Thrive by IU Health

June 06, 2024

It’s a family affair on the CVCC

IU Health Methodist Hospital

It’s a family affair on the CVCC

Three sets of siblings work as nurses in the fast-paced cardiovascular critical care unit at Methodist.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer,

If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a family of sorts at work, you can understand how fortunate three sets of siblings feel to be working on the same unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

Kaitlyn and Thomas Dervenis, Emita and Jaelle Regis, and Branton and Brayson Leazenby all work as registered nurses on the Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit at Methodist.

It’s a situation that Jessica Jones, manager of clinical operations on the CVCC, believes builds on the unit’s already strong family dynamic.

“It has been so wonderful to welcome siblings of teammates,” Jones said. “I think it speaks well of the team that their siblings have heard about CVCC and want to join us. The care we provide is complex, and it makes a big difference to work alongside a team that feels like family and, in some cases, are family.”


CVCC siblings

Kaitlyn is the longest-tenured nurse among the siblings, having joined the CVCC in 2016. In that time, she has taken on multiple leadership roles and recently earned her nurse practitioner license.

Her younger brother, Thomas, followed in her footsteps and joined the Methodist nursing team, finding a spot on 5 East for a year and a half, before moving over to CVCC 2½ years ago.

“I started at the tail end of 2019 right before COVID,” he said, acknowledging that 2020 was a challenging year.

“I never questioned my decision to become a nurse, but it was definitely tough,” he said. “The entire hospital was pretty overwhelmed, but we got through it.”

Coming to the CVCC was always in his sights, he said, because he knew he wanted to work in an intensive care unit.

His sister was convinced it would be a good move for him, and it didn’t hurt that they would be able to work together.

“When Thomas decided to come over here, I thought it was awesome,” she said. “It’s a great environment to learn and grow as a nurse. As you get older, you just want your sibling to feel supported in their work. I knew he would have that here.”

As for sibling rivalry and/or competition, it’s not an issue, Thomas said.

“If anything, it’s the opposite, very team-driven. We are working together to help patients get better. It can be a very high-stress unit, so that teamwork is absolutely essential.”

Known as the “Dervenis duo” on the unit, the pair frequently work the same shift, but those days are ending as Kaitlyn will be leaving soon for a new job as a nurse practitioner.

“It’s bittersweet,” Thomas said, telling his sister, “You’ve been a constant on this unit, a go-to person, for years now.”

Like Kaitlyn, he will be training as a preceptor soon, stepping into a teaching role for new nurses on the 34-bed unit.


CVCC siblings

Emita and Jaelle Regis moved here from their home country of Haiti about five years ago. Although Emita, a year older than Jaelle, was in medical school in Haiti, her sister persuaded her to go to nursing school after they arrived in Indianapolis.

Both say they were inspired to do their part during the pandemic. Emita has been at Methodist for three years, first as a PCA on 7 South, before moving to the CVCC as a day shift nurse in 2023.

When Jaelle graduated from nursing school a year later, she joined the CVCC team on the night shift. Even though they don’t work side by side, Emita said she knows her sister is getting the support she needs as a new nurse.

“She’s my baby sister, and I know she will have a team of people who will support her even if I’m not here. Jess is a good manager,” she added. “She brings the same spirit to all her leaders even when she’s not here. All of her shift leaders are wonderful, and co-workers too. We can count on each other.”

Emita, whose husband is serving in the military overseas, lives with her two sisters, parents and extended family, but “shop talk” does not dominate the dinner table.

“What’s at work stays at work because we don’t get to spend much time together,” Jaelle said.

When one is off, the other is usually working, except one day last week when Emita, Jaelle and their younger sister planned to go out for boba tea and mochi donuts.

“This is our special treat,” Jaelle said.

Jaelle, who started on the CVCC in February, said knowing her sister works on the same unit is both comforting and challenging.

“In the back of my mind, I’m thinking my co-workers know my sister and know she is excellent, so I’m thinking they’re comparing us,” she said, “even though they’re probably not doing that.”

The work is challenging, Jaelle said, “but I’m loving what I’m learning. Since I’ve been off orientation, I expect to see my confidence grow.”


CVCC siblings

The Leazenby brothers – Branton and Brayson – are separated by five years, but nursing and family knit them together. Their sister is also a nurse, though not at Methodist. All three went through the nursing program at Purdue University, and they enjoy swapping stories when they get together.

Branton began working for IU Health as a tech at Arnett Hospital while in nursing school, then in the surgical ICU at University Hospital. He has been a nurse on the CVCC at Methodist for about five years and is dual-trained as an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) technician.

Brayson, who graduated last year, started as a nurse on 2 North in August, before transferring to CVCC just last month. As a kid, he wanted to be a cardiovascular surgeon, but he was drawn to the direct patient care responsibilities of nursing.

“It was always my end goal to be in the cardiovascular ICU,” he said. “The team here works well together, and the learning opportunities are so good.”

The two brothers work different shifts, but Branton said he’s excited to have his younger brother in the same department.

“I think it’s a blessing to work together. I have high expectations of him. He is driven.”

Asked if he feels the pressure from his big brother, Brayson said it’s nothing new.

“Our mom (a school principal) always had high expectations, so I grew up with that. I have high expectations for myself.”


Healthcare is not an easy profession, especially in recent years, but the nurses represented here say they are called to this work.

“I’ve always loved the science and art of nursing,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s a way for me to apply critical thinking while also using a relationship-focused lens and giving back to my community. That’s really what drives me every day is being there for my patients and my community. It’s an honor to be there for them.”

For his part, Branton said he enjoys the flexibility and camaraderie on the unit.

“My passion is for CV,” he said. “There’s no other floor like this one.”

“The beauty of nursing is there are so many avenues you can take, so many opportunities to pursue,” his brother said.

But for these siblings, the ICU is their home.

“We see a lot of very sick patients, a lot of surgical patients,” Thomas said. “But you get to slowly see them get better and better. It’s very rewarding seeing them eventually leaving the ICU.”

Patients, of course, come with their own stories and personalities. Some are kind, and some can be difficult, if only because of the circumstances they find themselves in.

“We see the whole spectrum,” Thomas said. “Some patients you have excellent rapport with, and you want to pop in their room even if you don’t have them that day just to say hi. With others, it can be a little trickier, but you just have to keep in mind they are going through a rough time.”

“We have to give them grace,” his sister agreed. “And give yourself some grace. This is a really tough job, and you can do everything to the best of your ability and the outcome may not be what you hoped.”

That’s why it’s nice to have fellow nurses (and siblings) who understand, she said.

“We’re a family, and we take care of patients like they’re our family too.”

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,

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