Trina Cysz, RN-C, BSN, MPH

Energetic people pack a lot into a short time span … one such person is Trina Cysz, a nurse who is part of VIM’s medical team. Unlike so many of our volunteers who moved to the Berkshires, Trina is a local girl. She and her three siblings grew up in the area and she attended St. Mary’s School and Lee High School.

As a woman of action, Trina describes her childhood as being “very boring” during the winter months — despite the fact that she was a constant skier at Bousquet Ski Area. In High School she took a job working in the rental shop at Butternut and joined the Junior Ski Patrol there. Each summer through high school and college she worked in the box office at Tanglewood. Even as a young child Trina thought that when she grew up she would like to do something that involved helping people …“I think it was always in my head to be an emergency-type person, something like an EMT.”

Trina attended the University of Massachusetts (UMass) for Environmental Engineering and Geology and also took pre-med classes “so if I wanted to change, I was ready.” Her first job post-graduation was as an Environmental Engineer / Geologist for a firm out of Boston. This was a big organization with government and private contracts, and the assignments took her all over the country. The work included pipeline projects, endangered species site protection, brownfield mitigation, and other site cleanups. Trina began as a Field Technician and later became a Project Manager. She also worked as an environmental engineer in Vermont and later back in Eastern Massachusetts. After ten years of this type of work, her company was beginning to explore jobs that were opening up in Iraq and Afghanistan. She decided to change direction. Trina returned to UMass and started a second bachelors’ degree program for nursing.

After graduation she began working at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield while attending graduate school for a Masters Degree in Public Health at UMass. She also worked at VIM a few times per month. Not to be content with those three degrees, Trina continued into the phase in which we find her today – completing a second MS to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) … No wonder there are so many letters after her name: RN-C, BSN, MPH. She hopes that her NP coursework and clinical rotations will be completed by May 2016.

Somewhere along the way, Trina found time to get married. She met her husband Patrick at the Boston ski show when she was a snowboard instructor and he was the owner of a snowboard camp business at Sugarbush Ski Area and was technically her boss! He bumped right into her in the check-in line at the ski show. They got married less than a year later and she moved to Vermont to be with Patrick. She then worked in Burlington as an environmental engineer and a snowboard instructor on the weekends.

They are currently living near Amherst with their two rescue dogs Hana and Cricket. Patrick is the co-founder of a financial services business in Boston, where he works several days a week. He is very supportive of her continued educational efforts.

During her nursing training Trina completed a month-long clinical rotation in the Belfast City Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and experienced the National Health Scheme there first hand. In Northern Ireland when supplies ran out toward the end of a funding cycle, the staff would just have to make do – they did without very basic items like gloves and a sufficient number of bedpans! She found the preventive care excellent, but some other aspects of a nationalized system less patient- friendly. This was before Romney-care was introduced – so Trina was somewhat nervous about how the new Massachusetts system, and subsequently Obama-care, would turn out. Now that she’s experiencing it first hand, she sees the pros and cons.

How and when did she become interested in VIM? Trina has been associated with the clinic since 2007. While shopping at Guido’s one day, she noticed the sign for VIM and walked in to ask if they needed any nurses. At the time she was not feeling all that comfortable working in a big city hospital, so thought Great Barrington and a small clinic would be a nice change. Although she grew up in the Berkshires, Trina says she had no idea of the needs of so many of its residents until she came to VIM … “It’s a whole other side of life — gives one a different picture.” Her work at VIM was a “natural fit”, coinciding as it did with her Public Health studies.

Trina still works for Baystate on the weekends, but in their smaller, more rural satellite facility in Greenfield. She is very happy there. In the summers in the Pioneer Valley area near Greenfield, there is a seasonal population of farmworkers who make use of the hospital. These workers pick tobacco, cucumbers, and other produce. “At the hospital I’m a floater — I go wherever they need me — ICU, stress lab, orthopedics … cardiac is fun. I love cardiac rehab because you’re seeing people get better, helping them through the recovery period — it’s my favorite work.” She is also currently working as a quality assurance, infection control, and case manager nurse at a residential hospice in Amherst.

VIM has benefitted from her growing expertise and the breadth of her knowledge and skills. Here at VIM, besides her routine nursing duties, Trina has been involved in the newly funded Shared Medical Program. This program works with a small group of patients battling high blood pressure. They meet for monthly for six classes to discuss progress and problems, learn preventive lifestyle strategies such as diet, exercise, stress reduction, smoking cessation, and have general support. “The patients all support each other, and it helps them when they see that someone else has similar problems.” The results of this program are very positive.

Trina sees the strength of VIM services as the ability of clinicians to spend TIME with patients: “ At my other nursing jobs — you’re so immersed in billing, and insurance info-gathering and passing medications that it takes away from the human component … you’re talking to a computer while you’re with the patient, whereas here you get to hear the whole story, and find out things you wouldn’t necessarily hear in a brief hospital interview.”

Her hobbies? Anything outdoors — especially hiking in the Adirondacks, Colorado or Lake Tahoe. Trina has hiked 15 of the Adirondack High Peaks so far. For the last seven years, she has run the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society Pet Food Bank, a program for elders and others who can’t afford to buy food for their pets. She and Patrick also work with other animal rescue organizations, especially pit bull rescue. They also love to travel — St. Croix is a favorite place. It’s good to know she finds time for R and R in her busy life.