“Thank God for Katie”

May 02, 2018

In honor of National Nurses Day on Sunday, May 6, a grateful patient recalls her care by Shore Medical Center Nurse Katie Sellitsch

When Kathleen Schallus, of Northfield, checked in as a patient at Shore Medical Center a little over two months ago, little did she know that an incredible bond was about to be formed. Schallus, a hair stylist at Hi-Tech Salon and Spa, had a scheduled hysterectomy on February 27, but after the procedure, her doctor broke the news that she would need a blood transfusion.

Schallus was then transported from recovery to the 4th floor where she was greeted by the friendly face of someone who would soon become one of the most important people in her life.

“Other than giving birth to my three children, I had never been in a hospital. Then I learned I would have to have a blood transfusion. I have to admit, I was a little scared, but that feeling of uneasiness did not last long. I was pretty wiped out at this point, but I remember the sight of Katie being very comforting. ”

Upon arrival to the 4th floor, Schallus met Katie Sellitsch, a registered nurse who has been caring for patients for the past five and a half years at Shore Medical Center, and who is also pursuing her MSN degree through Stockton University’s Nursing Program.

“I wanted to become a nurse so I could make a positive difference in people’s lives,” said Sellitsch.  “In high school, my aunt became pretty sick and I saw the care she received from her nurses and how the nurses helped our family. I knew then that I wanted to become a nurse so I could help someone when they need it.”

Sellitsch met with Schallus and her family members, reviewing the plan of care with them and assuring she would be well cared for. Sellitsch’s calm approach immediately eased the anxiety of everyone in the room.

Naturally, Schallus’s family had many questions and concerns about the transfusion and medications she would need to take. Sellitsch was there, offering answers and helping to ease their minds. 

During the transfusion process two nurses were present, including Sellitsch. Once again she was there answering questions and providing unwavering support throughout the procedure.

Sellitsch was also there for an additional 15 minutes post-transfusion to serve as both a supporter and clinical assessor.

“I remember her talking about being a hair dresser, but I also recall my primary focus was making sure she was ok,” Sellitsch said.

“In addition to being a friendly voice, one of the reasons why we encourage a conversation during the post-transfusion period is because it gives us a chance to assess the patient,” explained Stacy Ross, RN-BC, BSN, Sellitsch’s supervisor at Shore. “We look for any changes in their breathing patterns, variation in their coloring, or facial grimaces. These are important clues that can help reveal how the patient is reacting to the transfusion.”

“The relationship between a nurse and a patient can be very powerful and long lasting. To be a nurse, you must be compassionate, caring, non-judgmental, kind, nurturing, trustworthy and very patient. Katie embodies all of these traits,” added Ross.

Schallus went home the next day, but unfortunately, she would be in need of Sellitsch’s care again soon. Two weeks later, she returned emergently to Shore and had additional surgery. “It was a traumatic and difficult time, but all I remember thinking was, there she is again…thank God for Katie.”

Sellitsch remembered Schallus right away. “As soon as I saw her face, I recognized her and recalled all that she was going through,” said Sellitsch.

“She went above and beyond her duties of being a nurse. Katie made my traumatic experience so much more bearable,” said Schallus. “She was an essential ink in the team that took care of me. I am extremely grateful to my doctor and everyone at Shore, especially Katie Sellitsch.”