Patricia Thompson was stunned when representatives from Allegheny County showed up at her workplace to give her the county's first Exemplary Employee award.
The award was created to recognize exceptional achievements by a county employee or employee group.
Mrs. Thompson, of Washington, Pa., is a licensed practical nurse at Kane Regional Center in Scott. She was nominated in the category of innovation and creativity by the mother of one her patients and was given the award April 16.
In the nomination, the mother wrote that Mrs. Thompson took her daughter under her wing and worked with her for five months while she was at the center for rehabilitation. Her daughter is now independent and can handle her own needs, which the mother said is because of Mrs. Thompson.
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 to help prevent food-related problems.
"I've been a nurse for a long time and the art of teaching is not very often recognized," Mrs. Thompson said. "That's what pleases me the most. Not that I was honored, but that I was honored on an educational end."
Although the young woman often had to be prompted to comply with the 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 good because she would have cried at the patient's departure.
"I was very proud of her," she said of the young woman. "She really came a long way."
The two have spoken over the phone, and Mrs. Thompson said the young woman is doing well and has returned to work.
Mrs. Thompson said it was rewarding to be a part of the process that moved her patient toward independence.
"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 has been on the Kane staff for nearly six years. She previously served there as an agency nurse for seven years.
In addition to receiving the Exemplary Employee award, Mrs. Thompson was presented with a joint proclamation from the county executive and county council and was given a family pool pass for Allegheny County parks 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 at www.alleghenycounty.us/manager/award.aspx.neigh_south
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.