More Than a Caring Voice
Laura Langemo’s calming, yet cheerful voice is the first experience many women may ever have with Sanford Health.
A registered nurse for 37 years, her job has allowed her to reach across the phone lines to be part of both joyful celebrations and worried, tearful moments for obstetric and gynecology patients at Sanford Southpointe Clinic in Fargo.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Laura says. “People just need to know that they are important and precious and cared about and not just a number.”
An early calling
Laura describes herself as a natural educator and nurturer – even in childhood. Growing up in a family with four brothers, she found herself often in the role of helping and babysitting. When she was 12, her mother went through treatment for breast cancer, an experience that helped put her on the path toward nursing.
After getting her nursing degree, she assumed she’d look for work in a big city hospital, but ended up returning home for two years to help care for her family after her mother's death. It was a blessing to be there to assist, when her father’s health sent him to the hospital in Grand Forks. The professional experience she gained, helped shape her career path for the coming years.
Although she had never anticipated a career in obstetric and gynecology nursing, she learned while working in hospitals in Alaska and North Dakota that she loved caring for women in labor. In January of 1979, she took a job at the clinic where she works today.
“Childbirth is such a miracle and it’s such an intimate time for people,” Laura said. “You feel so privileged and honored to be with them because it’s such an amazing experience.”
At Sanford Southpointe Clinic, she split her time between working on the clinic floor and taking phone calls from patients. For several years she worked part-time as a childbirth educator before returning to the clinic to settle into the nursing position where she serves now.
A professional, compassionate voice
Four days a week, Laura joins two other nurses to take phone calls of all types from the clinic’s patients. Many of the nurses have worked together over a decade, becoming colleagues and friends while answering questions, ordering lab tests and screening patients.
“People are surprised by how much we do and how much we need to know,” says Laura. “It can be teens to women who are 90 years old. You listen and get the information you need to decide what happens next.”
When Laura starts her day, she begins with a prayer. The committed Christian says she asks for compassion and the wisdom she needs to handle calls, which could be as simple as a refill notice on a prescription or as complicated as a woman frightened by unexplained bleeding.
“Every day is a good day, because my motto is ‘choose joy,’” Laura said. “Some women have lives where they are treated as paper plates. I want to always treat them like they are china.”
Improved technology and care
Laura has seen the industry change. Online charting and electronic patient records have replaced the paper files that used to clutter her desk. The medications and procedures have improved at a rapid pace.
The veteran nurse has become the trainer for new nurses who join the phone bank at the clinic. She enjoys mentoring the other nurses and seeing their commitment to patients.
“I’ll tell new employees when I’m training them, that there are things that they just need to do the job,” Laura said. “If you have the basic assessment skills, a kind, caring voice, and you are a good listener, we can teach you how to do the rest.”
After decades of serving patients, Laura said she’s still excited to come into work each day. She loves being part of a professional, skilled team that considers caring for patients to be a higher calling, even a sacred responsibility, she said.
“We want to help our patients meet their needs and make them healthy in every way – body, mind and spirit,” Laura said. “It’s my job to help you live your best life and enjoy the life you have.”
Posted Date: January 2012