During a dinner ceremony March 4 in Grand Junction, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Home Health Nurse Manager Terri Jourgensen was nominated for the prestigious Nightingale award.
The Nightingale Award honors registered nurses for excellence in human caring. It began in 1985 and is given annually to a nurse who meets state criteria and is recommended by colleagues.
Jourgensen was nominated by several people, including physicians and clients, according to Marilyn Bouldin of the VNA.
"I am very honored by the fact that a physician and a community member think I would be deserving of the award," Jourgensen said.
One physician nominating Jourgensen was Eric Meyer of the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs. Meyer is an anesthesiologist. He works closely with Jourgensen in helping patients with pain management.
"Most recently, I had the privilege of collaborating with her in the management of a gentleman with terminal cancer," Meyer wrote in his recommendation letter. "It was through Terri's knowledge and recognition of the importance of effective cancer pain management that I was asked to become involved in the care of this patient.
"Throughout this period, Terri was in almost constant contact with the patient and his family, fulfilling many roles as a nurse. In addition to helping me filtrate the types and dosages of medications for analgesia, she was always available to lend support and empathy to the patient and family, and allow them the ability to gather strength and closeness as the life of this individual drew to a close. This requires a very special nurse one that can keep a perspective on dignity and wishes of a dying person, yet be a fireless and effective daily care provider.
"In my opinion, Terri Jourgensen would be most deserving of the Nightingale Award. She is a credit to her profession as well as her community."
VNA Home Care and Hospice Director Jan Fritz also recommended Jourgensen. Fritz told a story of a terminally ill man whose quality of life included being able to hunt. This man wanted to hunt one more time.
"Terri understood how important the hunting experience was and arranged for a van to be rented for five days to enable him and his medical equipment to be transported," Fritz wrote.
The Western Colorado Area Health Education Center in Grand Junction will pick four nominees from Western Colorado to travel to Denver on April 29 for a ceremony that will announce the 2000 recipient of the Nightingale Award.
Others working with Jourgensen believe she is dedicated to her job.
"She is one of the most caring nurses I have ever met," Bouldin said. "She goes above and beyond the call of duty for patients and families."
Jourgensen is fond of helping people and this complements her ability to support families and patients in need.
"I love taking care of patients, especially through hospice. It is the most rewarding as it is the most difficult time for patients and families," Jourgensen said. "For me, it is a personal reward."
Although she is in a supervisory position, Jourgensen wants to continue her work with patients.
"I hope to not get too far from helping people," she said.