In an ever-changing health care environment, the dedicated nurses at Davis Memorial Hospital play a critical role. They work with physicians to ensure the best care possible, and assist patients with their understanding of medical conditions and courses of treatment both in and out of the hospital environment.
The roles of nurses, and the options for those considering a career in nursing, have never been greater. Degrees range from associates to masters. Shifts vary from steady days to overnights. Patients may be pediatrics, geriatrics, or anywhere in between. The common bond to all of it is a desire to help people who represent not only patients, but friends and fellow community members.
"We're proud to have such a diverse, dedicated group of health care professionals," said Diana Patella, director of Nursing and Inpatient Services for Davis Memorial Hospital. "Our staff members deserve to be recognized not only during National Nurses Week, but for their tireless efforts all year long."
As a tribute to the work of all Davis Memorial Hospital nurses, here are brief personal stories from a selected group.
Haddix is in his 16th year with Davis Health System. He went to nursing school after serving as a medic during three years in the United States Army and seven years in the National Guard. He attended Fairmont State University following active duty in Operation Desert Storm.
Haddix oversees the nursing staff in the Progressive Care Unit and formerly worked in the ICU. His current position allows him to work mostly day shifts during the week, which is perfect for the father of boys active in multiple sports.
"As soon as I get off work I run home, and then we go to practice," Haddix said. "It's great to spend a lot of time with my kids."
On the job, Haddix enjoys being able to see many of the same people year after year.
"I had a patient 10 or 12 years ago who didn't think she was going to make it," he said. "She was in recently, and she still thanks me for what I did for her. That makes it all worthwhile."
After graduating with a medical assistant degree, Davis started work in the Davis Memorial Hospital laboratory. Although she enjoyed that job, she knew she wanted to take the next step and eventually started nursing school at Davis & Elkins College.
"I worked full-time in the lab the whole time I was going to nursing school," the 32-year-old mother of two said. "I worked night shifts, 12- and 16-hour days. It was hard, but I did it, and I'm really glad I did."
Since graduating in May 2012, she has worked in the intensive care and surgical care units and found nursing to be everything she hoped it would be. So much so that she's already planning to head back to school.
"In the fall I'm going to start the BSN program," Davis said, adding she wants to inspire others to enter the field as well. "I did it, and I think others should do it, too."
Barger started her career at what was then Memorial General Hospital in 1983, and she's still going strong with Davis Health System.
"I'm having a hard time giving it up," Barger said. "I always wanted to be a nurse, all my life. My mom was a nurse, too, and I was about 3 years old when I decided that's what I wanted to be. I'm so blessed."
Although she technically retired two years ago, Barger still works two days a week. She spent 17 years in the medical surgical unit and has been based in day surgery since 1999.
"We have enough help that you can really take time with people," she said. "We really focus on care.
"When I feel like I'm no longer an asset to the team, I'll go out to pasture," Barger said with a laugh. "The people I work with for the most part are family to me. You don't run off from your family."
Immediately after graduating from Tucker County High School in 2004, Asbury headed to nursing school at Fairmont State University. Immediately after graduating in 2007, she headed to Davis Memorial Hospital.
In both cases, the quick decisions have worked well for the long term.
"Everybody is very friendly and eager to help," said Asbury, who works in day surgery and recovery. "It's a team effort every day to do our best for the patients."
Asbury said she enjoys working in a smaller community, where there are many familiar faces she sees not only at the hospital but around the community as they get back to health.
Now she is getting her BSN to add additional skills, with an eye toward eventually becoming a nurse practitioner. She said her supervisors have been incredibly supportive while she went to school and worked at the same time, making adjustments in her schedule when necessary.
"I don't think you could find a better place to work," she said. "I love what I do."
Houser is in her 29th year as an LPN at Davis Memorial Hospital, and she has enjoyed the entire experience.
"I've always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little girl," Houser said. "I really like being able to take care of patients."
At this point, Houser works in North II, which has a mix of geriatric, pediatric and surgery patients.
"It's an interesting mix," she said, noting that keeps things fresh even after nearly three decades on the job.
"I enjoy spending time with the people I work with and the patients," Houser said. "I've made lots of friends, both patients and co-workers. I'll do it as long as I can."
When she looks back now, the past dozen years have flown by for Haddix. But she certainly accomplished a lot along the way.
Haddix started as a unit secretary and technician in the emergency department, and knew health care was the career for her. She was so sure that she would work 12-hour weekend shifts to keep her full-time job while attending nursing school at Davis & Elkins College.
"Looking back now it seems really hard, but that's what I had to do," said Haddix, now a clinical manager who oversees the nurses associated with physician practices at Davis Memorial Hospital. "I've definitely been challenged, and I'm very gratified by every opportunity I've had. I can't imagine working anywhere else."
Now Haddix is working on her bachelor's degree and has thought about going on to become a nurse practitioner.
Although she has been a nurse for more than a quarter-century, England is breaking new ground at Davis Memorial Hospital as the first nurse practitioner. She works with the hospitalists, helps coordinate with discharge planners, follows up with patients after they leave the hospital and much, much more.
"It's kind of being developed as it goes," England said of her role. "We provide more holistic care for the patient, do more education. I really enjoy it because I see patients of all ages, from pediatrics to geriatrics."
As the "care coordination" approach grows in popularity, nurse practitioners take on larger roles. They can help the process by seeing patients directly and working with individuals or their caretakers to address concerns about chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure or diabetes.
"Health care is going more toward a preventive angle," England noted. "We need to do more patient education and encourage healthy habits. I would encourage any young nurse to get some experience then start on additional education. I know I'll look back and not have any regrets because I did this."