Lisa Treadwell’s mantra is “nurse from the heart,” believing the best care often has nothing to do with stethoscopes or medicine vials.
The night shift charge nurse at Piedmont Eastside Medical Center in Snellville said she had her “ah-ha” nursing moment 25 years ago while working at another facility.
She was at the end of a busy shift when a patient’s wife asked her to find a cot. The couple had been married for 50 years and had never slept apart, and the wife wanted to sleep beside her husband, who had cancer. Treadwell searched all over the hospital and finally found a cot for them. They never forgot her kindness.
“She thought I was the grandest thing, and it was over a cot,” Treadwell remembered. “I thought to myself, nursing is so important as far as giving medications and starting IVs and all that we do, but it’s really a work of the heart. It’s really what that patient needs. It may be a cup of coffee, a cot or a smoothie.
“You see people at their most difficult moments,” she added. “The bottom line is trying to figure out what they need and giving it to them.”
That’s why Treadwell was presented with an AJC Nurse Excellence Award on Friday afternoon, after being nominated last fall. More than 800 nurses were nominated, with 10 honored.
Chief nursing officer Tracey Smithson said Treadwell leads by example as she teaches new nurses at Eastside the importance of showing kindness and nurturing acts of love.
“She tells young nurses that exceptional skills executed without care and compassion sorely miss the mark. She teaches others the importance of combining skills with a heart to connect with patients on a whole new level,” said Smithson who nominated Treadwell for the award.
In July, Treadwell connected with one such patient and his family, having a profound affect on them.
The 49-year-old patient had aggressive cancer and declined quickly, consuming his wife of 23 years and their three children with making difficult end-of-life decisions.
“Lisa made an extra special connection with the patient and his family, and worked with them to offer compassion, support and love,” Smithson said.
Treadwell said she formed a bond with the entire family. When the patient’s appetite declined, she brought her blender from home and made him a peach milkshake. When his back hurt, Treadwell created a unique pillow out of foam.
“When you take care of patients, it’s such a humbling experience because you think, this could be me, this could be my mother, my daddy. What would I want someone to do for me?” Treadwell said.
She was still taking care of the patient the night he died, and her kindness was mentioned at his funeral. Even now, Treadwell and the family keep in touch.
“Lisa’s kindness and nurturing acts of love gave this patient comfort in his final days, but also served as comfort for his family, who witnessed her care and compassion for their loved one,” Smithson said.
“Lisa is an asset to our hospital. She serves from the heart with love, skill and compassion. Her commitment to the profession is immeasurable, and her patients are all the better for it.”
To read about and watch videos of all honorees, please visit www.ajc.com/pulse/#celebratingnurses.
Growing up in Monroe, Treadwell always wanted to be a nurse. She lives there today with her husband and has two adult children and two grandchildren.
She has a master’s degree in nursing and health administration and has taught nursing classes for more than a decade in Florida and Georgia.
Her first job was at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and said she still loves the fast pace in a trauma center.
READ MORE ABOUT THE OTHER AWARD RECIPIENTS
Nurse leader Millie Sattler, Emory Healthcare
Terri Holden, Piedmont Cartersville Medical Center
Rita Ford, Northside Hospital Gwinnett
Brandie Christian, Northside Hospital Gwinnett
Kathleen LePain, Piedmont Athens Regional 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
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