In memoriam: Douglas Brant

Home health was a calling

This story was published in the Winter 2023 issue of The Washington Nurse.

41 illustration 1 large

Douglas Brant, a long-time dedicated home-health nurse at Providence Visiting Nurses Association in Spokane and a member of WSNA, was killed while caring for a patient Dec. 1. He was 56.

Brant arrived to care for his patient, Jean Chandler, at her mobile home park at 1:30 p.m. — his first visit with the patient, who had recently had a stroke. Jean Chandler and her husband, Willard Chandler, were in the living room, and their grandson Mitchell Chandler was in the kitchen cooking.

According to published accounts, an hour into the visit, Brant was shot and fell to the ground, and Mitchell Chandler walked into the living room and shot Brant again while standing over him. The elder Chandlers called police, and the suspect was apprehended 20 hours later. Brant died of multiple gunshot wounds, and Mitchell Chandler was charged with second-degree murder (which was changed to first-degree.).

Jean Chandler told police her grandson has mental health issues from traumatic brain injuries sustained in bull riding, and court documents indicate the suspect has a history of violence and threats against workers, according to The Spokesman Review.

The news has shocked the community.

While workplace violence is all too common, a killing of a nurse is rare.

Providence Visiting Nurses Association issued a note to staff the day after the shooting calling Brant’s death “an unspeakable tragedy.”

“Patients loved him, and he was especially favored by the ‘little old ladies.’ He was known for being incredibly kind, compassionate, and spiritual.

“Outside of work, he was a friend, a brother, son, uncle, musician, and as most of you know, he was very close with his sister, Trudy, who was part of our Providence family as well. Doug was always trying to better himself and inspired others to do the same. His stories, his sense of humor, his memory, and the essence of who he was has changed people’s lives for the better.”

Brant’s career with Providence started at Providence Home Services King County (2005-2013), then Providence Hospice of Seattle (2013–2018) and Providence Visiting Nurses Association (2018-2022).

Brant was a treasurer of WSNA at Providence VNA and was looking forward to advocating for nurses at WSNA’s annual Lobby Day in January.

WSNA President Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN, was a home health nurse with Providence VNA for 17 years and never could have predicted a home health worker would be killed on the job.

“It is a calling and a joy to meet patients where they are and provide care in their homes. I never imagined that violence of this magnitude could affect me or my fellow home health nurses. While the killing of a nurse is a rare event, workplace violence in healthcare, sadly, is not. There is no reason why Doug Brant — or any other nurse — should, in a matter of seconds, go from caregiver to victim.”

In his bio on Wenatchee Valley College’s website, Brant wrote about how he wanted to help people by using his nursing degree.

“You can’t really separate any part of the human being. Nutrition, lifestyle, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being — all of this is very closely connected,” Brant said. “In Isaiah 45:2, the Bible says, ‘I will make the crooked places straight,’ and I’d like to help others in that way. I would like to learn how to put these pieces together in a way that is accessible to people for their entire well-being.”

Nurses remember their colleague Douglas Brant

At a candlelight vigil Dec. 21 in Spokane, more than 250 came to celebrate Brant’s life. Guests heard from fellow Providence Visiting Nurses Association (PVNA) nurses Kathleen Thompson and Amanda Crawford; WSNA President Lynnette Vehrs, who worked at PVNA; David Keepnews, who introduced the many VIPs; AFT President Randi Weingarten, who reminded everyone of the magic of home health nurses and the need to celebrate light; and Trudy Dant, Doug’s sister, who shared a job with him at PVNA. View photo gallery.

Doug and I shared West Plains territory and often covered for each other. … If any patient had a guitar laying around, Doug was such a gifted musician that he would pick the guitar up and start playing. One day, I covered for Doug, who was seeing a young, troubled kid with injuries. The patient was very impressed with Doug because ‘that old guy played music from my favorite band!’ Doug could connect with any of his patients not only through his music but also his kind, fun loving, and compassionate personality.”
— Donni Heidenson, RN
Often, there would be two SOS (save our ship as in an emergency) visits that needed to be picked up, and Doug would do both with an already full schedule. And he was so, so, so kind! He seemed to really love his job. This world lost an incredible soul.”
— Kaarene Parker, RN
Doug was my best referral source! I got a request from him nearly every week to see one of his patients. He always gave me so much information about the patient ahead of time so I could be prepared for the visit. Early on, he loaned me a book about the health benefits of plant-based eating. He was pleasantly surprised to learn I was already promoting this with our diabetes patients. From then on, we often ‘tagged teamed’ our patients to give plant-based eating a try. I appreciated his confidence in me. I will miss him in so many ways.”
— Kathleen Thompson, RN WSNA local unit chair
I always felt like everything was going to be fine each shift I worked with Doug. My best memory is being at the glass doors of the high-rise across the street from the convention center. It had taken a few times around the block to find parking, and after getting halfway to the high-rise, I had to turn around because I left my computer in the car...when I finally made it to the glass doors, I could not remember how to get in. I stood staring at the doors, trying to remember how I had gotten in last time. I grew despondent (hunger, last patient, downtown), and I know I slumped my shoulders down and wanted to just melt into the ground. I noticed movement to my right, and when I looked over it was the best sight ever! Doug! He asked what I was doing...then showed me the new call box and how to dial in to get the doors open. It made my day to cross paths with him. He was a true and admirable gentleman, and my heart aches for everyone who was fortunate enough to know him and is grieving his loss.”
— Mary Vince Cruz, RN
Other than being an amazing co-worker, he was just an awesome human being. So kind, transparent, humble, and could befriend anyone. You could tell that his patients truly enjoyed having him, and some even said he was like family to them! ...One afternoon, I was expressing my concerns about OASIS charting and how these quality reviewers scrutinize everything, and how does he cope with this?! He said he had one perfect OASIS start of care in five years. I don’t know if anyone else has done that, but he deserves a medal! We both just laughed and laughed! I will miss his smile and laugh the most. No words can describe the deep ache that is felt right now from his passing, but there is peace knowing that he is now with the true Comforter forever!”
— Brittany Barmes, RN
Doug did me a favor and traded some days for me last year. As usual, it was kind of a ‘you’ll owe me later’ kind of thing. … The trade gave me Mother’s Day off. I never asked him, but I suspect he didn’t really need the trade, that he was just being an exceptional human and wanted me to have Mother’s Day off ♥.”
— Jennifer Eastman, RN
Many times an SOS was sent out in Doug’s area, he would offer to take it, no matter what it was. I always felt this showed what true dedication he had to his patients and his job. VNA wasn’t a job for him. It was a calling.”
— Kathy Beach, RN
Brant doug humpty dumpty