Nurse Megan Havener of Canastota was born with a heart defect that required surgery at the age of 4. Her chest still bears the 6-inch scar from the operation she underwent June 16, 1989 at Upstate University Hospital.
She has memories of the play room, and the art easel, and the times her blood was drawn, but she remembers a particular nurse named Kate the most.
“She’s the reason I became a nurse. She was like my guardian angle when my parents weren’t there,” says Havener. “She gave me a teddy bear necklace that I still have. It’s in my jewelry box.
“Growing up, I wanted to be just like her.”
Today, she is.
Havener and her mother attended Mohawk Valley Community College together. They graduated from the nursing program last year and took the state licensing exam for registered nurses the same day in July. Both have worked at Upstate University Hospital for eight years. Deborah Havener began as a licensed practical nurse and now works in rehabilitation at the Community Campus. Megan Havener began as a health care technician and now works in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit, caring for some of the sickest children at Upstate.
One of the physicians with whom she collaborates is Frank Smith, MD, the pediatric cardiologist who took care of her when she was a child. On occasion she will share her story with families facing similar diagnoses, although the surgeries today leave scars that are tiny by comparison.
She believes her experience as a patient gives her valuable perspective as a nurse. And, she prefers covering the night shift, instead of days. The pace is slower, which affords her more time to interact with patients. “I like the fact that it’s not constantly busy, and you have a chance to make those memories.”