Jennie Edmundson Nurse Who Found Her Calling Later in Life Is Honored With The DAISY AwardPublished: May 2, 2022
Nursing wasn’t the first career choice for Kami Houser, ADN, RN – or even the second.
“Every career test I ever took growing up said I should be a nurse,” she said. “But at that time, I thought all women were nurses, secretaries and teachers. And I really wanted to show that I could make it in business. I was kind of stubborn that way.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Houser spent several years as a market and consumer research analyst for Conagra. Then she transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom and ran her own business providing transcription work for the Douglas County Probation Office.
She began reassessing her career path about 14 years ago as she watched nurses caring for her grandmother before she died.
“I kind of wished I had that knowledge and understanding, being able to do what they did,” she said. “I think my love for nursing just grew after that. But it wasn’t my time.”
Her time came about four years ago. As she helped her daughter study for an anatomy and physiology class, she joked, “Maybe I could be a nurse.”
Her husband, Devin, overheard her and immediately responded: “You know, you should be.”
After more prodding from him, Houser checked into the Associate Degree Nursing program at Iowa Western Community College. She was enrolled a few weeks later and hasn’t looked back.
“I didn’t think it could happen, but my husband pushed me to pursue my dreams,” she said. “He deserves a ton of credit.”
A Close-Knit Family
Houser joined the Acute Care for Elders (ACE)/Medical Surgical Unit at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital less than a year ago, but she’s already made an impact on patients and her coworkers. Her compassion and skill were recently on display as she cared for Bill Storey and his family.
Bill and his wife, Wendy, were no strangers to Jennie Edmundson. Wendy’s mother and aunt had worked as nurses at the hospital, and the family trusted the hospital with their own care.
“It just seems like everybody at Jennie talks to you,” Wendy said. “It’s reassuring, like you’re in a friendly place.”
That was no different last fall as the Storeys found themselves at the hospital again, but this time under the most difficult of circumstances.
Bill, a father of five with nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, was visiting his doctor for a routine appointment when he had a heart attack. He was rushed to Jennie Edmundson for care, then began his recovery on Houser’s unit. For two weeks, Bill’s health improved, and he began cardiac rehabilitation. But just when it appeared Bill may be nearing discharge, he began experiencing complications from his COPD, and his health declined significantly.
“He said, ‘I just can’t do this anymore. I want to go home,’” Wendy said.
It was an emotional moment not only for the family, but also Houser.
“I just remember how close-knit they were,” she said. “They were all concerned about Bill, and I remember him just looking at me, holding my hand and telling me what he wanted. He didn’t want to be a burden on them. Just their love for each other and willingness to sacrifice for the ones they loved was pretty impressive.”
“Precious” Final Days
Houser had already made an impression on the Storeys during Bill’s time at Jennie Edmundson, but when Bill decided he wanted to begin hospice care at home, “That’s when she kind of took over,” Wendy said.
Houser worked diligently with the hospital’s social work team to help move along Bill’s discharge, which resulted in more time for him to spend with family during his final days.
“The two days we had with Bill at home were pretty precious,” Wendy said. “We had everybody here, probably 20 people here for two days. While it was kind of a sad time, we had a lot of laughs. They were probably the most important two days we had.”
Honored With The DAISY Award
Wendy was so grateful for Houser’s efforts that she nominated her for The DAISY Award, which honors nurses for their outstanding care. And she made a point of being at the hospital when Houser was surprised with the award. So did Houser’s husband and several other family members.
Hearing Wendy’s nomination, which noted Houser’s “tremendous compassion” and “exceptional personal interest” took her back to the fall and caring for Bill.
“It brings tears to my eyes,” she said. “I truly care for all of my patients. I just feel like all of life is about relationships and connections you can make with people, and that’s just what I had done with them. They’re just such an easy family to love. I think everybody that I work with deserves awards, honestly.”
Seeing Houser honored for her care was a powerful moment, Wendy said, but well deserved.
“She was probably the best nurse I ever ran into, and I’ve run into a lot of good nurses,” she said. “She was the most compassionate person I’ve ever been around. She made you feel like she was part of your family.”