Nurse gives Newton County man help, hope

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Her act of kindness “gave me an adjusted opinion of the world”

Eighty-two-year-old James “Rhyan” Lloyd went into an Atlanta area hospital for eye surgery and came out with a different view of the world.

Lloyd was at Piedmont Newton Hospital in Covington on June 14 for outpatient cataract surgery and shared with his nurse, Nicki Pollard, that he was worried about his dog, 6-year-old Trinity.

The lone window air-conditioning unit in his house wasn’t working, and Trinity had panted all the previous night – it was so hot, Lloyd told Pollard.

Temperatures were hovering in the high 90s in Covington that week, and Pollard was worried.

“The biggest thing for a nurse is to always go with your gut,” she said. “And my gut was saying I needed to get him some help.”

With approval from her nurse manager, Pollard reached out to her generous colleagues in the hospital’s surgical services department and asked if they would pitch in on a new window unit for Lloyd’s home.

“Regardless of whether I got the money or not, I was going to get him some air one way or another,” she said.

Two days later, Pollard had collected enough money, and she and her husband Andrew were at Lloyd’s home in Newton County, installing a new window air-conditioning unit in his bedroom.

Lloyd said he was overwhelmed.

“It gave me an adjusted opinion of the world,” he said.

Lloyd said he had fallen into the habit of comparing the world today with the one he knew in the 1940s and 1950s. Between those memories and all the bad news that’s on television, “it just seemed like the world’s gotten meaner,” he said.

“I was pretty well convinced of that,” Lloyd said. “And then this happens. It’s probably the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

The lone window unit in his home had been broken for about two months, and he had resisted going to the expense of replacing it.

“I was without any kind of air-condition ‘til I was in my middle 20s or 30s, and I thought I could do it again,” Lloyd said. “But I was waking up in pools of sweat.”

Pollard said Lloyd “kind of got real teary-eyed” when she voiced concern about him going home alone to a house without air-conditioning.

“He told me: ‘The Lord always takes care of me’,” Pollard said, noting that Lloyd was talking about going to a big-box store and buying a fan at the time.

Credit: Special to the AJC from Piedmont Newton Hospital

Credit: Special to the AJC from Piedmont Newton Hospital

After the Pollards installed the new air conditioner, Lloyd pulled out his checkbook. He wanted to give his “sweet, sweet nurse” money to put toward helping someone else. She refused.

“I told him there will come a time when you can help somebody,” Nicki Pollard, an 11-year nursing veteran, said. “But that was just so sweet of him.”

She said she was only too happy to help.

“It’s not often that we get to help patients outside of the hospital,” Pollard said.

Lloyd grew up in Tennessee and has spent more than half of his life in Georgia. He was a submariner for the Navy and later in radar maintenance and operation with the Air Force during the Cold War of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to have a long career in telecommunications and then trucking, delivering freight in 49 of the 50 states.

He only retired earlier this year, he said.

Lloyd happily reports that his new air-conditioner is working well and doing a great job of keeping both he and Tiffany comfy.

“I don’t run it near the maximum limits,” he said. “I run it just as low as I can get away with, hoping to extend the life on it.”