by James Coburn – staff writer
A lot of the encouragement Jessie Alcorn gets as a licensed practical nurse is watching her patients’ progress. Alcorn serves in the Swing Bed program at Mercy Hospital Logan County.
“The biggest thing keeping me here is watching the people that do succeed, knowing that we had a part in that,” Alcorn said.
A patient may be recovering from COVID, or a broken hip has made them unable to walk to the restroom. Their illness or injury has left them very weak and unable to care for themselves. As a Medicare provider, a Swing Bed unit provides a therapeutic environment for patients in short-term rehabilitation. (story continues below)
Patients come to Mercy Logan for physical, speech or occupational therapies. Mercy nurses and therapists help their patients regain their strength. But some people may need to go to a nursing home when being discharged from care. Alcorn encourages patients to improve by first taking small steps leading to recovery.
“We try to teach them little ways they can live at home,” she said.
Becoming a nurse was a blessing delivered by God, Alcorn continued. She was working as a cashier in retail when her sister and aunt invited her to take a nurse entrance exam with them.
“I got in, they didn’t, and I just kind of fell into it,” she said. “I absolutely love it and I’m always learning something new. It keeps my brain working.”
In 2000 she trained to be a licensed practical nurse at Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater. She is back in school to become a registered nurse at Oklahoma City Community College. In the spring, Alcorn has plans to attend Southwestern Oklahoma State University to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She was hired to serve at the Guthrie hospital three years ago.
Alcorn has previously worked as a medical surgical nurse at Hillcrest Cushing Hospital where she also served in the psychiatric unit. She worked at OSU in student services, clinical work in obstetrics; she ran a clinic for sexual health counseling and then managed a triage clinic for a homeless shelter before coming to Mercy Hospital Logan County. She was received by coworkers who have a heart for what they do.
“They’re not here just for money. They’re here because they love people, and they want to make a difference. My coworkers — I have to say are the best — all of them.”
She learns from her coworkers at the bedside. Mercy nurses respond to patient care and one another with the most compassion she has ever seen, Alcorn said. They are attentive to the needs of humanity. These are the types of people she encourages to become nurses.
The long-standing nationwide nursing shortage exacerbated by COVID remains a huge problem for society and the nursing industry, she said. Not everyone has the stamina.
“What I love, somebody else might hate. If we can find those people that have the calling for it or have a heart for it — I believe those are the ones that are going to stay,” she said.
Nursing school graduates can expect to work with every type of person from mentally challenged, to dementia and someone who is highly alert, she continued. To handle body fluids is a normal procedure. All of it keeps nurses on their toes with responsibility, she said.
“We should learn to trust that stomach — like our instincts. When your stomach is telling you there’s something wrong, you need to learn how to verbalize that,” Alcorn said.
Mercy nurses are continuously getting education.
“Whenever you think your continuing education is done, they give you 20 more (learning opportunities), which is great because it keeps everybody informed,” Alcorn said. “Everything has changed from 20 years ago. I see brand new nurses coming in and they’re doing something differently. It’s not that I was doing it wrong. It’s that they found a better way.”
Mercy also pays nurses’ tuition to go back to school. Mercy will match the percentage of student loan percentage payments made by nurses, she said.
“They’re very, very big on education, wanting to make sure we have everything done,” she said. “If we see something here on the floor that is a concern that not everybody is educated on, they’ll take us around and do an in-service.”
Mercy is a welcoming experience for nurses, she said. Travel nurses have told her that the Mercy Logan environment is their best working environment and they’re not afraid to ask questions.
Alcorn recalls coming to work on her first day at Mercy Logan. It gave her a wonderful feeling when a nurse waved at her and said, “Hey, we’ve been waiting for you.”
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