VA nurse from Quechee killed in I-91 crash

(Editor’s note: This article by Tim Camerato was first published in the Valley News on Jan. 4, 2017.)

BARTON — Upper Valley nurses are mourning the loss of one of their own after a Quechee surgical nurse was killed in a car crash on Monday.

Stacy Bissell, 45, began working in November at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, according to a VA spokesman.

Bissell also worked as a hospice nurse at Bayada Home Health Care in Norwich, and recently held a management post at Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire.

“She was a fabulous hospice nurse,” said Kristen Barnum, a division director at Bayada, on Tuesday.

Barnum said she fielded phone calls throughout the day on Monday “from staff, friends and family of people she cared for.”

“We can’t say enough wonderful things about Stacy,” she said.

Police say Bissell was killed on Monday night after her 2014 Honda Accord left the southbound lane of Interstate 91 in Barton. It traveled through the median and entered the northbound lane, where it collided with a 2006 Subaru driven by 59-year-old Richard Farrar, of Newport.

Rescue crews were called to the accident shortly after 8 p.m., according to a Vermont State Police news release. Bissell was pronounced dead at the scene and Farrar was taken to North Country Hospital in Newport, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The incident is under investigation, and police haven’t determined whether speed or alcohol played a role, according to the news release.

At work, Bissell exuded a sense of professionalism and maintained a calm presence, Barnum said. Whether working with families or dying patients, Bissell had the special ability to “comfort without saying a word,” she said.

Before coming to Bayada, Bissell worked as a nursing administrator in New York and Massachusetts. In 2015, she was hired as director of nursing services for Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire, where she managed daily home care services for the organization’s 1,000 patients.

“I think Stacy was a very accomplished, energetic person, and we felt when we hired her that she would fit the culture of caring for the community in their homes,” said Jeanne McLaughlin, the nonprofit’s CEO.

Bissell was known for always bringing an upbeat and positive attitude to her work, traits that her co-workers came to enjoy, McLaughlin said.

“Honestly, our hearts and thoughts and prayers just go out to her family,” she said.

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