Inspiring Stories

Emergency Department Nurse Recognized for Helping Family Honor Ailing Father, Husband

Published: Aug. 25, 2022

After a heartfelt letter arrived at the Methodist Women’s Hospital Emergency Department (ED), team lead Jody Morris, MSN, RN-BC, CEN, knew she had to find a way to recognize one of her team members.

“People just don’t take the time to do those kinds of things anymore,” Morris said. “So I know when they do, it’s pretty meaningful.”

The letter came from Sabrina DeWispelare after she received a sympathy card in the mail from emergency support nurse Jill Ferguson, MSN, RN, following the death of Sabrina’s husband.

“I wrote a letter back because I was so moved, and I wanted her to know that she made a difference,” Sabrina said.

And because of Sabrina’s letter, Morris nominated Ferguson for The DAISY Award, which honors nurses for their extraordinary skill and compassion.


Honoring Wishes

When Dean DeWispelare received a diagnosis of glioblastoma – an aggressive type of brain cancer – his family knew their time with him was limited. But after seizures came on unexpectedly earlier this year, the end of Dean’s life managed to come quicker than his family anticipated.

After arriving at the Women’s Hospital ED for one of those seizures, Sabrina mentioned that her family wanted to honor Dean’s wishes by allowing him to spend his final moments at home. It was a Sunday, which made things challenging, but Ferguson used her resources to find a way to meet the DeWispelares’ desires.

“Not only her, but the whole team,” Sabrina said. “She instrumented it going forward, but it was a team effort, and I could tell her heart. She could tell that all we wanted was to honor him, and how much that meant to us.”

Ferguson coordinated a plan for Dean to receive hospice care in the comfort of his home, which allowed his wife and four children the chance to spend precious moments together during his final days.

“She granted that wish for us for the rest of our lives,” Sabrina said. “And if we couldn’t have brought him home on hospice, my life and our lives would be completely different.”


“Right Place, Right Time”

Ferguson worked full time at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital from 2002 until the fall of 2021. She started as a staff nurse, worked for a short time with informatics and transitioned into the roles of ED manager and trauma coordinator.

She also worked on call, or PRN, at Women’s Hospital since it opened in 2010. And although she now has a different full-time job, Ferguson continues working as needed at Women’s.

“I just really like taking care of patients, and even though I did go into management, I still had a desire to not lose my connection with being able to take care of patients and their families,” she said.

Morris, who has known Ferguson for about five years and worked with her for the past two, believes that the seasoned nurse is a valued asset to their team.

“We’re proud to have her in our department, and we’re lucky that she works with us,” Morris said. “She’s an incredible resource on the unit.”

Morris is glad that the DeWispelare family had the privilege of visiting the hospital during one of Ferguson’s shifts.

“She goes out of her way for every patient, so it was right place, right time for Jill that day to be in that patient’s life so that she could make a difference to that family.”

“I always tell people that it could be that one moment, that one person, that one glimpse that changes the rest of your life,” Sabrina said. “And she did that for us. And I’m forever grateful. ”


Deserved Recognition

Ferguson’s husband and two sons joined ED staff members during a surprise ceremony at Women’s Hospital last month.

“This family made a promise, and I was just trying to help make sure that it was followed through,” Ferguson said. “So I was really shocked because I just thought I was doing something that you should do.”

Sabrina is glad that Ferguson received recognition.

“A lot of people don’t realize that a little thing can make such a profound difference in someone’s life. I’m a big believer of that,” Sabrina said.

According to Morris, this is just one example of how Ferguson excels at her job.

“She always goes above and beyond,” Morris said. “It just takes that one person to recognize it, but this is not abnormal for her. Jill’s always the one that you would want taking care of your loved ones.”

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About the Author

Anthony Robinson, a content strategist for Methodist Health System, joined the marketing team after spending over five years as a college athletics public relations professional. He enjoys being able to use his writing ability to tell compelling stories that embody The Meaning of Care

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