FAIRFIELD – Jefferson County Health Center has a new advanced registered nurse practitioner specializing in family practice. Her name is Viviane St. Cloud-Noel.
St. Cloud-Noel had a fascinating childhood that was split between two countries. She was born in New York but spent her early years from the time she was 6 months old until she was in high school in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti.
She returned to New York as a teenager and obtained an associate’s degree in nursing before moving to Georgia, and now most recently, to Fairfield.
St. Cloud-Noel said her interest in medicine was fostered by her grandmother, the family’s matriarch, who “exuded a nurturing spirit” while caring for her small community and family. She inspired St. Cloud-Noel to pursue a degree that would allow her to care for others.
After returning to New York, St. Cloud-Noel was introduced to the medical field through her high school. She initially wanted to become a physician but that changed after attending an internship while in high school. She job shadowed an amazing nurse who prioritized personal connection with her patients.
“She explained, ‘Care is care; however, the manner in which it is delivered has to feel personal,’” St. Cloud-Noel recalled the nurse telling her. “That thought resonated loudly, and I decided to switch to become a nurse instead.”
Shortly after graduating high school, she became a licensed practical nurse through the Vocational Education Extension Board in 1992, then obtained certification to become a registered nurse through the Helen Fuld College of Nursing in Harlem, N.Y. As her family grew and her children aged, the family relocated to the small town of West Point, Ga. In Georgia, St. Cloud-Noel earned her bachelor of science in nursing from LaGrange College, graduating suma cum laude and made the school’s National Honor Society.
In 2017, she got her master of science in nursing from South University in Savannah, Georgia.
One thing that stands out on St. Cloud-Noel’s resume is her language proficiency. She has mastered four languages: English, French, Haitian Creole and Spanish. Haitian Creole is Haiti’s native language, which is grounded in French, Spanish and other Latin tongues.
St. Cloud-Noel learned English and French starting in elementary school and added Spanish to her repertoire thanks to family members and formal classes as a teenager.
“My love for culture and serving different populations grew with every language I mastered,” she said.
St. Cloud-Noel said knowing multiple languages helps her build rapport with her patients and ensures their needs are met. She said patients often shy away from seeking medical help when they don’t speak the local language and can’t find an interpreter.
“I pride myself in delivering culturally competent practice and being able to connect with patients through their native tongue,” St. Cloud-Noel said.
St. Cloud-Noel said she hasn’t had many chances to use her foreign languages since moving to Iowa, but she has spoken Spanish with a few patients.
As a specialist in family practice, St. Cloud-Noel treats all patients, from infancy to adulthood. Most of her experience is treating adult and geriatric patients, but she has a background in pediatrics, too.
“I love having the opportunity to treat families and watch milestones,” she said.
Jefferson County’s newest nurse said the most rewarding part of her job is knowing she has done her best and that her efforts, “with God’s divine intervention,” have helped optimize someone’s health.
The most challenging part of the job, meanwhile, is not being able to cure everyone.
Since the pandemic hit Iowa in March, St. Cloud-Noel said her focus has been on both the physical and mental wellbeing of her patients. She said it’s important to remember the psychological component to health, because “an unhealthy mind can trigger physical ailments.”