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Methodist Nurse Provides The Meaning of Care When a Widower Needed Her Most

From the Heart
Published: Aug. 21, 2019

 

She treats all of her patients the same – like family. But geriatric and emergency nurse Jessica Lock, BSN, RN-BC, is especially drawn to the elderly.

In high school, she worked for a nursing home doing laundry. She later became a certified nursing assistant and got the opportunity to provide home care for geriatric patients.

“That’s where I really got to love them and know them,” she said. “They lived in a different time. They have really cool stories to tell. I just feel a connection to them.”

 

Helping loved ones say goodbye

That connection was certainly present recently, when an elderly patient arrived at Methodist Hospital's Emergency Department (ED).

“Right from the get-go,” Lock said. “When I met her family, I was immediately drawn to them for whatever reason.”

It soon became clear she didn’t have much time.

Rather than moving the patient to another floor and risking that her condition might decline even faster, Lock kept her in the emergency room, allowing family – some from out of state – to say their goodbyes.

Lock stayed by the patient and her family for 10 hours. The most emotional farewell came from the patient’s husband of more than 30 years.

“I could feel the pain in his eyes,” Lock said. “Just his emotions – it was hard. They had no children. It was just the two of them. He was losing his person.”

 

An emotional request

The day after his wife passed away, the man called the ED with questions. Lock offered him comfort during their conversation, trying her best to help him navigate the “What now?” of his wife’s passing.

He called again days later, this time asking Lock to accompany him to his wife’s grave site.

“He said he didn’t want to go with family,” Lock said. “But he also didn’t want to go alone. He wanted to go with someone who would quietly stand there with him.”

Although a little taken aback, Lock immediately agreed.

“I’ve never been in that situation before, but my first thought was, ‘Of course I’ll do that.’”

On her day off, Lock fulfilled the man’s request. She described that moment at the cemetery as “healing for him.”

“I don’t think he had fully grieved,” she said. “I think he had just been going, going, going. So, for him to be able to sit there and quietly be with her – I think it brought a sense of relief. It was special.”

 

Jessica Lock's DAISY nomination letter

Recognizing a special kind of compassion

Moved to tears by her coworker’s compassion, fellow ED nurse Jessica Seymour, BSN, RN, nominated Lock for the DAISY Award.

“She needs to be recognized for going way above and beyond with not only the patient, but the family as well,” Seymour wrote in her nomination letter.

During Lock’s award ceremony, Seymour – who witnessed Lock’s initial phone conversation with the man – wiped her eyes, remembering Lock’s words of empathy.

Jessica Lock smiles for a photo with parents, Robin and Ed Lock

“It was good,” Seymour said as she rushed over to her friend with a hug. “You did really good.”

At the request of the patient’s husband, Lock has even returned to the cemetery a couple times. She’ll continue going as long as he continues asking. Because for Lock, being a nurse isn’t only about meeting a person’s medical needs.

“It’s taking the time to get to know somebody,” she said. “It’s laughing with them. It’s crying with them. It’s doing whatever you can for them even when they’re gone.”

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Jessica Gill

About the Author:

Jessica Gill, a Content Strategist for Methodist Health System, is a former television news anchor and journalist. She has a passion for story-telling and illustrating Methodist’s Meaning of Care.

See More Articles by Jessica Gill