Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm
Lisa Alberte is more than a nurse. She is a case manager, a vocational rehabilitator and she has a dozen certifications – one of which is as a fork lift operator. Lisa provides expert testimony for attorneys, runs her own company and still finds time to raise a family, write a book and decorate cakes.
“A fork lift is no different from driving daddy’s truck or tractor,” says Alberte, who was raised on a farm in Chaseburg, Wis.
She obtained her fork lift certification 12 years ago because a patient had fallen off a fork lift and had suffered a brain injury.
“That’s what’s made me very successful at what I do,” Alberte says. “I get to know the person’s life – what their abilities and strengths are. I work with their employers – the injured still can contribute and be very successful at a job.”
As a nurse, vocational rehabilitation specialist and the president and chief executive officer of Lisa K. Alberte & Associates in Muskego, Alberte delves deep into her patients’ lives to offer them the most comprehensive care she can. She follows her patient from the injury to their home, setting them up with the resources they need.
That can be a 24-hour job. Some days, she works all three shifts.
“I have to accommodate for what my client needs, which means I’m up at 2 or 3 a.m., and my day ends at midnight,” she says. “Sometimes I work a 24-hour day, with only an hour in between.”
In that hour, Alberte does aerobics and takes a quick shower.
“That’s the fun of it. I’m always doing aerobics of the mind. I do physical aerobics to keep my day going,” she says.
Alberte also is finding fun in the newest treatment she will be offering — once it’s trained, that is. “Spunky,” a two-pound toy poodle, is the latest addition to her family.
“He used to be my pocket poodle,” she says. “He’s in training so he can work with patients with severe disabilities like brain injuries. Pet therapy can be the best way to go.”
Some patients, such as Elliot Lubar, require the full-range of Alberte’s services.
In November 2004, Lubar suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. He spent time in several hospitals before finding Alberte.
“She helped me with adjustment to my disability,” Lubar says says. “She was successful in helping me restore hope and my self-identity at a time when I needed it the most. She helped me mourn who I was and accept who I am as a result of the injury.”
In another case, Alberte helped a patient who was thrown from a moving vehicle.
“A younger man was thrown from a moving vehicle and sustained severe brain injury,” she recalls. “I worked with the family even though they didn’t have funding initially. We modified their home, got them set up with the resources they needed. It was in a small Wisconsin town, so there weren’t a lot of resources readily available, and their insurance company was denying their claims left and right, but I continued to advocate for them. I stuck by their side and helped them through it and gave them the emotional support they needed.”
To reach even more people, Alberte is writing her first book on brain injuries.
“The biggest thing is people need to know there’s hope,” she says. “People with brain injuries just do things differently; it’s not that they can’t do things.”
To work in such a difficult field, Alberte says humor and hope help her along.
“There are days I struggle,” she says. “I embrace the hope and power and enthusiasm in others.”