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Woman works as a nurse on third floor of OGH with her two daughters and a niece

Posted on: 05/05/2014

By Christopher Michel - Olean Times Herald - May 4, 2014

OLEAN — They’re the ones on the front lines of medicine. They work alongside doctors. They make sure patients are getting the care they need, or simply provide reassurance and compassion.

Today marks the start of National Nurses Week, a weeklong celebration of the work nurses do. For four women at Olean General Hospital, the call to be a nurse runs in their DNA. Holly Weaver and her daughters, Kristen and Katie, and her niece, Danielle, all work on Olean General’s third floor where patients recuperate.

“I would have never dreamed something like this would have happened,” Holly told the Times Herald. “It’s so wonderful that we are working side-by-side.” Holly has worked at the hospital for 11 years. She was drawn to nursing at a very young age.

“I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl. I love helping people and I love helping them feel bet-ter,” Holly said. “I graduated from Angelica Central in 1983, and I went to college at Alfred State for medical office assisting because I liked the office work of the medical field and thought it would be a good career for me.” A few months before graduating college, Holly found out she was pregnant with her daughter, Katie, and felt a different calling in life — motherhood.

“I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work full time, so I stayed home with her and worked as a waitress a few evenings a week,” she said. Holly returned to the medical field in the early part of the last decade, taking a job as an office manager and administrative assistant at Alfred University’s health center for several years. She began working at Olean General in 2003 as a radiology clerk before becoming a unit clerk.

The next year — the same year Kristen and Danielle graduated from Belfast High School — Holly enrolled in nursing school at Jamestown Community College’s Olean campus in 2004. After earning her degree in 2006, she began work as a full-time nurse on the hospital’s third floor.

“When I was going through nursing school, my daughters were right there with me,” Holly said. “They were helping me study for tests and they loved learning about nursing.” For Katie, her mother’s studies piqued her curiosity in the nursing field. “My mom worked very hard when she was going to school,” Katie said. “I always found what my mom was learning about — the way the body works — very interesting.” After graduating high school, Katie earned her certification as a nurse’s aide and worked at two nursing homes in Allegany County.

She started as a nurse’s aide at Olean General in 2007 and is currently working her way through the nursing program at Jamestown Community College’s Olean campus. Like her mother, Katie finds joy in what being a nurse allows her to do — care for others.

“I really love helping people and seeing them get better,” she said. Danielle and Kristen have spent practically all of their lives together. The cousins are only a few weeks apart in age. “We’re best friends,” Danielle said. “And we’ve always done everything together.”

As the pair went through high school, both participated in BOCES’ New Visions Program, taking courses in health. “That really showed me what the nursing atmosphere was and I really enjoyed it,” Kristen said. “I got hired (at Olean General) in 2008 and I worked as a nurse’s aide. Being a nurse’s aide really helped me to see what it was like to actually be a nurse and see the work nurses do in helping people and caring for people. That’s what made me know that this is the direction I wanted to go in life. “I love being around people and helping them,” Danielle said. “You learn something new every day when you’re a nurse and every day is different.”

After graduating from Belfast High School, the cousins attended Alfred State College and enrolled in its nursing program. Like in high school, Danielle and Kristen took many classes together. “We were able to go through a lot of the good times and tough times in college together, which was really helpful,” Kristen said. “We studied together and talked about what we were learning almost every day,” Danielle added.

In 2011 Kristen returned to the world of academia, this time with her mother. Both attended Daemen College in Buffalo where they earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing last fall. “It was fun to go to school together,” Kristen said. “We weren’t in every class together, but we took a lot of the same classes. Again, it was really nice to have someone going through the same things I was in school.” Katie intends to continue on the same educational path as her mother and sister and plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing as well.

Though work as a nurse is often demanding, the Weaver women all agree working together makes the job much easier and enjoy-able. “We keep things very professional, but working together helps keep things relaxed, which really helps with this line of work,” Kristen said. “I never thought I’d work with my mom, my sister and my cousin,” Katie said. “It’s a lot of fun and we work well together.”

“We all do our own thing to care for our patients and can help each other out,” Danielle added. But for Holly, working side-by-side with her daughters and niece is a source of great pride. “We’re all very close, and spend a lot of time together outside of work,” she said. “I’m honored that they each chose to follow my foot-steps.”

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