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Monongahela nursing assistant honored for compassion, care of hospice patients

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Nancy Ruschak was named Hospice Aide of the Year by her employer, Amedisys Inc.
Nancy Ruschak was named Hospice Aide of the Year by her employer, Amedisys Inc.

Nancy Ruschak first learned from a friend that Albert Gallatin Home Care was hiring a certified nursing assistant.

The Carroll Township woman immediately knew the work was for her.

“I wanted something more rewarding to do,” Ruschak said.

Since 1979, it has been more than a job for Ruschak, it has been an avocation.

Recently, Ruschak was named Hospice Aide of the Year by her employer, Amedisys Inc.

The Baton Rouge, La.-based health care-at-home company chose Ruschak from among hundreds of nominees across 37 states.

The award was presented to Ruschak for demonstrating “clinical excellence with patients, positively influencing patients and families, and functioning as an outstanding member of the care team,” according to the company.

Amedisys serves 360,000 patients each year at homes, hospitals and care centers, and has more than 14,000 employees nationwide.

Ruschak has served as an aide with Amedisys Hospice of Monongahela for 34 years. She was nominated by her supervisor, Vickie Carolla.

Amedisys acquired the center from Albert Gallatin Home Care in 2008.

Ruschak said the most rewarding aspect of her job is taking care of people.

“After you give someone personal care, just to see the smile on their face,” Ruschak said. “I treat everyone with respect.

“Some of the women I work with say this is so hard. It's not hard; you just have to love it.”

Ruschak said many of the families are grateful for the care the patient receives. She also loves hearing her patient's tell their life stories.

“Everybody touches me,” Ruschak said. “They all touch my heart, and I hope I touch their heart too.”

Ruschak admits it takes a special person to do the work she does.

“You have to have a lot of patience and a lot of care and compassion,” Ruschak said.

Ruschak, 62, resides in Carroll Township with her husband, Thomas. The couple celebrated 26 years of marriage last week. Their daughter, Suzanne Ruschak, resides in Charleroi. Their son and daughter-in-law, Thomas J. and Maureen reside in Fayette City, with her three grandchildren, Sarah, Grace and Sam.

A 1969 graduate of Brownsville Area High School, she worked as a medical assistant in Morgantown, W.Va., and was certified as a home health aide in 1978.

A member of the United Methodist Church of Monongahela, Ruschak enjoys gardening in her free time.

Her 10 to 12 hour work days keep her busy.

A personal health crisis for Ruschak put things into perspective. She was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, which was removed Sept. 13, 2012.

“It was devastating because I had to call my boss,” Ruschak said. “It was like the rug pulled out from under my feet.” It was that same supervisor, Carolla, who nominated Ruschak for the award.

The experience gave her a better sense of what her patients go through.

“Even when I took this job, I would put myself in their shoes, how would I like to be cared for.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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