Meet Our Leaders | Erica Gaertner, DPCS
I originally tried to be a hospice volunteer in the summer of 2009. The Volunteer Coordinator at the Grant County Fair booth learned I was a freshly minted LPN and said they might want to hire me in that capacity. I went in for an interview and walked out with a job and plenty of confusion as, up until that point in my life, I had never worked with death or dying and had lost no one close to me. I think the many years I had worked as a homecare CNA was my advantage because I was used to knocking on strange doors and making myself at home quickly!
I fell in love with hospice the second day of field orientation. I had an amazing RN training me who was as equally called to hospice. I graduated nursing school and stayed on as an RN. The day after getting licensed, I was handed an admission and told to go do it. I did and was an RN Case Manager for five years. Loved every minute. Went on to become a Patient Care Manager but was still able to take call and deliver bedside care- that keeps me grounded.
For about 4 years, I took a break and was a DNS and later, a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator for a 42-bed skilled nursing facility. The Administrator stint was through the COVID pandemic. I mainly changed jobs due to family stuff. But I always knew my heart and soul was in hospice.
In January of this year, I resigned from my Administrator position. I took a month off to just recover and refocus on my family. I am a wife of 17 ½ years and we have four kids, two Corgis and an old cat. We decided that relocating closer to my family in the Whatcom county area was the next step in our lives. Initially, I was applying to Administrator positions around the area but was not chosen (I ran a Public Hospital District SNF and therefor, had no “for-profit” experience most places were looking for). IT was actually at my Mom’s encouragement that I go back to hospice, the calling that has never let go of me. A brief question to a Hospice Nurse Group on Facebook about who was an excellent hospice employer in Bellingham led me right to Amy Bradley at Eden Hospice of Whatcom County (427).
On April 10, 2023, I started as the RN Clinical Manager here at 427- I have told many that Amy welcomed a Prodigal Daughter back to her hospice home and not only is there an amazing team here at 427, pretty much ALL the people I have met, whether in-person or via Zoom, have been friendly, professional, knowledgeable, kind, funny, and just a joy to be a part of the Eden family. On June 1, I was promoted to Director of Patient Care Services for Eden Hospice of Whatcom, Snohomish and King Counties. My hope is to be a part of this team for many, many years.