Originally from upstate New York, Cathy Pfendler began her nursing career in the 1970s and has been with The Outer Banks Hospital since it first opened its doors in 2002. Many years as an RN has allowed her to gain experience in a variety of departments — from Pediatrics to Obstetrics and Gynecology to the Intensive Care Unit — but the challenging environment of the Emergency Department is what Pfendler finds especially fulfilling.
Being there to support people “in the most traumatic times in their life” is why Pfendler does what she does. The best part of her job is “the satisfaction you get from caring for somebody, and making them feel better, and being able to help them get through a crisis,” she says.
Not that her job is without its frustrations, of course. For Pfendler, being pulled in many directions means she isn’t always able to give patients as much emotional support as she’d like. “You can’t always stay at the bedside where you want to, because there’s other things that have to be handled,” Pfendler says.
How does she manage the demands of multitasking — along with the psychological toll her line of work often takes? Self-care, such as getting enough sleep, is an important aspect of staying emotionally healthy and being a good caregiver, Pfendler explains. And teamwork is essential. “We all try to look out for each other and also help support each other,” Pfendler says. She portrays an atmosphere where the nurses and staff at The Outer Banks Hospital truly work together, whether it’s helping to lift patients or answer call bells. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone,” says Pfendler.
This sense of collaboration and community — what Pfendler describes as a “homey” feel — sets The Outer Banks Hospital apart for Pfendler, even as she’s seen the hospital grow extensively over the years. “In a bigger facility, somebody could be working there and you have no idea who that is, or where they are, or where they’re from,” says Pfendler. At The Outer Banks Hospital, however, “people kind of know each other,” she says. “I think it’s a great place to work.”
Pfendler has also been on the receiving end of care at The Outer Banks Hospital. Several years ago, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and was taken to the hospital, where Outer Banks physicians immediately identified the problem. Fully recovered since, Pfendler appreciates the support she received from the hospital during her experience. “They worked with me getting back to work and doing short-term hours — all the staff was very supportive,” Pfendler says. Now she’s back on the caregiver side of the Outer Banks team, where she feels right at home.