Terri Holden is the type of nurse who goes above and beyond for her patients in ways they don’t expect.
As the night charge nurse for her unit at Piedmont Cartersville Medical Center, Holden often encounters homeless men who come in unkempt and in need of clothes. Holden gives them a shave and a haircut. She maintains a clothes closet so they’ll have something clean to wear when discharged.
The veteran nurse of 23 years said these little extras make her patients feel special and happy, which can help them heal faster.
That’s why Holden was presented with an AJC Nurse Excellence Award on Friday afternoon, after being nominated last fall. More than 800 nurses were nominated, with 10 receiving nursing awards.
“If you feel good about yourself, and you know someone is trying to help you, I think it helps you to get well quicker and gives you a purpose to get well,” said Holden, who has been at Piedmont Cartersville since 2017.
The 66-year-old entered the nursing profession as a second career. While her children were growing up, Holden took community college classes at night, one at a time, then finished her degree at the University of West Georgia and returned later for her master’s.
“It took me 10 years, but I got my nursing degree, and it was meant to be,” she said. “I love giving, and I love taking care of people.”
Nurse manager Cary Parfitt nominated Holden for a 2023 Celebrating Nurses award.
“She exemplifies the professional nurse through her actions and the way she cares for patients,” he said, “and particularly making special connections with patients who have an extended length of stay and don’t have family active in their care or come to visit.”
For these patients, Parfitt said Holden would often bring them to the nurses station to socialize, watch TV or just sit with other people. Once, she facilitated a meeting between two older women who became friends during their extended stay in the hospital.
“Because of Terri, they were able to develop a friendship that results in them watching TV together, playing games together, and walking the unit together to stay in shape,” Parfitt said.
The charge nurse also is known for throwing celebrations for patients for their birthdays and anniversaries and giving them a going away party when discharged. Holden decorates for all the holidays and once gave an elaborate New Year’s Eve party for a patient who was disappointed to be in the hospital that night.
Another time, Holden was able to help a younger man who had a history of traumatic brain injury. She learned they had something in common; they both loved to run. So Holden arranged for a safe route on the hospital grounds, and she and other team members took the patient out for a run.
“I had the opportunity to see them on this run, and you could see the joy that this patient had because of Terri’s small and extraordinarily thoughtful actions,” Parfitt said.
Holden said the patient was thrilled as she ran with him, holding his hand.
“Patients expect you to give their medications on time. They expect you to keep them clean and bathed and to feed them. They expect all these things,” she said. “But when you do the little extra things that make them feel cared for, that’s what makes the difference.
“This is a great profession,” she added. “It’s not a job; it’s a calling. And I’m right where I belong.”
To read about and watch videos of all honorees, please visit www.ajc.com/pulse/#celebratingnurses.
Holden and her husband live in Calhoun and have two adult daughters. One is an eighth-grade math teacher, and the other is a nurse practitioner at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. A granddaughter is in her first year of nursing school.
Holden is an avid runner and can often be seen running outside the hospital after her shift.
Her first nursing job was at Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton 2001-2017.
READ MORE ABOUT THE OTHER AWARD RECIPIENTS
Nurse leader Millie Sattler, Emory Healthcare
Rita Ford, Northside Hospital Gwinnett
Brandie Christian, Northside Hospital Gwinnett
Kathleen LePain, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center
Lisa Treadwell, Piedmont Eastside Medical Center
Stacey Howard, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston
Kellie Mitchell, Wellstar Paulding Hospital
Mark Lee, Emory University Hospital
Janet Rollor, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital
Anna Paller, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital