Nurse of the Week Hollyanne Milley was in the right place at the right time on Veterans Day! For Milley, who is married to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, attendance at the Arlington National Cemetery annual wreath laying ceremony is routine, but the tradition was disrupted this year when a veteran collapsed and lost conciousness.
Fortunately, Milley is a veteran of sorts herself, having worked for over 30 years in the nursing profession. Her 18 years in critical care and 15 years as a cardiac care nurse have accustomed her to taking prompt action, and she immediately attended to the fallen old soldier. While she and her husband were waiting for the President and Vice President to arrive, she heard the vet fall to the ground and ran over to help. “There were just a few people around him. He was not responsive and couldn’t speak, and he had very labored breathing that was not actually moving air into his lungs,” she told CNN later. Milley instructed someone to call 911 and set to work. Unable to find the vet’s pulse, she performed two cycles of CPR chest compressions. “He took a big spontaneous breath and a big groan on his own, and he started moving air,” she recalls. “After a few breaths, he started coming around.”
The stricken veteran wishes to remain anonymous, but he did not hesitate to thank Milley for reviving him. The former nurse told CNN, “He is grateful that he will be here next year to honor those who served, and said, ‘Because a bystander knew CPR, that’s why I’ll be able to continue honoring our veterans for many years to come.” Milley’s husband, General Mark Milley said that his wife is “representative of the hero medical professionals who are always there when we need them. She represents the strength and service of our military families.”
Click here to see the CNN story on Hollyanne Milley’s eventful Veterans Day.
Nurse of the Week Julie Wedan oversees the management of her brainchild, a respite care wing at Wichita’s Union Rescue Mission for homeless men, and the results have been impressive. Doug Nolte, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, said, “Julie saw a need for a safe, clean environment for men discharged from a care facility to heal. It caused her to research, advocate and solicit funds to get a respite wing opened.” The 18-bed wing provides rehabilitation care for homeless men recovering from illness, accidents, or surgery. Men in the respite wing also receive help with medication, insurance, and establishing primary care physicians.
For Wedan, who has worked full-time caring for the homeless community in Wichita since 1997, the respite wing is her “dream.” In an interview with the Wichita Business Journal, she said, “This is a dream that started with a walk-in medical clinic every Friday.” For many of the men, their time in the wing is the start of a journey toward a stable living situation. After they recover, Union Rescue helps them find “assisted living, sometimes an apartment, whatever is appropriate for the individual,” Wedan says. “We also help them set up house with a bed, furniture and necessities of life.” Mission CEO Nolte noted, “Many of our guests coming to recover end up asking how they can continue in our programs to end their homelessness.”
Wedan is yet another nurse who became drawn to the profession after experience as a patient. Her time in the hospital during a complicated childbirth inspired her to enter nursing school. Three years after her 1994 graduation, she became a nurse at Union Rescue, and has been fully committed to serving the homeless over the past 30 years: “I love my job. I see men helped every day, all day throughout the Mission. We share God’s love. We want the men to know that they are loved and that someone cares about them…”
For more details on Julie Wedan and the Union Rescue Mission for the homeless, see this article in the Wichita Business Journal.
In addition to her dedication to helping others as a surgical trauma nurse at Indianapolis University Health Methodist Hospital, Nurse of the Week Colby Snyder believes in being a good citizen. “It’s really on us, the younger generation, to push for change…” she says, so in addition to helping people register to vote this year, Snyder volunteered at one of Indianapolis’ polling places during the general election. The mounting pandemic spurred a special call for younger poll volunteers, and she quickly stepped forward: “There was a huge push for younger people to work this year, just to help protect that [elderly] age group.” She reflected, “I don’t know, I just wanted to help wherever I could.”
Snyder’s professional and civic duties ended up coinciding during her shift at the polls, though, when a voter collapsed while waiting on line. “I heard a little bit of commotion but didn’t think anything of it,” she says, “and then I turned and saw someone sitting on the floor.” The person on the floor was a female voter. When Snyder came over and asked how she was doing, the voter said that she had not eaten all day and felt light-headed. After Snyder brought her some apple sauce, she recounted, the voter “[said] she wanted to lay down and was pretty shaky… as soon as she went to lay back she went limp.” The poll volunteer-slash-trauma nurse tended to her unexpected patient until the EMS team arrived.
The incident at the polls was Snyder’s second recent foray into nursing outside her usual 12-hour shifts at the hospital. She says, “This happened to me two weeks ago in Kroger!” As she was grocery shopping, Snyder heard someone calling for help and saw a fellow customer laying in the aisle. “He had labored breathing at first and then it stopped,” she recalls. Snyder gave the man chest compressions while they waited for the EMTs: “As soon as EMS was called, I knew they’d be there soon. But prior to them arriving, he started to breathe again.”
Since her experience at the polls, Snyder has been fielding calls from reporters, friends and co-workers, but she says that she simply did what came naturally to her. “It’s strange to be getting all this acknowledgment because you don’t think you did anything special really,” she remarked.
