In honor of National Disability Awareness Day on July 26, we wanted to share an inspiring story about Felice Vigil, a caregiver at Penrose Hospital. Felice is a Registered Nurse who is currently a Certified Case Manager in the Oncology department at Penrose. Although she was born hearing and speaking, Felice experienced profound hearing loss and is now deaf. As you will read, Felice is very creative and has used technology to help her provide whole person care for patients, which included babies in the NICU earlier in her career.
Name and title: Felice Vigil, RN, BSN, CCM
What do you do?
My primary role in the Care Management department is hospital discharge planning. However, case managers help patients and families connect with the right resources at the right time. We are strong patient advocates! We are the caregivers who coordinates the patient’s care across the care continuum.
Tell us more about your path to Nursing - why did you choose this profession/specialty?
Throughout my nursing career, I have had the pleasure of working in the NICU, acute rehab, Home Health Care as a Nurse Liaison/Care Transitions Coordinator and in my current role as a Certified Case Manager at Penrose Hospital’s Oncology floor.
But nursing is my second career. When my grandma was alive, I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, and subsequently spend cherished time with my grandparents. I got to see firsthand the amazing work the Home Health Care nurses provided. I thought, “If I am going to help (my grandma), I want to provide the best care.” For me, that meant obtaining a nursing degree. I was also interested in labor/delivery, and I love babies. The idea of caring for infants drove me to Pikes Peak Community College to find out how to become a nurse.
You were one of the first students at PPCC’s Nursing program who was deaf, what were some of your challenges and biggest accomplishments?
I was born hearing and speaking. My hearing loss was discovered when I was about 19 years old and has progressed to “profoundly deaf.” When challenges have arisen throughout my life and nursing career, I have always faced adversity with a “can do” attitude. I have not ever viewed myself as “disabled”.
In the deaf culture, being deaf is not a disability, as many hearing people believe.
For me, I rely on some easy workarounds to accomplish the same goal as hearing people. I have a sign near my desk explaining the best ways to communicate with me. For example, it’s helpful when a person has my attention before speaking. Facing me when speaking ensures that I can see facial expressions and read lips.
I have an amplified stethoscope, where I can adjust the sound to a level which works best for my hearing loss. There are so many tools out there which help make things a little easier for Deaf and Hard of Hearing healthcare professionals.
I encourage others to ask me questions about my hearing impairment. When a person asks me about my deafness, I use the conversation as an opportunity to educate others about the deaf culture and how to best communicate with me.