Ellen Burris may be one of the newest members of the Piedmont Home Care community, but her friendly personality and easy conversation style helped her instantly become part of the family. Starting in January 2022, Ellen took on the role of Director of Nursing at Piedmont Home Care, a job that seemed a perfect fit for someone transitioning out of hospice care and looking for a change of pace.
“Working with hospice was a great experience because it introduced me to the home health field,” Ellen says. She had been working at the hospital with oncology patients, and felt prepared for the transition to hospice nursing. Although rewarding, hospice proved to be more emotionally challenging than Ellen had imagined, and found the right fit at Piedmont Home Care. “It really was serendipitous that I spent the past year in patients’ homes and in nursing facilities,” Ellen says. “When the opportunity to join a team whose main goal is to better the lives of those in need, I could not let it pass me by.”.
Ellen’s day to day job covers a variety of different responsibilities, from assessing new patients to helping match up caregivers with clients. “I went from a job where most of my patients were terminally ill, to a place where we work with people at all stages of life. We have clients who have had surgery and just need the support for a short time, and then we have clients who need ongoing care around the clock. We also provide much-needed respite for the families who are the primary caregivers,” says Ellen. “There is such a broad spectrum of care that we provide and I love getting to be a part of an organization that helps the community.”
Ellen’s background not only includes hospice and oncology nursing, but she also worked as a preschool teacher in northern California. Graduating from Appalachian with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Ellen has been able to utilize strengths from both careers because she found there is a lot of teaching in nursing work.
One of Ellen’s greatest joys in working at Piedmont Home Care is the opportunity to help match up a client with a caregiver and see their relationship grow and the client thrive. “Not long ago we started with a client whose family was very concerned about her decline. She had not been eating, could barely walk, and had not gone outside in years,” Ellen says. After the initial assessment, Ellen and her colleagues brainstormed possible caregivers to take the case and agreed on a perfect fit. Since then, the client has gotten stronger, happier, is eating more, and is actually going outside.
Caring for others and being part of the community are important to Ellen, one reason she enjoys living in the Piedmont Triad Area. Ellen grew up in Winston-Salem, and now she and her husband are raising their kids in Mocksville. “I spent several years living in Northern California, and I loved it there, but it’s nice to be back in North Carolina where people reach out to each other with a strong sense of caring and compassion,” Ellen says. When not running around with her kids enjoying sports and other activities, you can find Ellen and Aaron performing around the area as a duo with their band Sourwood Honey.
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