Rikke Sorensen, RN, BSN, MBA, Nurse Administrator
Nurse Administrator Rikke Sorensen knows the importance of responsive, caring nursing for our patients.
“It matters how we greet and treat patients, how we interact with them, and how genuine that care is,” she adds. “It’s real, and the patients feel it.”
While she doesn’t have as much personal contact with patients as her nurses do, she sees the patients’ comments on satisfaction surveys.
“A common thread is that they feel the nurses care about them as individuals, that they matter. For example, a patient will write, ‘The nurses made me feel like I was the only patient here, and I know I was not.’”
Seeing Renewed Hope Makes the Work Worthwhile
Nurses put in long hours. They work with arriving patients needing detox. During treatment, they check their vital signs and respond to daily medical concerns. Then they see patients as they leave, prepared to start lives in recovery.
“Departing patients come through the Special Care Unit to get discharge packets from the doctors. That’s when many express their appreciation to us. ‘I need to tell you this before I leave,’ they say.”
“Seeing patients leave with hope and a renewed feeling that life is worth living–that’s tremendous! That’s what makes you say, ‘Oh God, this job is worth it.’”
Likes Making the Nurses’ Jobs Easier
Rikke enjoys assisting her staff in doing their best for patients.
“I like to simplify processes so they can spend more time with the patients, looking at things from the patient’s perspective, and taking their opinions and preferences into consideration.”
She wants to be able to do the same with her staff. “I will always listen to what people have to say.”
Solid and Life-Changing
Having worked with various addiction treatment programs, when Rikke says La Hacienda’s is “solid” and “life-changing,” she has a solid basis for comparison.
One reason for those claims is that the various La Hacienda departments work as a team.
“We come together and see the whole patient. Nothing is missed. We take into account medical, psychiatric, nutritional, financial, family, spiritual needs. All of that is looked at and assessed.”
Was Looking for a Job, Found a Career
Rikke says her first exposure to work in detox and substance use disorder treatment came by chance. She had grown up wanting to be a chef on a ship. There were no dreams of being a nurse, let alone SUD treatment.
In the early 1990s, she and her husband arrived in Boston, and she needed work. It was pre-Internet, so she took her LVN training and literally walked from hospital to hospital inquiring about jobs.
As chance would have it, a small, primarily psychiatric hospital with a detox unit was her first workplace. She started in the orthopedic wing but soon moved to detox.
“I thought, ‘This is cool. I like this. I can do this!’ It was interesting and unusual.”
Different experiences in the field only reinforced her interest.
When Rikke says, “I have been around,” she’s not kidding. A native of Denmark, she has easily traveled the farthest to join the La Hacienda Treatment Center staff.
From Denmark, she went to New York City via a several-month layover milking cows in Iceland. With her husband, she drove to Seattle and back to New York City, then up to Boston. And that was just for work-related moves.
The couple also has a yearning to travel, and a vacation to Big Bend included a stop in Fredericksburg. They loved the town and decided to buy property for retirement. Purchase of a 150-year-old Sunday house in primitive condition was the result.
Renovation started with trips every five weeks, carrying power tools in suitcases lugged through airports. Eventually, they hired professionals to finish the renovation.
‘We’ll Figure Out the Rest’
The Fredericksburg house turned out to be more than just a place to retire.
“One day, I came home from work, and my husband said, ‘Hey, this place called La Hacienda outside of Kerrville is looking for a nurse administrator.”
Rikke pointed out that they didn’t live in Texas. Her husband was undeterred. He would stay and sell their Massachusetts home, then follow her to Texas if she got the position.
“We’ll figure out the rest,” her husband concluded.
She got the job. He moved to Texas and is now semi-retired. They live in Fredericksburg and still like to travel.
Fluent in Danish and English, Rikke is a dual citizen of both the US and Denmark.