Company: Contra Costa County
Location: San Pablo, Calif.
Hannah Head recently retired as a PHN from Contra Costa County in 2011. She spent more than 40 years in clinical practice. Nursing, teaching, mentoring, consulting and serving under-served communities is her passion, and she hopes that retirement will allow her to pursue those things in new ways. She wishes to be accepted by and available to others, and show them what she can do as a retiree. She wants to learn how to use technology in the most effective and efficient way. Ms. Head volunteered in nursing homes while she was waiting to get into school, and she entered into a successful career in critical care. She got into the community outpatient part of the job, and just kept discovering other areas that she fell in love with, such as community nursing. She then looked into community suffering, and ended in community nursing, caring for children and handling foster care, where she worked for seven years. She loved her kids and made sure that they received all they needed. She feels that nurses need to be trained properly, so her goal is to be a consultant and mentor, and help prepare and ensure qualified professionals. She also wants to be able to hold health organizations accountable. Ms. Head is doing God’s work; she thinks that it is important to find what one is good at, and do it. It is an honor for her to see others grow in whatever they are doing.
Ms. Head has three post-retirement projects planned. Presently, she is writing three books, which when published will help fund charities. She is also actively working as a member of the health ministry, peace camp and deacon church auxiliaries, as well as serving as chairperson for the emergency preparedness task force for Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church. Lastly, she is developing a national quilt titled ‘Forever After’ for the purpose of documenting the history and identities of young African-American males who were murdered. This data exists and suggests that this specific population is officially considered an endangered species and too easily forgotten because the murders have become an unnatural norm. She spent 15-plus years in the emergency department in a nursing role, and saw this epidemic first hand. Quilts proved effective for such projects as breast cancer and AIDS, and helped bring awareness, increase treatment options, and increase the survival rates of those diagnosed. Quilt making was also used by slaves as a creative way to communicate a path to freedom by those being hunted. She plans to have the same impact with her quilt as other projects. The plan is to go national and include all segments of the community especially students, families, churches, organizations and businesses.
Ms. Head attributes her success to growing up in a time when schools were being desegregated; it became clear that education was extremely important. No women in her family had gone to college or graduate school, so she went for her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, and to break the legacy. She became involved in her profession because, according to her mother, she was always a caregiver as a little girl. The only real profession for women in Texas was a teacher or nurse, unlike now. So she worked her way through school from San Antonio, Texas, and moved to San Diego, Calif. She found a school in Oakland, and started taking nursing student courses; she also did some undergraduate work and received a diploma. Ms. Head took her skills and made a difference, and has two mentors that helped her accomplish her career goals. When she was pursuing a master’s degree, someone helped her on her thesis topic about men in prison, and the top five things that are killing them. She actually nursed them, and helped them deal with death, and was able to make a difference. Her goals are to encourage, teach, mentor, write a book and engage in public speaking.. Her mother told her that she was always doing something medically related as a child; she had a little toy medical bag that she carried around the house, and was always looking to fix things. She had an innate attraction to medicine and knew that was where she belonged.