It’s a stressful situation when Kathy Bryan has to bring her 85-year-old mother to St. Francis Medical Center as she deals with health issues including pain and difficulty breathing. However, the family is grateful that the St. Francis team embraces them with open arms and does their best to make everyone as comfortable as possible.
“The staff has always been great every time she has been here. They are always incredibly attentive,” Bryan said. “My mom has some hearing loss and now that people wear masks, she can’t read lips, so the staff is extremely patient and makes sure she understands everything that is going on and knows what they are saying.”
During one recent stay, Bryan’s mother and family were especially moved by the care they received from registered nurse Blair Jackson. For Jackson, serving others as a nurse is a way for her to live out her strong faith each day.
“The first thing I do when I come to work is pray,” Jackson said. “I just say, ‘Lord, let me take care of these people the way you want me to.’ I believe that if God is with me, I can do anything. I try to visualize the care I would want if the patient was myself, my grandmother or a sibling. I try to think about how to make their day a little less stressful in a hard situation.”
Jackson said she believes in starting off on the right foot with patients. That’s why she always gives them a warm welcome, introduces herself and lets them know that she will do her best to make them feel better.
“It’s really just about being nice and showing compassion,” Jackson said. “You can run into people in any type of job who don’t want to be there, and it shows. I try to let them know that I want to be here and I want to care for them.”
Bryan said that level of care also puts her at ease. She lives about 25 miles away from the hospital and is her mother’s only surviving child, so it has been especially meaningful to know that her mother is in good hands whenever she has to leave.
“It makes me feel so much better to know that the people at St. Francis will take care of her like she was their own mother,” Bryan said. “I know that if there is an issue, they will call me. If they need to ask me something or need to get my mom on the phone to help explain something, they will do it to make sure she knows what is happening.”
That high level of care and compassion is embedded into the culture at St. Francis and even extends to non-clinical staff, including housekeeping. Bryan’s mother has been especially happy to get to know Ciara Hayes, who has been a housekeeper at the hospital for about six months.
“The first thing I do is go to the room, knock on the door, introduce myself, tell everyone good morning and ask their names,” Hayes said. “I make sure to talk to them and that creates a bond between us. I’ll start talking about my two kids and they’ll tell me about their families.”
For Hayes, these conversations come naturally. She was raised by her grandmother and said she has always communicated especially well with older people. But, no matter someone’s age or circumstances, Hayes said she has “just loved to talk” for as long as she can remember.
“That’s why I want to work around people,” Hayes said with a laugh. “I’m a very friendly person and I just love being around others. When someone starts smiling and tells me to come back and see them if I have time, that really means the world.”
Ever mindful of her duties, Hayes also takes the opportunity during conversations with patients to remind them to stay on top of safety protocols, including wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and keeping their environment sanitized.
“I see that as a part of looking out for the patient,” Hayes said. “I just always think about treating people how I want to be treated and having respect for everyone. That’s how I was raised and that’s the way I’m going to continue to live my life. I think I have a good heart and I just love sharing it with people.”
Jackson agreed, especially since every day she works at St. Francis is a day she gets to live out her dream. She wanted to be a nurse since she was a child but ended up working in other fields as a single mom raising two sons. Eventually, Jackson decided to pursue her passion and enrolled in nursing school at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she graduated at age 48. Through her education and experience, Jackson has learned the importance of a holistic approach to care, including making sure patients have the right at-home medical equipment and information to make follow-up appointments.
“I’m blessed to be doing what I am doing, and that’s why it’s a ‘wow’ moment anytime you hear a compliment or something really nice,” Jackson said. “For someone to acknowledge you and see what you do, it means a lot and gives you extra motivation. It makes me feel like I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing and that I’m exactly where God wants me to be.”