‘Strong look, golden heart’
There isn’t a job at Guthrie County Hospital that Doris Terwilliger can’t do.
She works on the nursing floor, in the emergency room, outpatient, pre-operation and post-operation, and gives her talents and skills in the Guthrie County Hospital Clinics.
“I have worked about every spot you can,” said Terwilliger, who will celebrate her 30-year nursing career at Guthrie County Hospital on June 9.
Terwilliger was recognized for her outstanding, compassionate care with the DAISY Award for extraordinary nurses during a ceremony in the hospital cafeteria on Thursday afternoon.
Four other Guthrie County nurses were nominated for the award, including Loreen Andreasen, Med/Surg nurse manager, Theresa Schiller, Med/Surg nurse, and Merlin Long and Stacy Mahedy both emergency room nurses.
“I personally get to see everyday the quality staff we employ, but today we get to recognize some of them,” said Greg Opseth, Chief Nursing Officer at Guthrie County Hospital.
In four separate nomination letters read by Opseth, Terwilliger was described as kind, caring and dedicated to her patients.
“I witness her kind touches and her concern everyday,” wrote LaRayne Deardorff, a front desk receptionish at the hospital, in her nomination letter for Terwilliger. “She can give that strong look to you, but has a golden heart that genuinely cares about each and every one of us, and those people who are coming through the doors at Guthrie County Hospital every day, and every night.”
Sarah Madsen, Director of Radiology, at Guthrie County Hospital, who has worked with Terwilliger for a number of years, describes her as a first-rate nurse.
“She has the knowledge and confidence that a veteran nurse should have,” Madsen wrote. “I can not think of a time she hasn’t assisted when asked. She comes to work on her days off.”
Dawn Vogel’s nomination letter describes Terwilliger not only as an incredible nurse but also an incredible person.
“Guthrie County Hospital is so lucky to have her,” wrote Vogel, who nominated as a patient at the hospital. “And the thing is, I don’t think Doris realizes the impact she has on every single patient. I thank God everyday for Doris.”
Janell Langel, who works at the hospital, but wrote her nomination letter as a patient, said Terwilliger doesn’t need everyone to know how well she does her job.
“She just does it,” Langel wrote. “As a co-worker, when she’s on duty, you know stuff is going to get done. She’s accountable and tells it how it is, and that’s a respectable leader.”
Langel said Terwilliger will do anything to help out, whether the ER needs her or a late night surgery calls.
“I hope she knows her worth,” Langel said. “Her friendship and her dedication is not unrecognized.”
Terwilliger said from an early age she thought a career in nursing might be for her. She married husband Jim at the age of 18.
“I thought what can I do in a smalltown, to stay here, raise my kids and participate in the community?” she said, of deciding on nursing school.
She went to Carroll her first year and Boone her second. She started at Guthrie County Hospital in June 1987. Jim Terwilliger retired last September after 43 years with Guthrie County REC. The couple raised four children. Daughter Jamie and family live in Newton, daughter Jacie and family in Silver City, son Jimmy and family in Pierre, South Dakota, and son Jordan, who will get married next month, in Guthrie Center.
Dr. Steven Bascom, who has practiced family medicine in Guthrie Center for 40 years, was featured speaker at the ceremony and thanked the nurses for their care.
“You might be surprised that a doctor is speaking at a nursing award,” Bascom said. “But I do have some nursing connections.”
His wife is a nurse, both of his daughters are nurses, his mother and sister are both nurses, and his grandmother was a nurse.
“Maybe I’m the one who chose the wrong career,” he joked.
Bascom said he found out early in his career as a doctor that nurses could help him.
“Special people are needed during times of crisis and we all have crisis situations, different times in our lives,” Bascom said. “Special people are needed as we cope with those stressful times of our lives, and nurses do this in a very special way.”
Bascom said he’s fond of asking his patients during evening rounds how they are being treated, if they are being cared for and if he needs to holler at anybody.
“I know the answer even before I ask the questions, but I ask it because I like to hear it, I like to hear them compliment our staff and our nurses and the care we give here,” he said. “I thank you for your care and thank you for helping me take care of people.”
The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation was established in 1999 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known auto-immune disease. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for the profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.
Opeseth said the award will be presented annually at Guthrie County Hospital during Nurses’ Week in May during a unique and meaningful ceremony. Nominations can be sent to the hospital throughout the year.
Terwilliger received a certificate commending her for being an “Extraordinary Nurse.” The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.” She was also given a beautiful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.
Terwilliger said she’s honored to be the first to receive the award at Guthrie County Hospital.
“I love this hospital, I love this community,” she said.