthy," she said.
Finding the appropriate answers and calling LTFU patients back with answers has greatly expanded her knowledge and ability to help.
"I'm really glad we have this system at LTFU. It's there for the patients and no one should be shy about calling and telling us what's going on. We're here to help them." Working at two different places does not make for a tough transition, she said. No matter what, it's always about the patient.
"I've learned a lot. Working at the hospital and at the LTFU clinic has improved my ability to care for patients," she said. "I really like the fact that I can work closely with patients and get to know them."
Yes, sometimes it's an emotional job, "but I know I can help. I know I can guide them through it, and that's why I love what I do," she said.
"Many of our patients face a tough procedure and then a lengthy recovery, and they know what's important. With them, all of the unimportant stuff falls away … all of the normal things we worry about, they disappear for them. It's only the most important things that are left to worry about."
When not busy at work, Chafee loves to garden, both vegetables and flowers. She swims and reads quite a bit, and likes to spend time with her family.