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Mission Moment

Mission Lays a Foundation for Nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital

August will mark 50 years that Mary Merrill, RN, has been a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua. During her tenure, she’s “done a little bit of everything,” from oncology to maternity. Today, she works in the hospital’s rehab unit. “We all work together, and everybody feels like they belong,” she said about the nurturing, family-like environment that nurses will notice at the hospital. “Everyone makes you feel like you’re appreciated.”

The U.S. Department of Labor projects employment of registered nurses to increase by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, a much faster pace than any other occupation. An aging patient population, more emphasis on preventive care, and a surge in chronic conditions are all contributing factors to this growth.

Nurses form almost a quarter of Covenant Health’s workforce. The Catholic not-for-profit health system based in Tewksbury, Mass. employs 1,539 nurses across 13 sites, including 421 at St. Joe’s. So, what sets Covenant Health apart from its competitors?

“We offer a collaborative, rewarding work experience and a culture that believes deeply in its mission to serve,” said Rhonda Della Sala, BSN, RACRP and Talent Acquisition Partner.

“We look at each patient as an individual and care for their families, too. These aren’t just patients; these are people,” said Shannon Fitzgerald, RN, CEP, who joined the team two months ago. Alisha Khadka, RN, another new staff member, said that she’s always wanted to work at St. Joe’s and noted the focus on people truly starts during the hiring process that takes into account how well a person will integrate into the overall culture.

“Everyone I met with wanted to know more about me. They were very receptive to my career goals and skills and how I could fit in,” said Khadka, who previously worked at a long-term, assisted living facility. A colleague urged her to attend an on-site job fair to learn more about opportunities.

While employing nurses at every step of their career, St. Joe’s also prepares the next generation of healers. Last month, St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing celebrated this year’s graduating class. These new caregivers will enter the workforce ready to provide compassionate and dignified care with a fresh commitment to Catholic health ministry.

Merrill, who now is 71, said that, as long as she’s able, she wants to continue serving the St. Joe’s community. “You feel like you’re going home. I can’t imagine not going to St. Joe’s.”