Lindsey Smith, Recruitment Account Executive AJC|Cox Media Group and Jennifer Gregor, LPN, Account Executive Halcyon Hospice

Lindsey Smith, Recruitment Account Executive AJC|Cox Media Group and Jennifer Gregor, LPN, Account Executive Halcyon Hospice

Halcyon Hospice is pleased to announce that Jennifer Gregor, LPN has been named as a nominee for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s (AJC) 2014 Nursing Excellence Awards. For the tenth consecutive year, The AJC is celebrating nurses who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in treating patients. Nominations come from patients, their families, peers, managers – anyone that has an inspirational story to share.

Gregor became interested in nursing in 1996 when her father was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a nine hour surgery to remove multiple areas of metastasis. “We were at one of the best hospitals in the world and it was intriguing to me how the doctors were able to save his life and how the nurses were caring for him. Watching him transition from multiple days in the ICU to the regular floor was a great experience. That’s when I knew….I started nursing school the following year.”

With 17 years of nursing experience and 4 years in hospice, Gregor currently works as Halcyon Hospice’s Clinical Liaison at Northside Hospital and Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The nomination for the Nursing Excellence Award was made by Candace White, Staff Nurse at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Pulmonary/Thoracic Unit.

Jennifer Gregor is a Licensed Practical Nurse and an account executive for Halcyon Hospice. Upon the request of our patients’ attending physicians, Jennifer routinely visits patients and families at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital to provide them with information about what Halcyon Hospice can offer them, and to perform assessments in order to determine an individual’s candidacy for hospice services. Most of the time that I see Jennifer on our unit, she is at our nurse’s station either consulting with physicians, or reviewing medical records as a process to again, determine a patient’s hospice candidacy. The first time I witnessed Jennifer’s interaction with a patient was phenomenal.

One day, I had been assigned to care for an elderly man whose health status was in detrimental condition; he was likely to die within the next day or two. Jennifer had been asked by the patient’s attending physician to determine if the patient was eligible for in-patient hospice. Jennifer came and spoke with the incapacitated man’s family regarding what Halcyon could offer—comfort in the last days and hours of the man’s life. The family was in agreement to transfer the man to Halcyon’s in-patient hospice unit. It seemed as though the family was having a very hard time coping with the deteriorating health status of their loved one as they packed up their belongings and left the hospital. The man was non-responsive and now without any familial support. Unfortunately, it became evident around 6:30 pm that the man likely would not live through the night and perhaps not even through the transfer process. His heart rate began to slow to a dangerous rate and his respirations became agonal.  Jennifer explained to me that these were signs that the man was “actively dying”. 7:25 pm rolled around and I had just finished giving report to the oncoming nurse about all five of my patients, including the elderly man whom it was decided would stay at the hospital with “comfort care” orders. Jennifer was still there, in the patient’s room. I wanted to inform her that I was leaving, as my shift was over.  As I entered the room, Jennifer turned around in the chair that she had positioned at the man’s bedside. She was holding his hand and a tear was rolling down her cheek. Before I could say a word, she said, “he stopped breathing, he has passed away, but thank goodness he wasn’t alone.” 

Several months later, in a similar situation, I was able to be present in the last moments of an elderly woman’s life entrusted to my care and the care of the new graduate nurse that I was training. In my experience, it’s not common practice for nurses in the acute care setting to take the time out of their busy day to sit with a patient while they die. But thanks to Jennifer, the end of life care provided by myself and this new graduate nurse will forever include the priority principle of presence. Thank you Jennifer Gregor for teaching me the importance of presence at the end of life, especially the last moments of life, and for enabling me to teach others the same value.

Gregor was taken off guard upon receiving news of the nomination but thrilled to be honored, “There are so many experiences that I have been through with so many families that are all special in some way. Assisting with the last wishes of someone’s life you feel the obligation to do everything you can so that they experience a peaceful ending. You know I wear a necklace with the word STRENGTH on it. In this field over the years I’ve learned that as nurses we have the unique ability to pull strength from our patients and their families and that’s how we find a way to keep going.”

For more information on AJC’s Nursing Excellence Awards, visit AJC.com.