Meet Nanette Hyatt, Deaf Hospice Nurse


Meet Nanette Hyatt, Deaf Hospice Nurse

Nanette Hyatt was diagnosed as being deaf a little before 2 years of age. Being deaf did not stop Hyatt from living like anyone else, it just changed how Hyatt did things. Hyatt never used her deafness as an excuse, and instead used it as motivation to try harder. Hyatt would not be limited in her abilities or people’s expectations of her.

Hyatt does not look at her deafness in a negative way. With all the love and support she received from her parents, she learned to accept that God has a reason for her to be deaf. Part of His plan could be for her to educate others that it is not a loss, and that we are able to live a normal life. Hyatt has had people come up to her and say “Oh, I am so sorry you are deaf!” She responds with, “Don’t be, it’s a blessing.”

During Hyatt’s college years, she auditioned for many plays, however never got chosen. One day, she met with the Dean of Fine Arts and expressed her feelings. He said “It takes a lot of guts for you to come see me and tell me how you feel. I’m sorry for the way you’ve been treated!” After that meeting, Hyatt was involved in multiple plays. They even made some adjustments to her character so Hyatt would play the role of a deaf person.

During the COVID pandemic, Hyatt was faced with a lot of challenges that made communication difficult. She almost gave up her job because communication with medical staff was nearly impossible. Some of the staff had no patience in exchanging written conversations regarding her hospice patients. Even in public, people were not willing to communicate with Hyatt by simply pulling down their mask.

Hyatt has worked in many healthcare settings, but hospice was her calling. “I feel like I have a purpose to work in hospice because with my deafness, I can understand my patients’ body language deeper. Some of my patients are nonverbal, but I can recognize when they are sad or in pain by reading their body language and facial expressions,” said Hyatt. Her patients and her form this special bond, and the families are always grateful despite being hesitant at first due to her lack of hearing, even sharing how they notice then patients’ faces light up when she come to their homes.

Being in hospice has allowed Hyatt to recognize changes that should be made to make healthcare a diverse place for everyone. It is easier to recognize faults in a system when you are directly affected by it, which is why her position offers a perfect opportunity for improvement. By being a deaf person in hospice, she can better identify and put forth recommendations to improve the treatment and care for patients who face a disability like being deaf.

Hyatt has been given a unique perspective on care towards patients who may be deaf by being a part of the hospice community. With her position in the field, she is aiming to create more accessibility for the deaf community when receiving hospice care, and education on what hospice is all about. Many of the deaf patients are not getting proper hospice care due to lack of communication, emphasizing the need for medical staff familiar with ASL to communicate with deaf patients.

“A goal of mine is to eventually try and open my own Hospice company for those with various disabilities and have a staff of medical professionals equipped with the skills needed to treat them properly and easily, such as bilingual and ASL proficient staff,” said Hyatt. Another goal could be partnering up with an already established Hospice company to employ more staff who can offer care to patients who may have trouble communicating or being treated because of their disability.

Hospice patients are just like us, worthy and deserving of our patience and love. Treat them like they are your family members, not as strangers. They look and trust you to protect and care for them, give them the same respect back.