Remembrance ceremony kicks off National Nurses Week at local hospital

May 7, 2019

As National Nurses Week kicks off across the country, local nurses came together at Aiken Regional Medical Centers on Monday in the hospital’s annual remembrance ceremony to honor the men and women that came before them.

During the ceremony, prayers and poems were read aloud by Aiken Regional staff, and daisies were distributed to nurses and other medical staff to honor those in the profession.

The daisies’ colors had special meaning, each standing for a different type of nurse: green for military nurses, red for behavioral health nurses, white for fallen nurses and so on.

During the ceremony, some of Aiken Regional’s nurses discussed the trials and triumphs they experienced in their careers and what led them to working in Aiken.

“I’ve enjoyed helping people ever since I was a little girl,” said RN Juliette O’Donnell. “It’s nice to be honored and recognized ... We have a great team here and our community is amazing. It’s emotionally gratifying.”

O’Donnell, who has been a nurse for around 22 years, moved to Aiken six years ago after previously working at MUSC.

“I’m one of the few people in life fortunate enough to find their calling, said Intensive Care Unit RN Jason Stallinds “I have stressful days for sure, but I never feel like I’m at work.”

Stallinds, an Aiken local, has worked at Aiken Regional for three months. He said he enjoys the teamwork and efficiency of his unit.

“If somebody could just walk a mile in our shoes to see the dedication and the compassion the critical care environment has for their families, that’s one thing I wish people could see,” Stallinds said. “They see us running around and may not see us for an hour at a time, but just know that in our hearts, we’re behind the scenes doing everything we can to help them out.”

Being a nurse isn’t always easy. Despite their best efforts, sometimes patients don’t always make a recovery.

“I had a patient that came in for a very routine procedure, and things didn’t go the way they should have,” Stallinds said. “It was nothing our health care team did; it was just one of those times where life happened. She wound up not making it ... That’s one of the things we just have to know: You can’t save everybody. You do your absolute best, but sometimes it’s not meant to be.”

Stallinds, and other nurses he has worked with, find ways to stay positive.

“It’s really hard because if you’re passionate about what you do, if this is your calling, it pulls at your heart strings,” Stallinds said. “I’ve lost patients in the past. I would make a rock garden and plant flowers for them, things like that.”

Clinical Supervisor Jenny Meuse, who has worked at Aiken Regional for 14 years, agreed passion is part of the job when it comes to nursing.

“It’s more than just showing up,” Meuse said. “You have to actually care about people and care about your community to change things.”

Meuse said support systems among staff are crucial for nurses, but patient interaction is what drives and feeds much of that passion.

“Always be kind,” Meuse said. “Always be thankful for the nurses that take care of you – all nurses, everywhere, because there are nurses everywhere.”

National Nurses Week will take place May 6-12 this year.