Pat EverlyPat Everly’s nursing career started at a young age and with great enthusiasm, but it also took some unusual detours before she became an NMCRS visiting nurse at Camp Pendleton in 1987.

Growing up in Pensacola, Florida, Everly admired her mother’s friends who were nurses, so she got a job as a nurse’s aide when she was a high school junior. She followed that with a nursing degree from Tulane University and began working as a hospital nurse, then as a visiting nurse. When she married and moved to Wyoming, Everly initially worked in a hospital and then for a general practitioner who made house calls. “I made casts and sewed lacerations. I did everything,” she recalled.

For a few years, Everly stayed home with her kids and helped her husband with his business. She also launched her own home improvement business and sold paneling. When someone leased some commercial property the couple owned, they were able to retire for a few years to their summer home in Colorado. Unfortunately, the altitude wasn’t good for her husband, so they moved to San Juan Capistrano, California. Because of his health problems, Everly’s husband wasn’t able to get health insurance, so she decided to get a job so her family would have insurance.

“I saw an ad for Navy Relief and thought I would work until my husband got old enough to qualify for Medicare, but I fell in love with Navy Relief and just stayed. Carolyn Burton, also a visiting nurse at NMCRS Camp Pendleton, came to work not long after I did and we’ve become good friends so that’s made all the difference. We cover all of north San Diego County and Riverside County.” Everly and Burton are traditional visiting nurses, but have worked with combat casualty assistance clients when needed. “The working relationship that Carolyn and I have really helps. We know each other well and help each other with clients. The Society has changed a lot since 1987, but it’s still about caring for people.”

“Mostly, I work with older people,” Everly explained. “We have a lot of widows. We try to do what we can so they can stay in their homes. We do home safety checks and make recommendations for repairs or improvements. We also check blood pressure, review medications, and discuss the patient’s compliance with their doctor’s recommendations. Sometimes we pick up their medications because they don’t drive anymore. Often, we put them in touch with local community resources like Meals on Wheels or other agencies that provide transportation.”

“I think everything we do is rewarding. It really comes down to caring about people,” Everly said. “You don’t expect to fall in love with your patients. A few years ago there was one lady who was the sweetest thing. She was homebound and required oxygen, but still had a love for life. She loved words. She would try to increase her vocabulary. We would give each other new words. She was trying to stay mentally alert. Every year on her birthday she would go to the ocean and fly a kite. The year after she died I went out to the ocean and flew a kite. Every time I see a kite I think about her.”

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