Bridget credits that collaborative spirit—and dynamic leadership— for making the department one that works so well for patients. “We are very close-knit,” she explains. “Nobody’s job is more important than someone else’s…it takes our whole team to care for a patient and we all recognize that. The patient care techs are our heart and soul (and they move!) and the ED doctors are very supportive of the nurses. Everyone is willing to try new ways of working so we can continually improve care.”
When the emergency team isn’t working with patients it practices trauma, neuro and cardiac activations to identify exactly what will work best for patients when the time is critical.
“Patients from remote parts of the county are airlifted here and bypass other stops to get to our Trauma Center. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously,” Bridget says.
“The team is so fine-tuned that often just a look is all we need to communicate. That eases the anxiety of patients and families because we’re able to work very smoothly and calmly in stressful situations. I love my job and feel lucky to be here in a place that feels like home.”
In fact Cottage is very much like home to Bridget. She was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, raised in Carpinteria, and earned her LVN and RN degrees from SBCC. After trying out new places, she settled with her family in Carpinteria.
While working full-time she continued her studies at UCSB and in 2003 graduated with a BA in Latin American history and Spanish literature. After that she took on a new challenge of losing weight. She started running. Then cross-training. With diet and exercise she shed 60 pounds and is now a certified aerobics instructor, teaching two classes a week at the Carpinteria Veterans Building.
“I enjoy taking that hour to focus on breathing, to take care of my body and feel that good fatigue that a workout brings. It means I did something really good for myself. The other instructors— my bosses—are in their 20s. But my students joke that I’m just as intense as they are,” Bridget laughs.
“Now I’m always looking for new ways to be more physical and keep in shape. Just yesterday I got a bike. I haven’t had a bike since I was a kid!”
This is a woman who doesn’t shy away from a challenge. She has plans to go back to school, this time for a Master’s in nursing.
“Nursing is a diverse field,” she explains. “There are lots of ways to go with this career. Next for me might be education. Teaching is a big part of what nursing is. I don’t want to work anywhere else, so I’ll just keep bringing new skills to Cottage.”
• BY COLETTE BRIERE | PHOTO BY GLENN DUBOCK