BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) - This week's Hometown Hero is a top-notch caregiver. Locally, she was named Maxim Healthcare's "Caregiver of the Year." From there, she traveled to Orlando to be recognized by her employer on a national stage.
Bobi Jo Piper has worked as a licensed practical nurse for 10 years. Late last year, she was recognized as one of the top caregivers in the country.
"With Bobi's enthusiasm and the care that she brings to her patients, you know, when she walks into a room the whole place lightens up. She makes you laugh, keeps you on your toes and people want to be around her at all times. You can see that too referring to her last patient, when he comes through the door and sees Bobi Jo, he smiles, lights up and just runs to her," said Ryan Capretta, Piper's manager at Maxim Healthcare.
"I take care of Sabastyan Haefke, he's a 2-year-old. He has chronic lung disease, he currently has a trach and a G-tube. He was vent-dependent when he came home," Piper said.
Working in such close quarters, Sabastyan's parents say they'll have a tough time saying goodbye to Piper when the job is done.
"It's almost going to be like a part of me is leaving when she leaves. I would consider her my best friend because she helps me out a lot. She's an excellent person, she's an excellent mom," said Lisa Haefke, Sabastyan's mom.
Piper is constantly working to work herself out of a job, but the rewards are great.
"Watching them meet their developmental milestones, watching a parent bring their child through the door for the first time -- it's like a look of nervousness but at the same time excitement," Piper said.
Piper is uniquely qualified to care for her own special needs daughter.
"My daughter's name is Willow, she's 3 years old. She has cerebral palsy and sensory processing disorder," Piper said.
Piper has this advice for aspiring nurses in pediatric care.
"There are ups and downs just like in any field, and you have to be emotionally prepared for that because there are setbacks and you do sometimes have to send the kids back to the hospital because you aren't able to care for them in the home," she said.
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