Beverly Rinde-Thorsen visits with Brandon Sharpe, a patient of Noah’s Children. Photo by Isaac Harrell
Pediatric hospice nurse Beverly Rinde-Thorsen never has a typical 9-to-5 workday. Some days, she will spend 20 hours helping families who have children with chronic illnesses — going to doctor's appointments, making house calls, administering pain medication and having difficult conversations with parents about their child's fate.
"No one else talks to them about the end of life," she says.
A nurse with the Bon Secours Richmond Health System for 25 years, Rinde-Thorsen has served as a pediatric hospice nurse for the past three years with Noah's Children, the only hospice service for children in Central Virginia, located at the St. Mary's Hospital complex. After working in adult and teen hospice care and as a pediatric intensive-care nurse, Rinde-Thorsen knew pediatric hospice was her true calling.
Her patients range from babies still in the womb to 22-year-olds with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer or mitochondrial diseases. Rinde-Thorsen helps children with chronic illnesses by educating their families about diseases and pain medication, helping them explore treatment options and supporting their treatment decisions.
"Compassion is at the heart of nurses," says Teresa Miller, nurse manager at Noah's Children, who first worked with Rinde-Thorsen in 1997 in St. Mary's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. "For me, I see the love that she has for our profession. She loves being a nurse."
Miller adds that Rinde-Thorsen's communication during such delicate times is what makes her an exceptional hospice nurse. "She can have a direct, straightforward conversation with patients or family members and she can do it with compassion," says Miller. "She is really amazing at what she does and the relationships she builds with family."