Nightingale Award Winner Puts Clients First

In her four years as a nurse in the detoxification unit at Rushford’s Silver Street location in Middletown, Jeannie Cardona, RN, has seen her share of challenging patients who have come to her for treatment in moments of great distress -- only to relapse once their condition is stabilized.

“It can be kind of hard to remain optimistic sometimes, especially when you see how much this disease has a hold on some people,” she said, referring to the clients she cares for who struggle with addiction issues. “But when you get a patient who really responds to what we’re trying to do, it makes it all worthwhile.”

For Jeannie, such a moment came last year when she went to a local supermarket and was greeted enthusiastically by an employee who recognized her right away. The man had gone to the detox unit earlier in the year suffering from acute alcoholism, and Jeannie had made sure he kept up with his treatment even after he repeatedly told her he wanted to leave the building.

Jeannie Cardona, RN, Rushford detoxification nurse and 2016 Nightingale Nursing Award winner.

“I remember he was getting ready to get up and leave, and I told him I would stay and make sure he got the care he needed so he could remain overnight,” said Jeannie, who is one of the nursing team leaders on the unit. “I stayed four hours past my shift, but he was still there when I came back the next day. Of course, he wanted to leave again, but I made sure he stayed with us. I could see he was at a critical point.”

Jeannie said the man’s alcoholism was so severe that he would likely have died if he went back out and relapsed. Instead, the man checked himself in for 30 days of treatment followed up with a stay at Rushford Stonehaven, where he embarked on a path to sobriety that still continues, Jeannie said.

  • “I thank God Jeannie talked to me. If she had not I would have gone back out and drank.”

    - Anonymous

The man was so grateful to Jeannie that he repeatedly checked in with her during the course of his recovery, and wrote commendations recommending her for a WOW Award, which is how employees are recognized for exemplary work.

“I thank God Jeannie talked to me,” he wrote. “If she had not I would have gone back out and drank.”

Jeannie was thrilled that he was on the right track, but lost track of him until she went to the supermarket that day. He was continuing with his treatment program and had begun working at the supermarket while moving into his own apartment.

“At first I didn’t recognize him because he looked so much healthier,” she said. “He had good color back in his face, he was positive and energetic. It was amazing.”

Jeannie said the man’s story reminds her of why she chose nursing for a profession.

“My mother and my aunt were both nurses, so I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she said. “They used to always talk about the clients who they helped; you could see it meant a lot to them. It means a lot to me, too.”

For her dedicated work on behalf of clients, Jeannie was recognized in 2016 as a recipient of the Nightingale Nursing Award, which is handed out every year to nurses across the state who go above and beyond. They are nominated by their peers in the field.