Karen Shaffer, RN, BSN

Tell us about yourself?

About your job:  I work full time here at Washington Health System as a Staff Nurse in Acute Care. I also work part-time in another local health care system.

Did you take on any additional tasks during COVID 19?  Yes we have many additional tasks that have been added to our daily work regimen. We realized early on that we needed to change our entire approach, because it’s like nothing we have seen before and its continuously changing. When we have a patient in isolation for confirmed or suspected COVID, it is a multistep, time consuming process for us to get our PPE on to go into and out of the room.

How long have you been employed at WHS?  I’m starting my 14th year.

Was it always in the same department?  Yes, I’ve pretty much worked in the same department for the past 13 years. Although, I have tried the management role a time or two, but I much prefer the bedside aspect of nursing.

Education:  I graduated from Waynesburg College in 2007. I was the last “Official Class” to graduate from the College prior to it changing to a University.  I like the nostalgia.

Hobbies outside of work:  My hobbies are very scattered. I enjoy the love of learning new things, from working on my new house one week to doing something crafty the next week. I have an underlying love of helping the community in various ways as well.  I am also a special education/Autism Advocate.

Family, pets, etc:  I am a single parent of three children: twin boys Benton (20) and Randy (20), and Natalie (18). All three of my kids are in college at various intuitions. Benton is a sophomore at California University of PA Honors College studying Political Science/Pre Law. Randy is at Pittsburgh Technical College for Criminal Justice. The boys are also Eagle Scouts Class of 2018. Natalie is a freshman at Shippensburg University studying Forensic Chemistry and Criminal Justice.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Cooking in my newly decorated kitchen. I have always wanted a Coca-Cola Kitchen. I was able to complete this with my new house. When I get free time I enjoy watching murder mystery shows on TV or docuseries of Netflix, hulu etc.  Traveling is another favorite past time, especially with family and to the beach.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It is funny when you think of this; I would never have a thought of being a nurse.   I wanted to be a lawyer.  This profession comes into play when I found myself a single parent trying to support my family.

What is the best event/concert/etc, you’ve attended?

I enjoy a variety of things. Aside from the normal kid events like preschool programs, graduations, and the boys’ Eagle Scout ceremony, I like to see a ballet and enjoy a good rock concert. Probably some of my favorites are The EAGLES, PINK FLOYD, John Melloncamp, and Tim McGraw.

Do you prefer online shopping or in store shopping?

It depends on what I’m shopping for. Most of the time shopping is online with the exception of grocery shopping.  I find it easier with the hum drum of life.  I often will order on line for curbside pickup too.

If you were given a free plane ticket to visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Well, interesting fact about me, I have never been on an airplane. So I honestly don’t know. It would have to be a good one though.

What do you want people to know about the COVID 19 pandemic?

We are all in this together whether you like it or not. I know that it is not comfortable to have to go by all the rules and regulations that are being set forth. I dislike wearing a mask as much as the next person, but I do it because of my children, my aging mother, and other family that I my come in contact with. I do not want to bring this home to my family after I have been working with an active patient. Please think of all the healthcare workers that have to have a multistep process to get in and out of a patient room. This may be you or your love one that may need us in a hurry and have to wait for us to get geared up to care for you. Think of your loved ones and take care of yourself and them. Wash your hands, wear a mask, and social distance. When available it does work. Create your new normal that considers all of these things.  Take care of your mental health as well. We do not know the long term effects, or hidden effects, of not having things as we used to know as “normal”.

What do you want people to know about the Washington Health System?

I want people to know that it is safe to seek healthcare in general. We have protocols in place to keep everyone safe. Staff members often think about our patients, and wonder if they are doing alright, or if they are scared to seek treatment. Please, if you have health conditions, it is still important to continue your healthcare plan.

Photos of Family

Karen remodeled her home kitchen with a Coca-Cola theme