Part one of our week-long series highlighting the amazing work our nurses do every day.
Linda Solano, RN — True Multitasker
When Linda Solano says “I’m wearing a lot of hats right now,” she could be describing a day in the life of any nurse – until she makes a list of all her hats.
Linda’s primary work is in the Labor and Delivery department at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pa., where she has been an RN for 20 years. It’s a busy job in itself, since even though Mount Nittany is a fairly small hospital, it sees 1300 births a year.
In addition to her three 12-hour shifts there, Linda is a leader in a number of projects. She is involved in the Gift of Life committee, the public cord blood donation center, the prenatal bereavement committee, and the SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania negotiating committee — and that’s only counting her activities within the hospital.
With so much going on, how does she stay motivated?
While she describes herself as internally motivated, every story she tells has her family, her friends, or her patients at its root. Starting with her career itself.
“My sister was sick from a very young age,” said Solano. “She had renal failure and needed a transplant. It sparked my interest in doing something medical.”
She settled on nursing because she “knew I could make a difference being a nurse at the bedside taking care of patients.” And after so many years, she knows “this is definitely what I was made to do.”
Her sister continued to motivate her when Linda joined Mount Nittany’s committee for Gift of Life, the organ donor organization serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Last year during organ donation month in April, Linda was the spokesperson to raise awareness in her area.
“I donated a kidney to my sister 26 years ago, and so I’ve watched her do things she would never have been able to do without the donation,” said Solano.
During this year’s organ donation month, Linda was too busy with a new donation project to be the Gift of Life spokesperson. Instead, she’s been dedicating her time to start a public cord blood donation program at Mount Nittany, motivated by a dear friend. When her friend was diagnosed with cancer and needed a stem cell transplant, her doctors said if she couldn’t find a marrow match, she could try umbilical cord blood, which is rich in stem cells.
An idea sparked for Linda.
“They’ve been collecting cord blood for donation in the big cities for years, and I thought why can’t we do it?”
It was good timing. The National Cord Blood Program, which wants to add 100,000 cord blood units to the bank over the next five years to increase chances of finding applicants a match, needed more hospital collection sites. Thanks to Linda, Mount Nittany’s labor and delivery unit will be one of them. She’s been working on it for a year, and the hospital has budgeted for it. “We’re training now and going live in the next few weeks.”
“We’re training now and going live in the next few weeks.”
Not all of her projects are about preserving life. She also initiated, helped develop, and still co-chairs the prenatal bereavement committee, which collects keepsakes to help families preserve memories of their baby when a newborn doesn’t survive.
“It’s the hardest part of my job,” said Solano. “Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s the best place in the hospital to work, bringing life every day, but a few times a year we have a loss. With the bereavement committee, we make it the best experience we can, given how bad it is. It’s probably the thing I’m most proud of.”
On top of everything else, Linda finds time to be the chairperson for the State College March of Dimes, and she is in the clinical portion of training to be a sexual assault forensic examiner for off-hours emergencies at the Children’s Advocacy Center. And she doesn’t shirk food or family.
“I’m a true Italian, so we cook every night,” she laughed.
“I’m organized and I’m very good at multitasking.”
Spoken like a true nurse.