“I notice you are all alone and crying. Are you OK?”

Vancouver | May 24, 2019
PeaceHealth SW nurse Jansen Alburger
This compassionate PeaceHealth nurse gives hope and inspires others by going the extra mile.
Neurology Staff Nurse Jansen Alburger was all set to grab some lunch at the PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center cafeteria when she saw something that made her pause. An older lady was sitting next to a platform walker, leaning over with her head resting on the table. All around her, people were walking to and fro, paying no heed.
 
“I sat behind her with my food,” Jansen recalls. “She was crying. Halfway through my meal, I touched her on the shoulder.”
 
“I notice you are all alone and crying. Are you OK?” Jansen asked softly.
 
The woman was in despair. As they got to talking, Jansen learned that she was homeless, had recently been discharged from another hospital, and didn’t know where to go to for help. 
 
“I got her a snack and asked her to wait,” Jansen said. 
 
Jansen decided to make some calls. She arranged a place for her to go for the night and offered her a list of organizations to turn to for help. 
 

Growing up homeless

Jansen’s selfless compassion comes from a place of deep empathy, and it propels her to act. She has walked in those very shoes before.

“I grew up living out of a Volkswagen van,” Jansen shared. “Those kitchen shelters without walls that you see in parks? They were a normal part of my childhood. My dad left us seven times and my mom did the best she could. She’d drape blankets around the kitchen shelters, and we’d pretend they were walls.”  Jansen Alburger with mom and sister
 
That pivotal childhood experience of being homeless, getting toys and clothes from The Salvation Army, and eating food from soup kitchens drives Jansen to look out for those around her and treat every person she meets with loving compassion.   
 
“I saw a person in need that day, and she’s a person with a heart and a soul,” Jansen said. “People need to know they have hope.”
 

A bad case of head lice

It was no surprise to anybody when Jansen recently volunteered to help a patient with a bad case of head lice. 

While the doctor had prescribed an oral medication to treat the lice, the patient clearly needed more help than that. So, Jansen went above and beyond by offering to shampoo, comb and cut her hair. 
 
Scissors in hand, Jansen grabbed a garbage bag and a shower chair from the bathroom.  She gently, carefully cut the matted bits of hair away as best as she could. The woman was extremely grateful.
 
What made Jansen do it?
 
“I wanted to help,” she said simply. “I knew I didn’t have to, but I wanted her to feel human. I wanted her to have hope; it was bigger than myself.” 
 

An inspiration to all

A single mom to three kids, Jansen continually inspires and amazes her PeaceHealth colleagues and the patients who are lucky enough to cross her path. 
 
“Working with Jansen makes me want to be a better person,” said ShawnMarie Nazaroff, patient team support, Neurology at PeaceHealth Southwest. “This is exactly how she loves on and supports everyone in the unit – sacrificially and compassionately. She is truly remarkable and an inspiration to all of us.”
 
Photo above:  Pretending the blankets were walls:  Jansen Alburger (center) with her mom and sister at a kitchen shelter without walls.