May 7, 2020 – Last winter, an elderly couple was five hours into
a trip down I-95 when the unthinkable happened. The husband had a heart
attack and died, leaving his wife alone and far from home. In her darkest
hour, human kindness intervened.
Emergency Care Center nurses stayed with her for five hours while her family traveled here.
The nurses brought her meals, communicated with the family and held her
hand as she sat with her husband,” says Lisa Dickerson, MBA, BSN,
assistant administrator at the Southeast Georgia Health System
Camden Campus. “When I heard that, I thought, ‘This is what we do’.”
Judith Henson, R.N., BSN, MSA, vice president of Patient Care Services at the Health System agrees.
“We see people at their best and worst. We get to be part of major
life events – from birth to the end of life. And it’s our
honor and privilege to see them through those times.”
Nurses Week is May 6-12, but the American Nurses Association declared all
of 2020 the “Year of the Nurse” to honor the 200th anniversary
of Florence Nightingale’s birth. This recognition seems especially
appropriate now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
If anything sums up nursing, Henson says it’s a Gallup poll, ranking
nurses highest among 22 professions for honesty and ethics. Gallup, an
American analytics and advisory company known for its public opinion polls
conducted worldwide, reported in its poll for 18 consecutive years that
nursing is the most trusted profession in the United States.
Diverse Roles, One Purpose
Many people may picture nurses at the bedside and in the ER, but some nurses
are also educators or oversee patient safety and case management. Some
work in informatics, using technology to improve patient outcomes. Still
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). “These specially trained
Emergency Care Center nurses provide exams and support to victims and gather forensics information,”
Regardless of the many responsibilities, every nurse embraces one purpose.
“Their primary role is to be a patient advocate, and to help ensure
the health and safety of the patient,” says Henson. “They
can’t be afraid to stand up for patients and be their voice.”
And they must do so in a fast-paced environment. “Nurses make critical
decisions and prioritize every minute of every day. They’re intuitive
while being good listeners and communicators,” Dickerson says.
While quick thinking is key, the days are long. “Nurses complete
the task at hand, whether bringing new life into the world, remaining
in the OR when a two-hour surgery takes four hours or staying with patients
at the end of life. A 12-hour shift can easily turn into 14 hours,”
Rising to the Occasion
Considering the job requirements, it’s not surprising when Dickerson
says, “Nursing is not a paycheck, it’s a calling.” This
devotion is being tested now more than ever as Health System nurses face
“I’m proud of their flexibility during these challenging times
dealing with this pandemic. We reassigned many of our nurses from surgery to the
Emergency Care Center, ICU and the
COVID-19 unit. Others volunteered to help with COVID testing at the Health Department
and a long-term care facility. Many were offered big salaries to work
elsewhere during this crisis but stayed to care for our community,”
As a witness to that loyalty, Dickerson believes, “It’s important
to thank them for their commitment to community, best practices and patient
That commitment will remain long after Nurses Week. “I hope they
understand how integral they are to patient care and how much we appreciate
them,” shares Henson.
If you are a nurse who would like to join our team, please call 912-466-3115.