RN Case Manager
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
As a breast cancer survivor, I know this to be true. I found out I had breast cancer (early) when I finished nursing school.
I was a week from taking my boards and was called back after my mammogram. Life suddenly took another turn, other than what I had expected. I told my oncologist that I was taking vacation with my family and then taking my boards before I decided on treatment plans. After passing boards, I had partial mastectomy then was scheduled for 18 rounds of radiation.
During my treatments, I spent much time in prayer. Today, all cancer is gone and have been cancer-free for six years! The future is unknown if cancer will return. However, my faith and understanding of a positive attitude towards self and life remains my strength.
Team Member Spotlights
Our mission at Brighton Hospice is to provide the best physical, emotional, and spiritual care for our patients and their families.
Achieving this important mission would be impossible without our Brighton team members. We take pride in hiring the most compassionate and skilled people in the industry who deliver clinical expertise and exceed our patients’ expectations.
Our Team Member Spotlight series is our way of highlighting those dedicated individuals who go above and beyond in their commitment to excellence.
Dana Lackner, RN Case Manager
What is something about you that would surprise most people?
I am an open book! I have no secrets or surprises. I guess if I had to tell someone something about me it would be, “I am an Elli Mae.” I love animals. At one time as a child, I had 21 cats outside, a rooster named Cocky, and a dog named Pup Pup.
Another interesting fact about me is that I was born with syndactyly (webbed fingers on both hands). My left hand had seven fingers. Surgery to separate my fingers started at age 3 and ended at age 13. I played the flute in band and was nominated for “perfect handwriting” in first grade. I never allowed my hands to stop me, but I learned at an early age just how cruel kids can be. I sat with my arms crossed most of the time to hide from people until I learned to trust them as a friend. Today, I don’t ever look at my hands as being different.
What is one thing you can’t live without?
My faith. I developed a strong connection to God when I was 13 years old. I know He has carried me along my life, and I can’t imagine life without my faith. Hospice has been a calling and my faith is what keeps me strong to provide compassionate care to those less fortunate in health.
Also coffee!! I enjoy coffee!
Where is your hometown?
I was born and raised in Danville, Kentucky, a small rural city. It has grown much since I left over 28 years ago. My parents are deceased, but I still have many cousins, aunts, and friends there. I try to get home a couple times a year. COVID and restrictions have stopped this in the past two years; however, I zoom with close friends often.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
We enjoy spending fall vacations in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I love the mountains, cool mountain air, and visiting the arts and crafts communities.
What is your favorite book or movie from your childhood?
My favorite movie as a child was The Wizard of Oz. Each character Dorothy met along the way intrigued me! I watched every year that it was shown on network TV from start to finish with a child’s imagination. Even as a child, I knew the man behind the curtain (the wizard) just needed a friend.
If you could spend a day with any person, living or deceased, who would it be?
I was a daddy’s girl. I credit my compassion for others to his example in my life. My dad was just a “simple man” who loved everyone. I was not raised rich, but we were rich in love for others. My dad showed me this by his generosity to our neighbors. He helped the elderly, he dropped milk off on porches to those he thought needed it, and would give his last dollar if he knew it would help someone in need.
My dad passed just one year after losing my mom to breast cancer. He lives inside me and I know he watches over me.
Tell us about your family, friends, pets, hobbies, and passion projects:
I am the youngest of four siblings. I married young (out of high school) and have one son from that marriage who is 33 years old.
Currently, I have been married to my second husband for 30 years on June 15th. We have twins, a boy and a girl, who will be 17 years old in May. I love my children very much.
I was in accounting before nursing and nursing has provided a role model for my daughter, who now wishes to follow in my footsteps as a nurse.
I have a 75-gallon saltwater fish tank that has become my hobby. I am a new “reefer” and have not explored into live coral yet, and am learning a lot about maintaining a salt water tank.
I also have a dog. She is a designer breed, tug (part terrier part pug). She takes all my time and desires a lot of attention. I enjoy taking long walks with her on nice days in the park.
I enjoy time with friends and card games with friends and family.
I am very active in my church, where I teach Sunday school to grades K-1. COVID halted our Sunday school classes and we went to online services for a few months. We have started to slowly restart our children’s classes. My passion is growing these precious children to have a relationship with God in their hearts.
