From Hospital Nursing to Community and Disaster Nursing with the Red Cross
Updated: Sep 23
By Ashley Peterson-DeLuca
For 48 years, Juanita Sieben served as a Critical Care RN Specialist in a local hospital. Prior to retiring, Sieben wanted to find a volunteer organization to continue serving the community with her nursing career. Now, she has been a Red Cross volunteer in Disaster Health Services and Disaster Preparedness for five years, fulfilling this need.
“With my Red Cross volunteering I have been able to continue my service to the community and my nursing career with a change of focus from hospital nursing to community and disaster nursing,” says Sieben.
With Disaster Health Services, she provides financial assistance for lost medications and medical supplies after a disaster like a fire or tornado. Sieben also supports clients emotionally after a disaster through phone calls.
“Most times, the best support we can give the client is to provide a listening ear. The more they talk about this situation they are in, the faster they move into emotional recovery,” says Juanita.
She has deployed to national and regional disasters over 20 times for Staff Health, Disaster Health Services, sheltering and as an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver. During deployment, responders like Sieben focus on the specific needs of those affected by the disaster as they move toward recovery, like delivering food and supplies to people’s homes or helping people in a shelter access the medications they need.
She is also a member of the local and regional Strike Team. This team sets up the shelter after a disaster to ensure people have a safe place to stay and connect with services.
Another of the many roles she fulfills for the Red Cross is as a Disaster Preparedness Leader for our region. Sieben teaches fire, tornado, and winter safety to all age groups. Disaster Preparedness includes the Pedro class for grades K-2 and Pillowcase Project for the 3-5 graders. A fire escape plan is taught with every adult and child program.
Another way she contributes to the prevention of fire-related deaths and injuries, Sieben coordinates the installation of the free smoke alarms locally.
She also teaches Hands-Only CPR to community groups.
“There is no better feeling than having a whole family from toddlers to grandparents learning how to save a life,” says Sieben. “During the pandemic, classes were taught virtually with the participants practicing on a roll of toilet paper.”
Sieben is also the Staff Health Nurse for the region. She checks on the health and provides guidance after other volunteers return home from deployment.
She adds: “I also have the privilege of listening to their amazing deployment stories.”
In her spare time, Sieben loves the outdoors and traveling. She has toured to all 50 states. She loves working in the yard and planting flowers.
She has four internationally adopted children. Anthony is in the Army, Natasha works in Disney World, Jon Paul volunteers for the Red Cross and Ana Marie works locally.
If you are interested in expanding your horizons with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer.