Assistant Nurse Manager | Chronic Care Management
Sandy Eastwood, RN
Read about the writer, Ellie David.
Getting Her Dream Job
Sandy Eastwood has a long commute between Bailey-Boushay House and her small rural community north of Seattle. She uses the drive to think about the clients she calls “my folks.”
She worries about them. She admires them. And she’s proud to work with them.
“I’m very attached to all of them,” she says. “I really adore these guys and gals. They’re such a community among themselves. I get to be a piece of their community.”
Sandy worked at Bailey-Boushay House from 1995 to 2000, and then returned in 2005. She has been the Assistant Nurse Manager since 2007.
“It gets in your soul,” she says. “You either love HIV care and stay with it, or it’s just not your niche. It’s hard work, but this isn’t just a job to me. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Her colleagues and patients agree. When she emailed to ask about coming back, she got a reply in 30 seconds from Bailey-Boushay’s executive director.
On her first day back, a longtime client greeted her with delight. “How,” he asked, “did we get so lucky to get you back?”
Sandy’s calm manner belies the fact that anger triggered her empathy for HIV patients.
She remembers thinking, “These folks are already marginalized by society. They’ve had backs turned on them with a horrible disease that scared everyone.”
Two things were immediately clear to her. One, that HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease and “it could have been me.” And two, “everyone deserves to be taken care of.”
For all the changes in AIDS care over the past 30 years, she says, a truth remains. “We need to make a safe place for people to be, not to criticize or judge them. It’s about building trust. So we never ask a patient why. We say, OK, what can we do to help?”
She remembers so many patients who died before effective AIDS medication took hold in the late 1990s and she’s gratified to help clients take life-saving medication successfully to live healthier lives now.
Sandy sees herself as the lucky one, and she sees her patients as role models.
“Their stories and what they’ve overcome in life — I would have given up much earlier,” she says. “I’ve learned so much from them about the strength of the human spirit.”