News: Visiting nurse helps where it counts around Cherry Point community
Story by Pfc. Scott L. Tomaszycki
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Since 1922, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has provided sailors, Marines and their dependents with medical support through the visiting nurse program.
Jo Walker started and has maintained Cherry Point’s own visiting nurse program for four years. Walker, a professional nurse with more than 20 years of experience, makes nearly 1,000 calls a year to Cherry Point service members’ homes to assist with their newborn babies and other medical issues.
The visiting nurse program provides hands-on help to active duty and retirees. Most of Walker’s visits are to homes of new parents where she can weigh, measure and observe a newborn. Most visiting nurses, like Walker, are also lactation consultants who can give advice on breast feeding and can help the new mother feel more confident in the feeding process.
“I put myself into the shoes of a brand new mom and ask, ‘What would be good for me?’” said Walker. “I tell them where they can find things, where they can get information and education.
“With these younger moms, whose mothers are in Iowa or Texas, I’m like their grandma. They can call me with questions and concerns and have as many home visits as they want,” said Walker, who is one of 43 visiting nurses throughout the Navy and Marine Corps.
Walker makes multiple house calls to senior citizens as well and provides assistance with things like medication.
I see some 70 and 80-year-olds. They might need me to go over their medication with them, make sure they are taking the right dosage,” said Walker. “I have one lady who was diagnosed with diabetes. I can go to her house at her convenience and explain to her everything she needs to know about diabetes.”
The impact that Walker has had on some people’s lives is significant. She makes the lives of the people she helps much easier.
“I’ve been sick for quite some time,” said Claretta Hatfield, who is married to retired Staff Sgt. Otis Hatfield. “Jo helped me transition from the hospital to being back home. She called me every day, and she saw me every other day. Jo did the work she was supposed to do, plus some. She’s a good person to have as a nurse and as a friend.”
Walker already makes a positive impact on people’s lives; however, she is always studying so she can be a better nurse and help people who need her.
“I’m always learning,” Walker said. “I’m required to get a certain number of continuing education credits every year. I always exceed it, I double it. If I see something that looks good and applies to the military, I’m there.”
To schedule appointments with Walker, call the Cherry Point Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at 466-2031.