Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished nursing professionals.



(page 5 of 7)

Community

Karen Ricci
 


 

Part of Karen Ricci’s job is listening to a lifetime worth of stories.

As a registered nurse hospice case manager with Allegheny Health Network Healthcare@Home, she loves hearing the tales that have shaped the lives of her patients. Ricci, 52, of Forest Hills, considers getting to know each person at this stage of life a great honor.

“It’s a privilege for people to welcome you into their homes,” she says. “They make you part of the family. So many people say, ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ but to me, I feel it’s an important function. I just feel really lucky.”

After earning her RN diploma from St. Francis Medical Center’s Professional School of Nursing, where she briefly worked after graduating, Ricci worked at St. Margaret Memorial Hospital (now UPMC St. Margaret) for a few years before taking a job in health insurance utilization management and case management with Intracorp, now Cigna. She had a knack for technology and later worked in supporting the clinical systems and in configuration and training at Pyramid Health then UnitedHealthcare. The desk jobs were ideal when she was raising her two children but Ricci knew she wanted more.

One day, she attended the kids’ swim practice and met another mom who was a hospice nurse.

“This may sound ridiculous, but it was like I had an epiphany,” Ricci remembers. “I thought, ‘That’s what I need to do.’”

But she still needed the convenience of the office job. She stayed for a few more years, but always told herself, “When I leave here, I’m going to be a hospice nurse.” The day she and husband Geno sent their daughter’s last college tuition payment, Ricci started to lay the groundwork for her new career. She took as many continuing education classes as she could related to hospice and palliative care.

Ricci’s experience extended beyond the classroom when she cared for her own mother, Ronnie Campbell, who had hospice care prior to her death 2009.

“That solidified for me that this is, in fact, what I wanted to do,” she says.

Ricci met her goal when Allegheny Health Network hired her in 2016.

“I think the rest of my career was a stepping stone to me to get to this,” she says. “There were things I learned from each experience, good or bad, that prepared me for this role, but this is where I ultimately wanted to get to.”

Ricci knows her line of work is not for everyone, but death is something she’s always felt comfortable talking about. Her grandfather was a funeral director — a career path her son followed — and the topic of dying was freely discussed in the family.

“I was always exposed to that,” she says. “I felt comfortable in extending condolences. That was always something that was on the forefront and talked about.”

Ricci sees up to six patients a day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but that doesn’t mean her day always ends there. Ramie O’Brien, hospice operations manager and Ricci’s supervisor, remembers when Ricci went out at 9 p.m. to be with a new orientee who needed help.

“She always goes above and beyond,” says O’Brien. “She is a leader to the staff and a really good patient advocate. Whether that means she sees eight patients a day because she had two emergencies or had to attend to the death of a patient and she doesn’t get done working until later, she’s dedicated.”

Ricci says her work ethic is rooted in something she heard in church the day before she began her job with AHN: “Take time to be present in the hour of need.” She wrote that on a piece of paper and looks at it daily before seeing patients or interacting with her co-workers.

Ricci becomes emotional when talking about the patients who have touched her life, including the man with 11 children, each of whom took turns caring for him and treated Ricci as one of the family. She recalls the 96-year-old veteran, who, in his 70s, became a golf starter at one of the local courses.

“He worked until he was 95 years old,” she says, choking up at the memory. “I just had a great relationship with him and loved to hear his stories.”

It’s those stories that let Ricci know she’s found her purpose.

“I’m glad I found this niche and it’s welcomed me,” she says.  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

The 400-Word Review: The Silence

Netflix's new horror film has a plot unfortunately similar to a giant hit. Can it succeed in spite of that bit of bad luck?
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

Comments

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Comments

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

Comments

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

The pop-up laser tag arena takes the mechanics of online video games into a undeniably cool setting.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Comments

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Patience, persistence and taking what the game gives is critical in Round One.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

Comments

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Brides choosing one (or several) different colors, but leaving the design up to the bridesmaids, help attendants feel comfortable within their own budget.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

Comments

Room2Grow Reveals Your Baby's Gender — With a Nursery

Room2Grow Reveals Your Baby's Gender — With a Nursery

After designing a room around their child’s gender reveal, Chris and Stacy Galiyas are shopping around a reality show where they do the same for other expectant parents.

Comments