Jolene Patrick is a people person.
From the time she graduated high school, when she began working for a Best Western hotel in Truckee, Calif., she knew she had a knack for relating to people.
She was good at it, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Up through the ranks of the hotel management world she rose over the years. Over time, though, she began to notice something that unsettled her.
“The problem was, the higher up I rose in the hotels I worked at, the less contact I had with people,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure I loved that. It wasn’t where I felt I was supposed to be.”
Loved ones began pushing Jolene toward college but, to her, getting there seemed an impossibility.
“I was horrible in high school,” she said. “ The thought of returning to school made me uneasy and I couldn’t afford college classes. It just wasn’t possible.”
“It was after the loss of my dad, several close friends, and then the birth of my brother’s triplets, that I realized where I was supposed to be. I watched the nurses and all they did and knew that Nursing school was God’s plan.”
In starting over at the age of 26, though, she never dreamed she’d literally be starting from the ground floor.
“I went in and applied and was told I had to start at the very beginning, remedial math and the whole bit,” she said. “And then, right before the beginning of my first term, my back went out — all the way out.”
“With my injury, I could only make it to the school once a week. I had great teachers. I would turn my work for the week in and take my tests for that week, literally laying on the ground upside down with my pencil pressing against the scorecard on the underside of the desk because of my back. It was a real struggle.”
Even with all that, she rattled off straight A’s through all of her courses that semester.
“I hadn’t gotten straight A’s ever in my life,” she said. “And I started thinking, hey if I can do this on pain medication and muscle relaxers, laying on the ground, I can do anything I set my mind to.”
It went from there — regular appearances on the Dean’s List, a degree in three years, a new career.
“It wasn’t that I had been bad at school when I was younger,” she said. “I just hadn’t applied myself. I graduated college in three years — they don’t recommend that. I had no medical background when I went in. It was the most challenging thing in my life, but at the same time I grew so much as a person. It was what I was meant to do. It was my chance to heal and to help people.”
Jolene, who is now manager of Carson Valley Medical Center’s Wound Care Center, was recently honored with CVMC’s Winter DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
The award, created by the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem) Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, is given by more than 2,700 healthcare facilities in all 50 states and 17 other countries in recognition of extraordinary registered nurses. Barnes died of the autoimmune disease ITP in 1999 and the award was established by his family in recognition of the extraordinary care they received. CVMC began awarding the honor in December of 2017 on a biannual basis.
Jolene was the third nurse CVMC has bestowed the honor upon.
“It was a real honor, but at the same time, it was very humbling,” she said. “I do for my patients what any nurse would do — and that’s just to advocate for them, go the extra mile for them, because I hope someone would do that for my family.”
When she graduated college, she worked first for a small rehabilitation center in Spokane, Washington.
“We did it all there,” she said. “I had a preceptor there who was one of the best things to ever happen to me. That was when I realized I had a real interest in the healing process of the body — when I knew I had an appetite for wound care.”
“It amazes me, what the human body is capable of. Regenerating and healing, reminding me of a lizard being able to grow back a tail, but we as humans are really able to do the same thing. With wound care, you have to be able to handle what is happening in front of you and be able to comfort the patient in what they are going through. Before I was a nurse, I didn’t do doctors, or needles or blood or any of it. But the further I got into this career, the more I realized this is just where God placed me. He had a plan and knew where I was supposed to be at just the right time. All roads kind of led to wound care.”
“I saw the demand and the need for someone just focused on wounds.”
Jolene and her husband lost one of their five children seven years ago, which is something that has impacted her interactions with every patient she sees — something which she said gave her an extra feeling of kinship with the award namesake’s family.
“I’ve been through so many things in my life, I’m able to empathize with people who are going through something. I have lived life, it wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always smart, but I lived it and survived it and now I can use all those tools God gave me to put me to work for Him.”
A year after her daughter’s death, she and her family moved to Gardnerville where she became the Wound Care Center manager for CVMC.
“I’d been looking for a change — I was back in Oregon by that time — and it was my mom who called and said they saw CVMC was looking for wound care. I was familiar with the town from growing up in Truckee, but it was still very new to me. I’d worked at David Walley’s in Genoa for a period of time in my 20s, so I knew this place existed. But ever since we moved here, It’s been fantastic. It’s been exactly what we needed. It’s a great community and the hospital is fantastic.”
“I’m blessed. Every day I wake up is a new day. Life happens and sometimes it’s negative but I truly try to find the positive in everything. It’s a rewarding sleep to know that you have helped someone get through something. I don’t know if there is anything more rewarding in the world to know that you have helped someone get through a challenging time in their life.”
The CVMC Wound Care Center is located at 1516 Virginia Ranch Road in Gardnerville, across the street from the main hospital building on Highway 395. Call 775-782-3075 for more information.
If you would like to nominate one of CVMC’s nurses for the next DAISY Award, visit cvmchospital.org/daisy for more information.