In mid-April, CoxHealth employees were recognized for their years of service to our organization. More than 1,100 employees and their guests gathered at University Plaza Convention Center to celebrate 12,500 combined years of service among employees receiving service pins. Meet the second of our five Prestigious Partners winners below:
When Jessica Green joined CoxHealth’s case management department two years ago, she was intrigued by the work that takes place in a hospital. There was only one area she was nervous about: working with terminally ill patients. As luck would have it, one of her first assignments was working with cancer patients on 900 West.
During one of Jessica’s shifts, a woman had arrived at the ER with severe pain and she was admitted to the ninth floor. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her body. Her physician, Dr. Albert Bonebrake, said it was the worst case he had ever seen.
Jessica was tasked with placing the woman in a skilled nursing facility, which would be difficult, since the woman was young, only 25.
She soon noticed that the patient didn’t have many visitors. In talking with her, Jessica learned that the young woman had not had an easy family life. The patient had spent recent months caring for her mother, who was dying of cancer. She was her mom's nurse until her passing and she had also lived with her grandparents and had been their nurse when they died. The young woman had been taking care of other people and neglected her own health.
Jessica says: “She was one of the kindest people. She was so sweet, she never complained about anything, not even about her pain.”
Doctors soon decided that she was too ill for skilled nursing – she would spend her remaining days on the unit at Cox South.
For Jessica, who had also been struggling with her uncle’s battle with cancer, the young woman’s case became personal.
Jessica says: “She rarely had visitors, so I would go in her room -- I would take my work and go to sit with her. She didn't want to be alone. She would panic when she woke up alone.”
Occasionally, the woman would express surprise that Jessica was still there. Jessica asked if she wanted her to leave, but the patient always said “no.” When the patient’s dad or her friend would come, Jessica would leave and let them be with her, but then she would come back.
Jessica says: “We would sit and would talk about life. She loved pink lemonade and she loved scotty dogs. She had an older dog of her own and we were able to bring her dog into the hospital to be with her. That was special to her.”
Jessica brought her patient a robe and comfortable slippers and she tracked down packets of pink lemonade. As she sat with the young woman, Jessica started to believe she had been placed on the floor for a reason.
Jessica says: “I used to pray that I would never be called to sit with someone in a situation like this -- where I would be there to witness someone’s last breath. What do you say to people who are dying? You can't say, ‘I understand.’ That was a struggle. But they don't want you to say anything, they just want you to be there. That's what I learned. It was something she needed and it gives you a different perspective on life.”
Only a week after she first arrived at the ER, the young woman passed away.
Jessica says she had no idea what her Partners nomination was for when heard about it.
She says: “I didn't save someone's life, I just did what I would have wanted someone to do for me. That's the perspective you take every time you enter someone's room. I'm a firm believer that no one should die alone. If I was lying in that bed, I would want someone to be there for me. To always let me know what's happening. To be there to hold my hand, wipe my brow and find me some pink lemonade.”