Cindy Faubion named nurse of the year


Diana Zimmerman

Cindy Faubion, who has a long history of nursing and volunteerism in the local and regional communities, has been named a March of Dimes nurse of the year.

This June, Cathlamet resident Cindy Faubion was named Nurse Coordinator of the Year for Southwest Washington and Oregon by the March of Dimes.

She was one of 17 nurses honored that day, out of what someone estimated to be 50,000 nurses in Southwest Washington and all of Oregon.

"I'm just a small town girl," Faubion said in an interview recently. "I'm just an old fashioned small town girl. I feel kind of humbled going to Portland and getting an award or meeting with the regional chief nursing officers, because I'm not a truly outgoing person. I feel quite humbled, even embarrassed because I'm just doing what I love doing."

Two and a half years ago, Faubion began working as a care coordinator nurse at St. John Hospital in Longview. She makes sure that people who are being discharged from the hospital or skilled nursing are connected to the resources they need to maintain their health and independence.

"Often people are discharged from the hospital thinking they are strong enough to maintain in the home, and very often, that is just not the case," Faubion said. "Our team, the care coordination team, swoops in and calls them after they have been discharged and makes sure everything is going okay. Very often that's when we find that there are some needs that they didn't anticipate."

Faubion started at the hospital seven years ago when the clinic in Cathlamet transitioned to a federally funded clinic.

"They offered to have me stay on as a manager," she said, "but I'm not manager material. My job is to work with patients and enhance their outcomes."

She loves her new position, though she misses working in Cathlamet and misses the relationships that come from working with patients and their families while nursing in a small town practice.

Her work as a care coordinator nurse is bringing some of that back around. She's gotten to work with former patients, but there has been a call to return to a more personalized service.

"I've had a lot of fun doing it because it is very much the same thing I did for years as the clinic nurse," Faubion said. "With health care the way it is these days, people are very often falling through cracks. When I started nursing, the doctors remembered everyone in your family. Now when you call, very often you talk to a different person, maybe even in a different department every time you call. They don't know you and they certainly don't know your family."

She's able to give her contact information to patients. And she will follow up.

"If they run into road blocks they can call me," Faubion said. "They are going to know that I remember who they are and I recognize what their needs are so they don't have to explain their story several times. And so it's been a success. I tell people that I am going to be the person who cuts through the corners and I'm going to get them the services that they need."

Five days a week, Faubion drives to Longview to meet with hospitalists at 7 a.m. She works with clinicians and triage nurses to help provide the resources and care to patients who are being discharged. She no longer does hands on nursing as she did in Cathlamet, but she's doing assessments over the phone, and building relationships with patients to make sure they are still thriving in "five days or three months or six months."

Faubion graduated from Wahkiakum High School in 1971 and went through the nursing program at Lower Columbia College.

"I was considered to be the one in Girl Scouts who stayed calm in emergencies," she said. "I decided I was going to go into nursing and go to Vietnam as a military nurse, but thank God, the conflict ended."

"I was a registered nurse when I was 21," Faubion remembered. "So pretty doggone young. I had a lot to learn after I got out of school. When I look back it's just amazing that I was able to complete the nursing program."

She began her career working in ICU at St. John Hospital.

"Doctor Phil Avalon actually hired me away from the sisters at St. John," Faubion laughed. "They were so angry at him because they thought I was going to turn into a good nurse. Of course I was as green as grass at that time."

She had several mentors, including Dr. Phil Avalon and his son, Dr. Richard Avalon, and other doctors and nurses in the community.

"I worked with people like Judy Zimmerman," Faubion said. "I remember so many good times working with her. I've been just blessed to work with people who were always able to teach me."

In 1980, she participated in the paramedic program. She had some second thoughts at first because she figured that as a nurse she didn't need the training. But she was learning so much she decided to give it a year.

Her decision to stay in the program forever changed emergency services in Wahkiakum County.

"At that time, we didn't have IV, we didn't have advanced life support in this rural area," Faubion said. "We had ambulances with basic EMTs but working with Dr. Phil Avalon and the education I had gotten as a paramedic we were able to incorporate IV therapy, cardiac therapy, and actually provide advanced medical support here in the county."

She volunteered with the Cathlamet Fire Department for 35 years, and she is most proud of her work there.

"We took rural health care into cutting edge, state of the art care," Faubion said.

She also feels a certain pride in seeing several of the students that she has mentored through the years become successful nurses.

Volunteering is still an important part of her life. She can be seen at football games, providing standby. She teaches occasionally at the fire department or helps the Lions Club with their health van. Most recently she started working with the local VFW to help connect veterans with resources.

Faubion is living a life she never imagined when she was wandering the halls at Wahkiakum High School. She figured she would be a stay at home mom. Besides, the high school guidance counselor told her she wasn't college material. She found out later he told a lot of people that.

"I was devastated," Faubion said. "I don't want any child to feel like they aren't good enough to aspire to their dreams. But I got involved and I got hooked on my work. I'm still learning every day. I have been a nurse for almost 43 years. Nursing has been truly what I love doing. I didn't think I was doing anything special."

Oh yes you have, Cindy Faubion. Yes you have. Thank you.


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