To see a video interview with Colby Snyder, click here.
Nursing school is often a challenge, but it can be particularly hard if you need to have a lung transplant during your junior year. Such was the case with Nurse of the Week Brianna Fogelman.
“I had collapsed lungs…I developed pneumonia,” recalls the Delaware thoracic nurse. “I pretty much was on 10 liters of oxygen–the highest; my husband had to wash me up, had to shower me–I couldn’t walk. I remember going to take my final with my chest tube in my chest and going to school with all of that.” Two weeks before her wedding, Fogelman checked in at Johns Hopkins for a lung transplant. “I was dying…they were trying to wait until after my wedding to do my transplant, and in my mind, I’m like ‘oh I’m going to walk down the aisle with my wedding dress and my oxygen on’…I was just unrealistic, and I was just so wrapped up in not believing that I had to have a transplant.”
Fogelman had her operation in June 2019 and returned to school for her senior year in August. Then, after graduation she had a brilliant interview and was hired on the spot for her dream job: she is now working as a thoracic nurse at the hospital where she had had her lifesaving operation, Johns Hopkins. Fogelman was delighted. “They kind of saw how I was struggling and how I was so determined to finish school on time; I guess I kind of gained their respect that way. Hopkins was pretty much on my side about everything, and they were just really understanding, and they understood that I didn’t want to sulk. Whatever happened, I wanted to be grateful; I wanted to live and I wanted to live my life, so they just backed me 100%.”
As she works with her patients on the Hopkins thoracic ward, Fogelman tries to instill them with her positive attitude: “When you are able to get a second chance at life, it’s like you have a different meaning and a different vision about life and about what matters and what doesn’t matter. Even if you’re in a difficult situation–like me–declining very rapidly, not knowing if you’re going to live the next day…get rooted in something that will keep you going, get rooted in something that will bring support…just make sure you try to have a positive attitude no matter how hard things get.”
For more on Breanna Fogelman’s story, visit WDEL.com.
Caring for the vulnerable and underserved is an inherent part of nursing, and many nurses have been particularly concerned about the plight of the homeless, especially during the pandemic. For some, like Nurse of the Week Jacqueline Smith, serving the homeless becomes a full-time calling. “I get up every morning with a purpose,” Smith says, “to help someone.” Inspired by the service members in her family and the struggle of homeless vets, Smith left nursing to start the Jacqueline Smith Foundation. The San Antonio program extends free food and clothing to homeless veterans and offers them classes, psychological support, and practical assistance as they try to re-enter the job market.
Of her eponymous foundation, the former nurse says, “We believe that no veteran that fought for our country should be homeless or without resources.” She’s proud of her achievement so far: “We’re a fairly new organization, and we’ve helped just over 3,000 people in just nine months.” Still, she always wishes that she could do more, admitting, “when I bring seven new outfits after you’ve been wearing the same set of clothes for the last three days, I know that’s not enough.”
Smith’s foundation is determined to make a difference in the lives of San Antonio’s homeless vets. In addition to food, clothing, and even free head-shot photos for job-seekers, the organization provides free financial literacy classes, navigation of veteran resources classes, and mental health outreach programs. On her foundation website, she states, “We partner with shelters and military organizations for homeless veterans to help those that served our country. No veteran should be homeless after putting their lives on the line for their country.”
As her classes and homeless outreach efforts bear fruit, Smith shares their achievements on her foundation’s Facebook page:
Nurse of the Week Michael King has been dedicated to both nursing and the law for 15 years. His latest challenge—as Commander of the New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division—calls for him to draw upon both of his professions.
The Jamaican-born officer/RN emigrated to New York at the age of 16, and enrolled in an emergency medical technician program after he entered college. After four years of training paramedics, King joined the NYPD as a beat cop in 2000. As a rookie policeman, he attended nursing school and worked in city hospitals during his off hours. By 2005 he was a licensed RN. King eventually became a forensic nurse, and spent his off-duty time as a coordinator at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center’s sexual assault response team. Meanwhile, he pursued his NYPD career as an investigator, a crime scene commander, and later as the executive officer of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
John Miller, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, who recommended King for the Special Victims command, says “If we didn’t have Mike King, I am not sure we could have invented him. At SVU he can combine his experiences of helping people in trauma, his knowledge of science, forensics and investigation and his sense of justice in a way no one else — at least no one else I know — could.”
King’s understanding of the close relationship between forensic nurses and police sex crime units makes him keenly aware of both the wide picture and the details behind the operation of an SVU. He also has first-hand experience with rape kits from his stints as a nurse at hospitals in Long Island and Brooklyn. King says his team uses a “science-based technique that encompasses compassion, sensitivity, and the knowledge of psychological trauma.” He wants to extend training in this area toi patrol officers as well, as “they are usually the first ones at a scene to interview a survivor of sexual assault.”
For an interview with Michael King, see this video at PIX11. More details on King’s background and career are available in this story from AM New York.