Helping people is something Brandy Fortner has always done, as a teacher and a customer service representative. But it wasn’t until 2013 that she found her calling when she entered the healthcare field as a direct support professional.
Her dedication to supporting the people she serves and her colleagues was quickly recognized. In 2015, Brandy was promoted to shift supervisor. Two years later, she was named team lead for the Hilltop location in Dripping Springs, Texas, where she and her team currently support up to 16 individuals who have experienced a traumatic brain injury or other catastrophic illness.
Brandy relates to the residents on a professional and personal level. She experienced trauma of her own when she survived a brain aneurysm—one that doctors said gave her a five percent chance of survival.
“This job is very personal to me,” she said. “I understand what it is like to wake up one day, and everything you know is different. You see a lot of patients fall into depression. Family and friends may be out of state. It’s our responsibility to give them hope, to keep pushing them and helping them move forward.”
Brandy helps patients adapt to their new normal, whether she is taking 15 individuals who use wheelchairs to a football game, creating recognition boards for staff and patients, or taking patients on trips of a lifetime. Brandy is always thinking about how to enhance the experience of patients and employees.
Brandy is so much more than a team leader; she is a change maker. Her ability to see each patient as a whole person and teach staff how to have that same level of empathy is unparalleled.