Teri Voss, Neuro-Intensive Care Nurse from Rockford, Ill., is one lucky mom. As a Mother’s Day gift, her son wrote a lovely letter nominating Voss for the 2010 Dickies American Worker of the Year. His letter caught the judges’ attention and Voss has become the first nurse ever to win the award.
Read the touching nomination letter below:
“The low whoop, whoop, whoop of the helicopter as it flies over head is a call to action for my Mom and her coworkers. This call is heard by many, but answered by few. Someone is in dire need of the caring, training, and expertise that my Mom has acquired over many years of nursing. For the hard work to pay off, many professionals will have to pull together to save this fragile life that hangs in the balance. Tonight, it is a young man with his whole life ahead of him, if they are successful.
It is imperative that they work quickly and accurately. He is assessed and treated according to what they find. He is sedated, orally intubated, and placed on the ventilator. Intravenous access is established and life-saving medications are initiated. He is placed on highly technical equipment that will monitor his every breath, heartbeat, and temperature. All this is done simultaneously, smoothly; nothing is missed.
Every inch of his body is thoroughly inspected for the smallest of insults to his perfectly developed young body. He is sent to the CT scanner where his whole body is internally examined. The internal injuries are noted by the physician and orders are given. His is prepared for emergency surgery. Abrasions are cleansed and treated, lacerations are sewn shut, antibiotics are administered and this young man is “cleaned up” to make him presentable for his family. A fresh sheet is placed over his lower body to cover his mangled limbs. This may be the last time a family sees their loved one alive.
You see, my Mom does not take care of one patient; she takes care of many. The family is also her patient. She welcomes them into the strange land of the ICU. She expertly and calmly explains all the lights, beeps, blips, wires, tubing, machines and all the humming and whooshing of the ventilator. She is able to interpret the strange medical language into one that the family is able to understand. She explains the injuries sustained by the loved one and reminds them of what the surgeon plans to do. She answers their questions while running her fingers through his soft blood-soaked curly hair. She assures them that it is okay to touch him and talk to him. His heart rate rapidly increases and she reassures them it is because he can hear them. He is then whisked away to surgery where the internal bleeding will be stopped.Â A long and sometimes rocky road of rehabilitation is ahead for this patient. That road has been paved with my Mom practicing the art and science of nursing.
A day of hard work can mean a life is saved or that another’s way of life is changed forever. Mom does what she does so that we all might live to see another day. She makes a difference in the lives of many and sometimes does not even realize all those she has touched.
My Mom exemplifies the American Worker with every breath she takes in her profession. She has worked night shift for her whole entire nursing career. She did this so she could juggle family and professional obligations. She always was the room mother and went on field trips because my Mom “did not work;” she worked while I was sleeping. She did it with such grace that I did not realize she was gone.
Mom will assist in orienting new nurses and welcomes them with open arms to their new chosen profession. She has even been known to help tutor struggling nursing students and help them along in their academic endeavors. The quest for knowledge is strong in those new to this path. She rejoices when the light is turned on in their eyes and they can understand the complexities involved in patient care.Â All she asks for payment is an invitation to their graduation. She will proudly say, “I grew a nurse.” She is a firm believer in the adage, “See one, do one, teach one.” She puts in countless hours on her feet nightly. At times she goes without a break. She will do whatever it takes to get the job done for those she serves. She has purchased clothing for those who have lost everything in their crisis situation. She may not have a high drama situation every day where a life hangs in the balance, but she does touch and enrich the lives of those she cares and serves.”