Last summer, on a hot and humid July afternoon, Michelle Andrews was on a telephonic outreach call with one of her patients when she noticed that the 81-year-old was having a hard time breathing. When inquiring further, she discovered that Juanita Terry’s air conditioner was not working. Knowing that the heat could impair her patient’s health, Andrews offered to help.
“She has asthma, and I knew she could end up in the hospital,” said Andrews, a population health nurse with Piedmont Healthcare.
Multiple calls to aging agencies and appliance service dealers on a Friday afternoon seemed to be going nowhere, but Andrews refused to give up. Co-worker Vanessa Bonner pitched in to help, and they finally got through to a local Wal-Mart manager who offered to donate a window unit.
The next morning, Andrews, Bonner and their supervisor Angie Rutledge picked up the air conditioner and delivered it to Ms. Terry.
“It was so sweet when I got to meet her in person. She was so thankful,” Andrews said. “Since then we just kind of developed this relationship. She knows that she can call me if she needs something.”
Another time, Andrews bought groceries and had them delivered to Ms. Terry when she was sick and couldn’t get to the store. “I think it makes such a difference when patients know that someone generally cares,” Andrews said.
Andrews persistence to help Ms. Terry is one example of how she “always goes above and beyond for her patients,” former co-worker Robin Hanks wrote in her Celebrating Nurses nomination letter.
A nurse for 18 years, Andrews has worked in numerous types of nursing jobs, from bedside to labs. In this position, she follows patients who have complex care needs and helps them overcome barriers to their healthcare once they’re discharged from the hospital. It might mean providing self-care education or arranging transportation to a doctor’s appointment.
“Once they leave the hospital it can be overwhelming. Most of them face multiple barriers that you have to work through before you get to the healthcare needs at hand,” Andrews said.
“For me, I believe it blesses me just as much, if not more, when I’m able to help someone or make a difference for them. I think nurses do amazing things on a daily basis and it’s an honor to be able to help people and make a difference for them.”