Masks are required at all times for visitors to Madonna facilities. Click for more COVID-19 information Read More
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Former ER nurse becomes patient, bonds with nurse aide

December 09, 2021

Throughout her more than 30-year career as an emergency room charge nurse, Rita Peet has helped save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Now, she’s the patient. Rita came to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals from her hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, to recover from an anoxic brain injury.

“Rita is very well-loved and well-respected in her community,” Terry Peterson, Rita’s sister-in-law, said. “The nurses all call her ‘Mama Bear’ because she’s just got that caring and nurturing instinct.”

During her stay at Madonna, Maretis Dosedla, a nurse aide, cared for Rita. The two bonded over their nursing experience, and Maretis would take Rita outside to enjoy some sunshine during warm days.

“Maretis is just a spark plug,” Terry said. “She has this gift to connect with people with her big, bubbly personality. Rita’s face just lights up when she sees Maretis. I can’t even explain it, but something just clicks.”

Maretis has worked at Madonna for nearly six years and cared for several hundred patients. Each one, she says, touches her life in their own special way. When she first arrived at Madonna, Rita was non-verbal, but Maretis continued to talk to her.

“Even though she could not respond, I always tried to talk with her and make her feel important,” Maretis said. “I know she’s in there, and if it were me, I would want to be talked to as well.”

One day, Maretis was shocked when she came to chat with Rita, and Rita responded.

“I thought I was dreaming because she had not talked to anyone yet, not even her family,” Maretis said.

In addition to her speech therapy sessions, Rita practiced having conversations with her favorite nurse aide. Maretis helped Rita call her family and let them hear her voice. Since then, Rita’s family says, she’s talked nonstop.

“Maretis is such a special person, and she has a special gift,” Terry said. “We are so grateful that we came to Madonna, and she cared for our Rita. It’s heartwarming to see the two of them together because they just have a connection.”  

After five weeks, because she was making great progress in her recovery, Rita transferred to another unit at the hospital, and Maretis was no longer her nurse aide. But, the pair have continued the bond they created. Rita asks every visiting family member or friend to take her downstairs to see if Maretis is working.

Maretis says it’s important for care teams to treat each patient as a member of their own family because it helps in the recovery process, and hospitality is a core value at Madonna. She says she’s grateful to work as part of an interdisciplinary team that goes above and beyond in the name of patient care.

“Every moment you interact with a patient is a chance to help in their recovery,” Maretis said. “We, especially nursing staff, always spend a little extra time with them because we know how hard it is to be away from home, and this is the type of care we would want for our loved ones.”

Related Posts