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May is Nurse Appreciation Month: Dover nurse chose the right career

Featured in The Bargain Hunter, April 29, 2016
By: Scott Daniels

When you think of a nurse arriving on the scene, you probably don’t imagine a slick, red, sticker-badged car as part of the picture. But that means you probably haven’t seen nurse Amy Crawford of Dover and her NURSECAR

It is one of 260 or so of the cars deployed by her employer, the Michigan-based Great Lakes Caring, a firm offering end-of-life in-home hospice care for patients in several markets, including Crawford’s Akron region. 

How she came to drive the sporty NURSECAR is a story of family ties, Dover roots, and a bit of good fortune. 

Crawford’s mother, Sharon, is a nurse, and Crawford believed from an early age that such a career was not for her. “I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse at all,” she said. Then came the worst sort of news: her father, Roy, was diagnosed with cancer. “I wanted to know everything I could about his disease and treatment. I wanted to know how to take care of my dad. So I went into nursing, and specialized in oncology.” She discovered it was the right career for her, after all. 

Her father recovered, and Crawford spent time as a clinical oncology nurse in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, NASCAR racing is an inescapable part of every day life. “I was working in downtown Charlotte,” Crawford said, “and everyone I worked with seemed to be connected to racing in some way. It was easy to become a NASCAR fan very quickly.” She did just that and follows the sport closely. 

Crawford said she enjoyed the Southern U.S., and didn’t want to leave, though she realized working in a hospital setting was not an ideal path for her. She wanted something with greater freedom, and a more immediate patient relationship.

Family called again, she returned to Dover, and she sought to change the venue through which she practiced her new profession. Through a friend, she learned of an opening with Great Lakes Caring and secured a job with the firm. She now serves Tuscarawas, Carroll and eastern Stark counties as a mobile oncology nurse. 

The NURSECARS are the brainchild of the company founder, himself a NASCAR fan. Nurses employed with the company for six months can apply to get a car. “It works out well for the nurses, who have a reliable new car, patients and for the company,” she said. The car is fully stocked with anything she might need in her travels as a hospice care nurse. “It’s a mobile nursing care unit,” she said. The first fleet of NURSECARS rolled out at Michigan International Raceway in 2006.

Her NURSECAR, a 2016 Ford Focus, has seen a lot of roadway since she received it in November of last year. “I cover 300 to 350 miles every week,” Crawford said. “It already has 11,000 miles on it.”

Crawford said hospice care means many things today. “I’m caring for patients at many end-of-life situations. These are people who may have days or years remaining but want to remain at home in their own environment, leading productive lives as normally as possible.” She said her patients no longer wish to receive extensive, curative treatment. She is part of a team providing art therapy, music therapy, massage, spiritual care and bereavement counseling for family members. “I’m looking after patients in their homes or in long-term care facilities. It’s a really great career doing meaningful work. I’ve chosen the right field for me.”