Surprised, stunned and happy are the words Patricia Thompson of Washington, Pa., said described her feelings when representatives from Allegheny County, including County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, surprised her at work April 16 with their first Exemplary Employee award.
The award was created to recognize exceptional achievements by a county employee or employee group.
Mrs. Thompson, a licensed practical nurse at Kane Regional Center in Scott, was nominated in the category of innovation and creativity by the mother of a patient who benefitted from her care and support.
In nominating her, the mother wrote that Mrs. Thompson took her daughter under her wing and worked with her during the five months she was there for rehabilitation. Her daughter is now independent and can handle her own needs, which the mother said is all thanks to Mrs. Thompson.
"I've been a nurse for a long time and the art of teaching is not very often recognized," she said. "That's what pleases me the most. Not that I was honored, but that I was honored on an educational end."
Mrs. Thompson spent a few hours every day educating the mentally challenged young woman on the proper care, use and cleaning of her colostomy bag and offered guidance about eating habits to help prevent food-related problems.
Although the young woman proved to be challenging at times and often had to be prompted to comply with her directions, Mrs. Thompson said she developed a bond with her. On the day the patient was discharged from the facility, Mrs. Thompson was not at work but said that was a good thing, because she would have "cried her eyeballs out. I was very proud of her. She really came a long way."
Mrs. Thompson said it was rewarding to be a part of the process that moved her patient toward independence. The two have spoken twice over the phone and Mrs. Thompson said the young woman is doing well, is happy and has returned to work.
"I feel good about what I did for her. I feel good about what I do every day," she said. "I like what I do and I especially like the teaching end of it, so when I get a patient who can take advantage of some of my expertise or a family member who I can help through the process of bringing a loved one in here, I feel that's more of my job than giving them their pills."
Mrs. Thompson will have been on Kane staff for six years as of September, after having previously served there as an agency nurse for seven years.
In addition to receiving the Exemplary Employee award, Mrs. Thompson also was presented with a joint proclamation from the county executive and County Council and was given an Allegheny County Parks family pool pass for this year.
The Exemplary Employee Award will be presented periodically throughout the year in recognition of exceptional achievements by a county employee or employee group. Nominations can be submitted in writing or online, www.alleghenycounty.us/manager/award.aspx.neigh_west
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.