I am very passionate about service to others. With children, I truly feel that it “takes a village” to teach values that will carry them into life. I have also been active in choir and women ministries to the homeless and battered women.
“Dana is an eager, energetic, compassionate, and loyal nurse who is always thinking ten steps ahead about how to meet a patient’s needs. She is always responsive and passionate when providing patient care and hospice education to patients, families, physicians, and referral sources. She is building her own caseload and is her own marketer in her buildings. Dana is always excited about growth and is such a valuable asset to our team here in Indy!”
“Dana always goes above and beyond for her team. She’s always supportive of the whole nursing team and loves to send out reminders and suggestions and is always a team player when any need arises.”
“Dana exhibits Brighton’s values of Excellence through the care she provides to her patients; Compassion is demonstrated by her huge hospice heart; she shows great Loyalty to Brighton and to the hospice field; and she Collaborates with the IDT to comprehensively manage her patients’ care. She has demonstrated a growth mindset, open to growing personally and professionally through opportunities to attend trainings as well as becoming a Brighton Mentor. Through the care she provides, she has been a key player in the growth that Brighton has achieved. She builds her caseload through developing excellent relationships with our facility partners and nurse practitioner partners, building their trust to continue referring to Brighton as their preferred provider.”
– Dana’s Brighton Team Leaders
What inspired you to pursue a career in hospice care?
My dad was diagnosed with gastric cancer and placed on hospice. I took FMLA and spent three weeks home caring for my dad. I traveled from Indianapolis to Danville, Kentucky for four months every weekend.
The nurse who cared for my dad inspired me. She came twice a week and gave us so much support. What inspired me most was her ability to tell our family what to expect. I was always amazed by her knowledge. This comforted our family. My sister and I were the main caregivers to my dad and she helped us work together, even if I was 250 miles away during the week.
My faith has shown me how death can be just as beautiful as being born. After much prayer, the door opened up for me to go into hospice nursing.
How did you first learn about Brighton Hospice?
I received an email from Matt Luper to meet him at The Pyramids in Indianapolis for an exciting hospice position. Honestly, I knew nothing about Brighton and thought, “This is a scam!”
Months later, I began searching for a new company and Brighton reached out for an interview. I worked with our DON, Chelsea Rector, at my previous hospice company. Knowing she was with Brighton was exciting! Brighton truly is a wonderful company and we are a unique team/family. I am thankful to be part of a dynamic team!
How long have you been with Brighton?
I have been with Brighton for one year this June.
What is your proudest moment at Brighton?
My proudest moment at Brighton is my ability to grow my caseload. My networking has developed my confidence in determining hospice criteria and building our team.
What are the challenges of working in hospice care that you’ve faced or would like to shed light on?
I have been a hospice nurse for six years. Even though I have grown in my hospice skills, every day is a new learning experience. It is important to have boundaries and to take care of yourself. The ones you love the most are sometimes sacrificed to give immediate care during crisis. It is important to have family support in my career decision in order to successfully provide this care. I know every day I give my heart to my patients and I have to also save some of myself for family and friends. It’s a careful balance that requires a team. It’s challenging wanting to be the “one to inspire” when so often I am “inspired.”
What are your hopes for the hospice care / healthcare industry?
The word “ hospice” is so frowned upon sometimes. I would love to see medical staff doctors become more skilled in teaching patient end of life and open to having these conversations early. It is always looked at as “death,” when hospice is actually more about living and learning to live with dignity in any end of life disease process.
Having more free-standing hospice home care centers would benefit families who are unable to care for their loved one and don’t want to place into a nursing home. I think more community knowledge about hospice and hospice services would expand care centers. I would love to see more commercial coverage and community involvement in caring for the most vulnerable population.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
When I started at Brighton, our census in the Indianapolis area was around 25 patients.
Today, almost one year later, we have doubled our census!
I am honored to be part of of a great team and company who definitely have hospice hearts. I look forward to growing our census and becoming the hospice of choice for the greater Indianapolis area and surrounding.
Are you ready to join a team of passionate and compassionate individuals?
Joining Brighton means spending each day surrounded by the most passionate, compassionate, and committed teammates, who are driven by a common mission—to provide patients and their families with the best physical, spiritual, and emotional care possible.