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Inspiring Stories

Jennie Edmundson Nurse’s Attention to Detail Leaves Lasting Impression on Patient’s Family

Published: Dec. 27, 2021
Bill Mills
Bill Mills

Bill Mills was no stranger to heart conditions, often receiving care at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center over the years.

But when he experienced his eighth heart attack in October – and MercyOne had no beds available – the retired teacher from Manning, Iowa, was taken to Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital.

“He was nervous about going somewhere else,” said his daughter, Karol Dammann. “Afterward, he just kept saying, ‘I was so worried, but I’ve had the best care ever here.’”

 

“I’m Here for My Patients’ Needs”

A key part of Bill’s care team was progressive care nurse Steffani Lemos, RN, who made an impact on him and his family just hours after he arrived at Jennie Edmundson.

“What really impressed me was that the day we arrived, she was working a 12-hour shift that ended up being longer,” Karol said. “I don’t even know how many hours she was working that day. But she assured Dad that she’d be back in the morning and would be his nurse.”

Lemos remembers the moment, too, as she was hanging fluids and explaining things to Bill and his family.

“They were all very overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s always hard when you have a family member in the hospital. I stayed until about 8 p.m., and he asked me, ‘What are you still doing here? You work until 7.’ I said, ‘I’m here for my patients’ needs.’”

Naturally, Karol wanted the best for her ailing father. But she was also watching the Jennie Edmundson staff’s care through the lens of her own medical experience, which includes over 30 years of long-term care nursing. And she was pleased with what she saw.

For example, when Lemos learned that Bill and his wife were hard of hearing, the nurse made extra efforts to lean in and speak clearly or lower her mask at a distance so they could see her lips. Lemos also quickly picked up on Bill’s sense of humor, joking along with him when he’d give her a hard time. And when simply talking to Bill at his bedside, she’d touch his arm or shoulder – a gesture Karol called “heartwarming.”

“When you establish a good relationship and have that trust, it sets the tone for your entire hospital stay,” said Karol, who now supervises the mental health unit at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll, Iowa. “It wasn’t just that Steffani was kind, caring and compassionate. You could also tell that he felt very comfortable with her clinical skills.”

To Lemos, it’s all part of her role as a nurse.

“Every moment with my patients is special to me,” she said. “I truly believe that taking care of a person is more than just handling meds. It’s all about the love behind it. The compassion. Involving not only the patient, but the family as well. Taking care of a human being, it’s just taking care of everything they care about.”

 

Karol Dammann and Steffani Lemos
Karol Dammann and Steffani Lemos

A Special Award

After four days at Jennie Edmundson, Bill was discharged. Soon after, Karol nominated Lemos for The DAISY Award, which honors nurses for their extraordinary skill and compassion. In her nomination, Karol described Lemos as “kind, considerate, compassionate, empathetic and humorous.”

“The day that I wrote up her nomination, I shared with Dad that there’s this award for nurses, and I nominated Steffani,” Karol said. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s really good. She deserves that.’”

Sadly, Bill passed away a few weeks later from heart and kidney failure. On her way to his funeral, Karol received an email with the news that Lemos would receive The DAISY Award.

“I immediately called Mom,” Karol said. “‘You’re never going to believe this.’ I was like, ‘Wow. This was meant to be.’”

A few weeks later, Karol, her mother and her brother were on hand at Jennie Edmundson as Lemos was surprised with the award.

“There were tears,” Karol said. “I could tell it meant a lot to her.”

“Yes, it is pretty special,” Lemos said. “But I couldn’t accomplish it without my team, my unit. We have wonderful teamwork. I feel like we all deserve it.”

Lemos said she’ll always treasure the award because it reminds her of the difference she can make every day.

“I’m very thankful,” she said. “I’ll never be able to do anything other than being a nurse. It’s such a humble position, and I learn from my patients. My patients change my life. I don’t think I ever realized how much I could change their lives, too.”

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About the Author

Patrick Smith, a content strategist for Methodist Health System, has over a decade of experience writing and editing for newspapers and other publications. He enjoys meeting new people and telling stories that highlight Methodist's mission to deliver The Meaning of Care.

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