Chilton Hospital Nurse Provides Care and Shows Compassion Outside of the Emergency Department|
Anyone can learn how to be a nurse, but it takes a special kind of personality to truly become one. It requires a career-long commitment of compassion, patience and humility. For many nurses, a caring nature is not just part of their job, but a way of life that extends beyond the clinical setting.
Maria Mavropoulos, RN, has been with Chilton Hospital’s Emergency Department for four years. She is the epitome of a nurse whose positive demeanor doesn’t change when it’s time to go home for the day. While many New Jerseyans were spending their summer vacations lounging at a beach, Mavropoulos was in rural Pennsylvania, selflessly volunteering at a Special Olympics event.
The Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, hosts a state-wide Special Olympics event at its summer camp each August. Mavropoulos, who has fond memories of spending summers at the camp as a child, gives back by offering her time to help those in need.
Mavropoulos employs her nursing knowledge and skills during the weeklong volunteering event. “I help the physicians take care of the participants because aside from their mental/physical disabilities, they could have diabetes, hypertension and other ailments,” she explained. “The athletes range in age from teenagers to people in their 60s, so there are a variety of possible medical conditions to attend to.” In addition, Mavropoulos assisted at the various sporting events each day and helped set up meals and fun evening events, including a luau.
During the commencement of the weeklong event, each participant is represented by their respective Pennsylvania county. They are cheered on by the camp staff and volunteers during a celebratory event. Aside from county, athletes are divided into colors, indicating ability. “It wouldn’t be fair to have higher- and lower-functioning players in the same competition,” Mavropoulos said. “Some individuals have walkers or canes and can’t do things that others can. With basketball, for example, we’ll use a hula hoop that hangs down instead of a regulation basketball net.”
The following events take place at the Pennsylvania Special Olympics: aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, running, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. Athletes practice all week until the competition begins. Everyone cheers each other whether they win or lose and they all receive an award at the end.
The Special Olympics’ motto is, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Everyone lives up to this credo, according to Mavropoulos. “I believe I get more out of it than they do,” she said. “They’re so inspirational. Everyone is so supportive of each other and they’re so happy to be there, even if they lose. The athletes look forward to it every year and remember it and talk about it the rest of the year. They appreciate the slightest thing you do for them, including applauding them for simply kicking a soccer ball.”
Mavropoulos returned to her Hoboken residence after the event concluded. Although her busy surroundings at home are quite the opposite of the Antiochian Village atmosphere, she brought home with her a cell phone full of photos to remind her of that memorable week.
Mavropoulous began volunteering at the Antiochian Village in 2003 and 2004 and then took a seven-year hiatus to further her education. She returned to the Orthodox Christian-based summer camp in 2011 and again this year. In her absence, Mavropoulous attended Rutgers University and the Nursing program at Holy Name Medical Center. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Nursing at St. Peter’s University, where she is currently earning her master’s degree.
Chilton Hospital is a fully accredited, 260-bed, acute-care, community hospital. It is a four-time recipient of the HealthGrades Specialty Excellence Award in Stroke, and Five-Star Rated for Stroke Care, the highest possible, for six years in a row. It is also Five-Star Rated for Joint Replacement and Total Knee Replacement for 2012. Chilton’s many services include minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery, a state-of-the-art Emergency Department, a Pain Management center, the Sleep Health Institute, the Comprehensive Wound Healing/Hyperbaric Center, the Chilton Cancer Center, the MotherBaby Center, an American Diabetes Association-recognized diabetes education program and a weight loss surgery program. Chilton has recently embarked on a $24 million modernization project, which includes the Cardiovascular Interventional Lab, The Breast Center and the Total Joint Center. The hospital is located at 97 West Parkway in Pompton Plains, NJ 07444. For more information about Chilton's facilities and services, or to find a doctor by name, specialty, or location, please visit www.chiltonhealth.org or call 1-888-CHILTON.