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VA Nurse Brings Her Baby Goats to Work for National Nurses Week


Is there a goat in the house? In addition to being a VA nurse, Mary Jordan is known as a lover of baby goats. She brings her furry farmland friends to the hospital where she works every year to celebrate National Nurses Week. 

The staff at Patient Care Services at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia, Missouri lined up in the adjacent lawn to play with a group of baby Nigerian dwarf goats. It was the perfect way to close out another day of saving lives.

“I view the time I spend with my goats as therapeutic,” Mary said. “When I come home from a long day, I find peace and joy whenever I’m with them. I want to bring that same feeling to my colleagues. Although my focus is on our amazing nursing staff, I want every Truman VA employee to have an opportunity to experience a few minutes with these cuddly kids.”

Mary and her husband live on a farm where they tend to the goats. She recalled her first experience with them nearly five years ago when she came home from work to find a litter of baby goats in the backyard. She lay down in the grass as the small creatures surrounded her, bringing her instant comfort and joy.

Her relationship to the goats grows every year as the herd continues to expand. When her goats have babies, she cannot help but keep ten of them for herself.

She first fell in love with these adorable creatures twenty years ago when she was living in Maine. When she and her husband moved for work, they had to sell their goats to a neighbor. Mary explained that she was “goat sober” for 15 years until five years ago when she “fell off the wagon” by raising another litter.

There are now 40 adult goats on her farm with around 20 babies. She has come to treat them like pets. They all have names, such as Jellybean, Cindy Lou Who, Just Plain Ed and Just Plain Red.

Mary decided to bring them to work after reading about the therapeutic benefits of dog therapy. Several healthcare facilities use dog therapy programs to reduce stress and burnout among staff and Mary is trying to do the same with her baby goats.

She and her husband take the goats to schools and healthcare centers all over the area to help spread the job. They recently stopped by a nursing home to find a line of residents waiting to pet the goats.

“The elderly people didn’t want to give up the baby. We’d put one baby in a lap, and a really old lady would hold it. And she’d hold it so tight. And she would not want to give it to the next lady,” Jordan recalled. “We had some really, really touching moments going to the nursing homes here in Columbia with some of the older folks. It’s super rewarding,”

Mary also plays nurse to the goats when one of the babies is born with health conditions, such as a broken leg or muscle strain. She will even help her goats give birth if needed. During “kidding season,” she often spends all her free time attending to the mothers and infants, often rushing home from her lunch break to check on them.

“She’s always had extra love for either people or animals,” said her husband Dennis, a local realtor. “So, I don’t think in her world, she can ever have enough.”

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