'She Put Me First': Methodist Fremont Health Nurse Honored for Treating Patient Like Family
Published: April 3, 2020
For Jill Broekemeier, RN, the death of her grandmother was a turning point in her life. She quit her job as a college softball coach, sold her house in Connecticut and moved back to Nebraska. Then she enrolled in nursing school – a second career to honor those who helped her grandmother during her illness.
“My grandmother is the reason I became a nurse,” she said. “She sits on my shoulder and guides me where to go. So I try to treat every patient and family as if that were my grandma in the bed.”
That dedicated and personal treatment is why Broekemeier recently received The DAISY Award at Methodist Fremont Health. Broekemeier was nominated by Kathleen Misfeldt, 51, of Blair and her 22-year-old twin daughters – Maddy and Avery – for caring for Kathleen as if she were family during a terrifying time in her life.
“Kathleen, you have to breathe”
Kathleen’s difficulties began in December 2019 in the weeks following a surgery. She was in extreme pain, and a trip to the emergency department confirmed she had an infection. After surgery at Methodist Fremont Health to get rid of the infection, she went home. She returned two days later, again in extreme pain. She needed a second surgery, and it was on this day that she and her daughters met Broekemeier.
The bond was instant. Broekemeier has 5-year-old twins, along with a 3-year-old, and was excited to walk into Kathleen’s room and see her grown twin daughters.
“I asked a lot of questions about how she raised them because, you know, 5-year-olds … you feel like you’re losing the battle,” she said laughing.
Broekemeier told Kathleen her goals for her care: communication and pain control. Kathleen had to be put under anesthesia twice – first for an MRI and then for surgery. Her pain wouldn’t let up no matter how much medication she was given.
“At one point, we were getting into respiratory complications because the more pain medications you have onboard, it just slows everything down,” Broekemeier said.
Kathleen doesn’t remember a lot from that excruciating day. But she clearly remembers Broekemeier’s stern voice: “Kathleen, you have to breathe.”
Maddy recalls Broekemeier never letting go of her mother’s hand – staying by her bed and even typing one-handed on the computer.
Once Kathleen’s breathing returned to normal, Broekemeier’s attention turned toward Maddy and Avery.
“She knew that we were really freaked out,” Maddy said. “She came over and gave both my sister and me a big hug. My sister was crying, and she wiped the tears away from her face and told us that it was going to be OK. That she was going to do everything that she could to help our mom get better.”
According to Kathleen, what made Broekemeier so special was “her willingness to make us feel like we were the only people she had to take care of that day. Her ability to not only take care of me, the patient, but also my daughters, who were scared to death. They needed reassurance that their mom was going to be OK.”
“Where I’m supposed to be”
Both Kathleen and Maddy were present when Broekemeier was surprised with The DAISY Award.
In her nomination, Kathleen wrote: “Jill was by far the most exceptional nurse! She took care of me on my hardest days. She helped to control my pain and worked hard to make sure I was comfortable. Jill didn’t only take care of me, she took care of my family. She was so nice and friendly, and I always enjoyed talking to her when she was in my room. Jill also explained everything to me so that I understood what was going on and felt more at ease. Jill needs a cape because she is a super nurse.”
Maddy wrote in the nomination: “I cannot put into words what it meant to truly trust wholeheartedly in the care our mom was getting when Jill was on call. WE LOVE her and her ability to put a smile on even our pain-ridden mom. It’s incredibly evident that Jill loves her job and is the best nurse we’ve ever had. The way she can talk to you and make you feel truly heard is a skill that cannot be taught. Jill exemplifies the image of a health care professional in every aspect – ability, passion, empathy, kindness, patience, compassion and drive for excellence. Those kiddos of hers are lucky to have a mom like her. Keep changing lives. You certainly changed ours.”
“I just never in a million years thought that somebody would say those beautiful words about me,” Broekemeier said after hearing Kathleen’s and Maddy’s words.
It was an emotional reunion for nurse, patient and daughter.
“It just brought me to tears,” Kathleen said. “And the first thing Jill said to me was, ‘I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing.’ She’s taken care of so many other patients since then, but yet she’s still been thinking about me.”
What stood out to Kathleen the most at the award presentation was a small moment that spoke volumes about Broekemeier. Kathleen recalls that as Broekemeier’s family moved into the conference room to celebrate, she said: “You guys enjoy those cinnamon rolls. I’ve got to get back to my patients.”
Kathleen said: “I started crying thinking, ‘Here you’ve just gotten this huge award, and your family’s here to celebrate it with you, but you’re putting your patients first.’ And I know that day she put me first.”
After going where her grandmother guided her and taking a leap into a new career, being recognized with The DAISY Award made Broekemeier feel like she was in the right place.
“I feel very blessed to be where I’m at in my career and working for Methodist Fremont Health,” she said. “I love where I work. It made me feel like I was where I’m supposed to be.”