For three decades, Nancy Vasquez has cared for moms and babies in the hospital. She began her career as a post-partum nurse looking after moms and newborns. Later, she trained in labor and delivery and gained experience working with moms in the hours before their babies arrived. “You get to be there for a really life-changing moment in people’s lives,” Vasquez explained. “It was really important for me. I found my niche working with moms and babies.”
Although she loved the hospital setting, “it can be a little stressful for the moms,” she said. “You’re in an unfamiliar setting and you feel like you have to act a certain way.” That’s why having a visiting nurse come to your home can be so much more comfortable for new moms. Today, as the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society visiting nurse in Naples, Italy, Vasquez enjoys seeing moms and babies in their homes and taking more time to answer their questions. “Being in their own home is conducive to better communications and the moms can deal better with their babies,” she said.
Vasquez started her work as a visiting nurse for the Society in January, when her Navy officer husband was PCS’d to Naples, the family’s 12th duty station since becoming a military family in 1990. Vasquez first heard about the Society in Newport, Rhode Island when she was participating in the CO and CO-spouse orientation class there. “Then my husband became Commanding Officer (CO) of a squadron at North Island Naval Air Station, near San Diego, so I started volunteering for the Society there. Then, when he became CO, Naval Base Ventura County, I became the honorary chair of volunteers at NMCRS Ventura County. It had nothing to do with nursing,” she said. “I was volunteering doing whatever they needed done.” Vasquez’s mom, Emiliana also volunteered—as a knitter—creating baby blankets for participants in the Society’s Budget for Baby classes.
Once the family arrived in Naples, Vasquez met with NMCRS Naples Director Margaret Copson to volunteer there, and learned about the visiting nurse program from the Society’s visiting nurse. “They didn’t have a visiting nurse at NMCRS Ventura County so I didn’t know about it,” she explained. “The visiting nurse asked if I wanted to serve as a volunteer visiting nurse with NMCRS Naples and I thought it would be a wonderful way to maintain my credentials, which is difficult overseas. There’s only one small base hospital here in Naples and the staff is all active duty. When I found out I could do nursing and work here I was excited!” After volunteering for several months, Vasquez took over the official Society visiting nurse role when her predecessor’s family PCS’d back to the States.
Vasquez has settled into her community and her visiting nurse role in Naples. “I enjoy living here,” she said. “I love the culture and how passionate people are about everything. And I really love and embrace the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s mission. Military members and their families make a lot of sacrifices—moving all the time, being separated from loved ones, putting themselves in harm’s way. It’s nice that the Society recognizes that and, in times of need, can help them and give back to the service members and their families. I’m glad for anything I can do to help give back.”
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso