Friday, November 7, 2008

5 Questions for Darlene Pezzullo, Nurse

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Darlene Pezzullo
Job: Nurse, Newark Center
Time with BCI: 4 years

1. How did you get started in the field of addiction treatment?
I have been a nurse for 37 years. The first few years I worked in the Medical Surgical Department of a Hospital and then a Geriatric Rehabilitation Center as a Treatment nurse. Then the next 20 years were spent as a Case Manager for USHC, AETNA and Cigna Medical Insurance Companies. I had spent so many years behind a desk working in an office, I felt that I had lost the one on one contact with clients. I missed that. Don't get me wrong, I loved nursing no matter how I could care for my patients, but I truly missed the hands-on aspect of nursing.

In 1998 my husband and I relocated to Delaware from Northern New Jersey. I landed a job at Upper Bay Services and Counseling, I worked in the Sunrise program, which was responsible for the direct care of clients being discharged from long term psychiatric facilities and reintroduced to society. This program allowed me to get directly involved with patient care again. After 3 years, the program closed down and I took a job with Northeast Treatment Center’s Kirkwood Detox. This facility offers a short term, inpatient detox program for alcohol and drugs. This was my first taste of the addiction field.

One of the part-time nurses I worked with at Detox was Ena Dryden, a full-time nurse at BCI Lancaster site. She informed me that a new facility of BCI would be opening down at the Riverfront for opiate addiction. We discussed the methadone program and what Brandywine had to offer in services to opiate dependent clients, and I was extremely interested, so I was eager to interview for the position. And, here I am 4.5 years later, happy, content, loving my job, my co-workers and the wonderful relaxed atmosphere of the Newark site.

The typical day at the clinic starts around 4:30 in the morning, getting the dispensing pumps ready with methadone, preparing the clinic for new intakes, preparing the exam room for yearly physicals. The nurses observe urines for drug screens scheduled for the clinic as well as the Drug Diversion Program. We offer Suboxone, and alternative choices for clients for opioid treatment. Our department is responsible for keeping accurate medical records on our clients. I assist Dr. Glick with his appointments of clients who see him for continued prescriptions of psychotropic medications.

I think I have a very good open relationship with my clients. I greet them in the morning with a smile, ask them how they’re feeling, and what’s going on with them in their daily lives. I remind the clients of the positive choice they have made by facing their addiction, and taking the right action to better themselves and their families. And that there is "Always Light at the End of their Tunnel."

2. What would people be surprised to know about your job?
That methadone really does work! Through education, counseling and taking methadone, we have seen clients be able to regain their life back, employment, and a happy home.

We are a staff of dedicated, compassionate nurses and counselors who come to work every single day and face our clients with a smile. We watch some succeed in the program, move on to the 30-day program, or no longer need our services. We have done our jobs! But, for the ones who fail, we are here to pick them back up with a smile, and without judgment. They’re no different than we are. Everyone has a story of how their addiction was started and OUR job is to listen and offer the best services and help we can give. I would encourage any nurse with an interest in the Drug and Alcohol field to come and look at the methadone program. These are people just like us. They have their own problems. We’re not here to solve them, we’re here to help them as much as we can, through education.

3. The Newark site had a 25% increase this year in number of clients who had stayed in opioid treatment for one year or more. What do you think is the reason for this?
Dedication of the Newark Staff! We have wonderful, caring, compassionate nurses, concerned and well-educated counselors and a clinic which offers treatment with a smile. Why wouldn't a client want to come our clinic? We care. We offer methadone, counseling, psychiatric treatment and medical care, all wrapped up in one. We are a well-rounded treatment facility. We have made our clients feel comfortable and safe. This type of caring from our staff has allowed us to be the BEST in the industry.

4. Many of our staff express their personality in how they decorate their office – tell us what you have at your work station.
I’m a big New York Giants fan. I’m from northern New Jersey, I grew up right outside the Meadowlands. I have a NYG coffee mug and I hang up newspaper clippings of NYG game highlights, if I can get away with it! With almost every man that walks up to my dispensing window during the football season, we can talk about the teams, players and standings! And I think, they think that’s kind of neat.

I am also known to have holiday decorations in my window, beanie babies, Easter bunnies, St. Patty's pot of gold, Xmas tree, but the best of all is my four stuffed Dwarves named Grumpy, Doc, Dopey, and Sleepy. My office space isn't that big (it's a dispensing window area), but what I have definitely entertains the children while their parents are getting medicated. I like to think I put a smile on everyone's face and it makes their day brighter! "

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI what would you do with it?
I would use the money for a salary for a Prenatal Counselor and/or Case Manager at the Newark site. We have had many young women deliver babies this past year, and they struggled during and after delivery with being on their own, abandoned by their husband, boyfriend, loss of housing, insecurities, mental issues, and facing their own addiction, and difficulty understanding the withdrawal process of their newborn. Our facility could use the education and expertise to help educate and direct these young women. There are many new fathers as well, who could use help with understanding the complete role of parenting. With the addition of a prenatal counselor, it would allow our team at Newark to be versatile and well rounded in all phases of care with our clients.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds like Darlene is a great asset to the progrem, she has great ideas how to run & how to improve the program. i have a relative that goes in & out of programs and understand how frustrating their ups & downs can be, especially on a day to day basis. good luck with you work Darlene!