‘You Can’t Teach Kindness’: Longtime Jennie Edmundson Nurse Left Lasting Impression on Patient and Her FamilyPublished: Aug. 16, 2022
Eric Sandbothe with his wife, Kris, at The DAISY Award ceremony.
Eric Sandbothe, BSN, RN, has seen a lot in 25 years of nursing at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital. But he got the surprise of his career last month while working a shift in the Critical Care Unit.
After being coaxed away from his patients and into another room, Sandbothe found himself surrounded by coworkers; his wife, Kris; and family members of Lois Brix, a patient he had cared for months before. They were there to surprise him with The DAISY Award, which honors nurses for their extraordinary skill and compassion.
“When he got there, somebody said they could hear him saying, ‘I still have things I need to do. I need to do this,’” said Deb Brix, Lois’ daughter-in-law. “He was still thinking about his patients, which didn’t surprise us a bit. That’s totally Eric.”
A Calming Presence
Lois’ journey to Jennie Edmundson began on the morning of March 12 when she had a serious heart attack known as a STEMI – an ST-elevated myocardial infarction. She was transported from her home in Walnut, Iowa, to Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic, then taken by helicopter to Jennie Edmundson.
After receiving a stent and being stabilized, Lois, 82, was moved to the Critical Care Unit and met Sandbothe – who’s worked in the unit for 20 years.
The Brix family was immediately struck by his calmness and compassion – qualities that would shine even brighter in the coming days after Lois suffered a stroke the next morning. As Lois’ care shifted to treating her new challenge that day, Sandbothe “was on a mission,” Deb said.
“He was doing things very expediently, but wasn’t acting like he was in a panic,” she said. “He’s so calm, and that kept all of us calm. He was great about concentrating methodically about what he was doing but yet being able to verbalize to us what he was doing and what was going on.”
As Lois recovered over the next four days, Sandbothe continued to impress her family. He’d have memorable conversations with Lois about her antique store in Walnut, sharing his own love for antiques. He visited the Critical Care Unit on his day off just to check on her progress. And after she was transferred to the Progressive Care Unit, he continued to stop by and check on her.
“He’s not just a great nurse,” Deb said. “He’s a great person, and so compassionate. In nursing school, you learn how to take care of people, but you can’t teach kindness. You either have that instilled in you or you don’t.”
Nominated for The DAISY Award
After leaving Jennie Edmundson, Lois spent three weeks in an acute rehabilitation facility, then three months in a skilled rehabilitation facility. She moved to an assisted care facility last month and has been thriving since.
While her family was happy to see her leave Jennie Edmundson, they felt a lasting impact from the care they experienced.
“We felt that everybody at Jennie was really on it and working diligently and expediently in order to help Lois have the best outcome,” Deb said.
And one person especially stood out.
In a DAISY nomination from the family, Deb’s daughter, Minden Huntrods, detailed the exceptional care that Sandbothe provided the entire family.
“There is nothing more comforting than knowing you’re leaving your family member with someone who is not only clinically exceptional but also of the highest integrity. … Without question, Eric would be my first choice to take care of anyone in my family or myself in a future time of need,” wrote Minden, who recently began a pharmacy residency at Indiana University Health.
A Team Effort
Sandbothe still has a little trouble believing he received The DAISY Award.
“I’ve been there 25 years, and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,” he said. “I don’t take it lightly, and I really have a lot of appreciation for what I do and this family.”
He added: “My whole thing is treating everybody like you would want to be treated. I sometimes think that every patient is my mother or somebody in my own family, so that’s what drives me when I care for somebody.”
That philosophy is shared by the entire Jennie Edmundson staff, he said. He calls them his work family. Together, they’ve been through ups and downs, and he gives them just as much credit for the care that Lois and her family received.
“I have some of the greatest coworkers in the world. They’re probably more deserving of this award than me," he said before poking a little fun at them.
“I’d let them take care of me any day of the week. And someday I might have to, because I’m quite a bit older than many of them.”