Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Some people are hyper-specialized when it comes to the causes they dedicate their lives to. Not Nora Kramer, a nurse supervisor, trauma educator and the injury prevention and outreach coordinator for Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. During her 35-year nursing career, Nora has advocated for a wide variety of causes, including combatting human trafficking, substance use disorders, and gun violence.
Years ago, while working in Latin America, six girls Nora had befriended from a local orphanage disappeared overnight. She later learned they had become victims of human trafficking; she never saw them again. That first-hand experience led her to become an activist in the area of sexual exploitation. She trains ER staff to recognize trafficking victims and provide trauma-informed care, has introduced the subject into statewide trauma curriculum, and collaborates with community organizations that protect these vulnerable children and adults.
Nora has also been profoundly affected by the opioid use epidemic that has decimated some areas of Philadelphia. She volunteers at a free care clinic and treats some of the same patients she encounters at her hospital. “It’s been a blessing to get to know patients on their own turf in their own neighborhood,” she said. “Many of our patients with substance use disorders (SUD) feel stigmatized and will leave the hospital against medical advice. Working in the clinic allows me to follow up with them in their own neighborhood and provide the support and encouragement to continue the healing process.” She also educates hospital staff about SUD and overdose prevention.
Alarmed by the ripple effects of gun violence, she has developed a close and collaborative relationship with Moms Bonded By Grief, a support group for families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. She has brought them into the hospital to teach caregivers about delivering bad news, provided support and education to victims’ siblings, and has become an advocate for the program. Through her association with Moms Bonded By Grief, she has also been invited into schools to conduct Stop The Bleed trainings, teaching people how to assist a severely injured person when there are no medical professionals nearby.
She brings that same passion and compassion to her hospital work. Said one young patient who was left a quadriplegic after a college hockey accident: “During those difficult days, Nora sometimes remained by my bedside for hours after her shift officially ended.” To keep up his spirits, she promised to take him on a beach vacation after he recovered. She made good on her promise and he spent a week with her and her family on the Jersey Shore six months after he was discharged.
“The road to recovery for many can be a long, winding road with many challenges,” says Nora, “but compassionate care can make that journey an attainable goal.”