“Victor Fagan has shown that he is the epitome of an extraordinary and compassionate caregiver. Mr. Fagan is selfless and always thinking about others first.”
Victor Fagan Sr., LPN is a licensed practical nurse working for the Pittsburgh, PA Veterans Affairs where he’s committed to working with compassion for the veteran population the VA serves. His journey with the VA started when he himself was discharged from the U.S. Army, and began receiving medical care at a VA branch in Buffalo, NY. He was impressed and grateful for the dedicated care he received and found himself thinking, “These people are doing really, really good things and they’re treating their veterans really well–how can I do that?”
Once he began working at the VA, Victor quickly realized the significance of compassion for patients. His philosophy in working with his veterans is simple: he emphasizes their ownership of their appointments and meetings. “This is your time,” Victor reminds patients, “This is your exclusive time that I get to spend with you and you get to spend with me. This time is carved out for no one else but you.” One patient says of Victor, “One feels as though they are the only thing on his agenda at that moment; you’re never hurried, yet Victor ‘gets it done’ in a timely manner.”
His compassion also unfolds in useful and heartfelt ways, from calling patients to remind them of upcoming visits, to helping celebrate patients’ birthdays and milestones. Once, he developed such a close bond with a patient that he was contacted by the patient’s son to invite him to the patient’s 90th birthday party. Another time, upon noticing a veteran’s child who had a worn-out pair of shoes, Victor purchased a new pair with his own money for the child. The family was overcome with gratitude for his kind gesture.
Beyond exhibiting compassion in caring for his own patients–“my veterans,” he calls them–he also encourages and supports his colleagues’ compassion as well. He’s been known to purchase gifts or flowers for his teammates when he witnesses them going above and beyond with a patient, going even so far as to anonymously send flowers to a colleague for her exemplary work. “Though Victor excels in his clinical duties,” says one colleague, “it is his compassion and insight into other’s feelings and issues that sets him apart. It is common knowledge in our clinic that if we need someone to listen, Victor is the one to go to. He makes no judgement and places no blame. If you want a person full of wisdom and compassion to help you with your problem, Victor is the man.”
“Compassionate care means making my veterans feel valued and respected,” says Victor. Today, he is working on building a Wall of Heroes in the waiting area of the Pittsburgh VA, featuring their veteran patients with an accompanying photo of them in uniform, along with the dates of their service, and whatever else the patients choose to share. The branch leadership has approved the concept and Victor is at work in putting it into existence.
“We’re going to put this somewhere in perpetuity, so people will really get down to eye level and understand what they did in the service for this country.’” Victor says. “It was just really very important for me to let our guys know that, ‘You’re not going to be forgotten.’”