September 8, 2021

Nurse excels by focusing on what’s possible

Meet Linda Wynsma, winner of the Kaiser Permanente 2021 Extraordinary Nurse Award.

Linda Wynsma with a tiny patient in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Linda Wynsma, RN, believes in looking beyond barriers and focusing on what she and her team can make possible.

That’s precisely why one special 2-day-old baby, born prematurely with life-changing conditions, was able to head safely home to family. The scenario was a first for the neonatal intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center and the community home hospice agency that Wynsma and her NICU interdisciplinary palliative care team worked with to manage the baby’s care at home. Wynsma arranged special transport for the baby, who was on ventilator support and medications and was too small to use a regulation car seat. Wynsma assisted in delivering compassionate care and paving the way to a successful discharge.   

"Really caring for the person as a person and doing what’s important to them is compassionate care," Wynsma said. "It’s where you really want to make a difference in their life wherever they need it at that time."

Wynsma’s target is to do no harm and she has delivered. The NICU in Downey was infection-free in 2020 thanks to Wynsma’s efforts to educate nurses, be available for consults, and follow up with physicians on the care team. Wynsma doesn’t rest on her successes. She continually reviews local, regional, and national data to benchmark NICU outcomes monthly and quarterly.   

Following is an interview with Linda Wynsma:

Where do you find your inspiration and energy?

When I started out in nursing, it truly was to make a difference in people’s lives. As I’ve gone on in my life from bedside to a clinical nurse specialist, my inspiration is to make a broader difference for the organization and for individual people. There are 3 spheres of influence: 1, the patient; 2, other nurses; and 3, the organization. I get my drive to really make a difference on all these levels.

How did you maintain your resilience during the pandemic?

By trying to separate what I do at work from the time I spend at home with my family and friends.

The impact we were having in the NICU also kept me going. We didn’t have COVID patients, but we had parents who couldn’t visit their babies. We worked hard to make things better for them. We set up video chats and showed pictures. We tried to make a difficult situation more palatable for the patients and staff.

What type of self-care do you prioritize now?

I exercise, try to eat right, and reach out to talk with others at the hospital. At home, I knit; I do crafts. I prioritize getting sleep.

Watch Lynda Wynsma and all our nurse excellence award winners discuss nursing and their award recognition in this video.