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Caring for Veterans at Work and at Home

VA Nurse and patient talking

VA nurse Drema Bratton with WWII Veteran Prentess Ball who says, “Her smile is infectious. She makes me feel better when she walks in the room.”

VA has an exceptionally talented team of outstanding employees. We would like you to meet them, continuing this week with our dedicated staff of nurses. We will be introducing our remarkable nurses in a continuing feature: VA’s Top Nurses.

By Debbie Brammer, Public Affairs Officer
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Drema Bratton, RN, of Flatwoods, Ky., began her VA nursing career 37 years ago at the Huntington VA Medical Center (VAMC). She has always worked the midnight shift on an inpatient unit.

She was recently presented with the VAMC’s Nurse of the Year award in recognition of her excellent nursing skills and compassionate care for her Veteran patients.

“I had to take a pay cut but it was where I wanted to be.”

After finishing nursing school at Marshall University, Drema worked at a community hospital for about seven years, but she always wanted to take care of Veterans. “I called every day to try to get a job at the VA. When I finally did get hired, I had to take a pay cut but it was where I wanted to be. I was amazed at what was offered to our Veterans. They get wonderful care and services here,” she said.

“Drema is a true example of the devotion of our nursing staff,” said Dr. Mike Skeens, Chief of Medical Service. “Not only is she an excellent, long-serving nurse at this medical center, she intervened last year to save her husband’s life. She sensed something was wrong and drove him to the Emergency Room where he arrested multiple times. He had an extended hospital stay with multi-organ issues and she now does home dialysis for him. “

Drema Bratton, RN.

Drema Bratton, RN.

Missed her award caring for her husband

Drema’s husband, Gary Bratton, is an Air Force Veteran. When he fell ill last July, he spent two weeks on a ventilator and about a month as an inpatient. Drema trained to give him dialysis when he was finally able to return home. Now, each morning after she finishes up her midnight shift at the VAMC, she hurries home and begins the dialysis process. “It takes about four hours from set up to finish,” she said. “We are hopeful that eventually he can get on the transplant list for a kidney.”

Drema missed the VA nursing awards ceremony on May 11, because she was caring for her husband. She was presented with the award the next morning at the end of her shift.

“My husband and I have been married 44 years, and when he found out about my award he was tickled for me,” Drema said. “It is truly an honor.”