Beacon Falls town nurse in a league of her own

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Beacon Falls town nurse Sue Mis, left, checks senior center President Bernadette Dionne’s blood pressure.

BEACON FALLS – When Sue Mis became town nurse ten years ago, she tried to reach out to other town nurses to find out what the job entails, but she couldn’t find any others. That’s because the position is unique to Beacon Falls.

About 18 years ago, when the town still had a population of less than 5,000 people, Beacon Falls got a grant to provide an agency nurse. As the population rose, the town was no longer eligible for the grant, but the position was very popular, so the town made it into a regular position.

For 20 hours a week, Mis’ services are available to all residents of Beacon Falls, free of charge. The town pays her by the hour.

Some people Mis sees every day, others just once a month, depending on their needs. But, all are welcome.

“If anyone would like to come in, I’d love to see them,” Mis said.

However, because the position is so unusual, many people in Beacon Falls are unaware of Mis or the services she provides, she said.

As a registered nurse, Mis can check blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and hemoglobin. She makes house calls to help patients with their medicine and check their general well-being. She’s also responsible for workman’s compensation cases.

Mis’ services extend well beyond screenings.

At the center, Mis has a lending closet with donated walkers, wheelchairs, canes and other durable medical equipment that anyone can borrow as long as necessary at no charge. And, once a year, Mis takes a bus of people to Griffin Hospital to do a mammogram screening.

“I pretty much do whatever needs doing,” Mis said.

One client isn’t able to get their containers open, so Mis stops by to help out.

“She goes way beyond her call of duty. We love her tremendously and we wouldn’t trade her for all the tea in China,” said Bernadette Dionne, senior center president.

While her office is in the senior center, Mis spends a lot of time making house calls to seniors. While she is there, she takes a look around to make sure their environment is safe and make sure they have food.

“The work I do is really important to me because I go into people’s homes and I might be the only person that I see all week long,” Mis said.

They look forward to having someone come in and talk to them, Mis said. She has a strong connection to the people she sees.

“One time a lady had a real irregular heartbeat that might not have been picked up otherwise,” she said.

Residents don’t have to be members of the center or even seniors to use her services. Although her hours fluctuate depending on people’s needs, she is always there Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m.

“If somebody can’t come and see me until three, well, I’ll wait until three,” Mis said.

Over her 10 years as town nurse, Mis has become an integral part of the senior center, participating in a host of activities with seniors, from arts and crafts to blanket making.

“It’s really good for your mental health,” said Jeanette Bogen, a member of the senior center. “She has a lot of patience.”

A few years ago, Mis took a group of seniors to get tattoos.

“I was 69 when I got my first tattoo,” said Dionne. She’s since gotten two more.

When anybody calls, Mis is always there to help them, said Millie Kevit, another senior center member.

“She never makes you feel as if you’re bothering her,” Bogen added.

When not attending to the needs of Beacon Falls residents, Mis works at the Watertown Convalarium.

Mis started out as a psychiatric aid, and then got her nursing license. She intended to keep working in the psychiatric ward, but found her calling while temporarily working with senior citizens at Griffin Hospital.

“I discovered that I really, really liked taking care of senior citizens. … I chose long-term care and I’ve been in long term care ever since,” Mis said.

Mis said working as town nurse in the best job she’s ever had.

“Of all the positions I’ve ever held, I think the work that I do is the most meaningful,” she said.

Mis is available on her cell phone anytime at 203-560-1586.