When a patient confided in Penny Allen that she was afraid to go home because of her boyfriend’s abusive behavior, the veteran nurse at Piedmont Healthcare Columbus put a plan in place to keep the woman and her family safe.
Allen, a nurse of 21 years, said because of her own past abusive relationship she felt a connection to this patient, and her daughter and young grandson who were visiting in the hospital. The boyfriend was also visiting.
“I could tell she wanted help, but she really couldn’t ask for it with the perpetrator standing there with her,” Allen said. “It’s not as easy to step away as people think it is. The abuse warps your mind; it breaks you down.”
During the discharging process, Allen had the boyfriend distracted so the woman and her family could meet privately with hospital caseworkers.
They were taken into a secured conference room where Allen bought them food and drinks, shared her personal story of abuse and encouraged them to get help.
Co-worker Alexis Green said Allen had tears in her eyes as she told the staff that she knew what this patient was going through.
“She said, ‘it’s hard and I’m going to make sure I do all I can to help her get to a safe environment,’” Green wrote in her nomination for Celebrating Nurses.
Allen spent much of the afternoon calling multiple battered women shelters but none could accommodate the family. When it was decided they could stay with out-of-town family, Allen and other staffers chipped in the money to pay for transportation.
They escorted the family out of the hospital through a back elevator and into a waiting taxi cab.
After loading the vehicle, Green said she saw Allen hold the woman’s face, look into her eyes and tell her how proud she was of her for doing the right thing.
“I knew I could go home and sleep that night knowing they were going to be okay and they could be safe,” Allen said.