Medical Center Enterprise nurses give a glimpse of day to day shift and what inspires them

Nursing is a job that requires a lot of different strengths. News4's Kinsley Centers took a trip to Medical Center Enterprise to give us a look at their daily.
Updated: May. 5, 2023 at 4:30 PM CDT
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ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WTVY) - Medical Center Enterprise is located in the heart of the City of Progress, where they provide care for Enterprise and beyond as a 131-bed facility.

Nursing is a job that requires mental, physical, and emotional strength. From working in the Emergency Room to the ICU, Lee Miller, Debbie Weber and Emily Freese have seen it all. They are now taking the time to share their story of what inspired them to work in the healthcare field, and provide a glimpse of what a shift may look like.

“At the age of 17, my mother had a brain bleed, and I always felt like it was something amazing to see the nurses in the ICU and how they would work with my mother, and how they treated our family, and how they made us a part of her care back then and they gave us a lot of comfort, and that really kind of made my decision about going into health care,” Miller, Quality Analyst at Medical Center Enterprise, said.

That decision sent Miller down the path of working in healthcare, where he has now earned 33 years of experience.

“It’s really not a 9-to-5 job,” Miller said. “You really take that with you 24/7. There are patients that you think about, and their families, long after you have clocked out. Not just until you see them again, but throughout the rest of your life because there are some things that you learn from those patients and families that can help you aid another family.”

Miller is one of many front liners who make an impact in caring for their community, but he said the impact the patients make on them is just as strong.

“I don’t think people realize just how much that we take home that, you know, we still think about them and pray for them, we still love them and even long after they are discharged, you know, they are still on our mind,” Miller said. “There are patients from 30 years ago that I still think about today.”

Miller spent years working in the ICU providing the same comfort his family once received.

“Being able to monitor the patients, seeing them in a more critical state that, you know, what a difference I could make for them, and the comfort for their families, and that just really kind of set my day, you know, because I think when you come into your day, you have to decide what kind of day you are going to have, and whatever day you’re going to have is also going to be what kind of day that your patient has,” Miller said. “So, I feel like if you say to yourself, ‘You’re going to have a good day,’ and make that your point to make everything a good day, that your patients will see that and feel better and give them a more positive outlook on their stay.”

Miller strives for good days, as he is now working as a quality analyst to help patients get what they need while keeping that same compassion he has always had.

“You have to feel that compassion for your patients, but not only them, but also for their families, because the patient, even though you are their advocate, the family is just as much important as your decision and how that, you are going to react,” Miller said.

Weber is also a nurse in the ICU at Medical Center Enterprise.

“I was the little girl that made the little white paper hats and put them on, the little nurses’ hats, and just trying to take care of everybody,” Weber said.

She said she has always had a heart for nursing since she was a child. She has now been working as a nurse for a decade, a job where she said time management is key.

“You have to plan out your day, expect changes are going to happen, you have to be flexible, you have to use a lot of critical thinking, a lot of communication and collaboration with the different departments, so it’s a lot of responsibility,” Weber said. “But like I said, I love it.”

Weber said the hospital’s impact on the city of Enterprise goes beyond providing healthcare.

“We have a financial impact obviously creating jobs, paying taxes, those sorts of things, which is wonderful for our community, but also the fact that the staff here, they are amazing, very talented people,” Weber said. “We have excellent surgeons, physicians, nurses, ancillary staff, but they are also compassionate. They want to treat people like their family, because this is our community. These are our neighbors, our family, our friends that are coming through these doors.”

Weber said she loves the nurturing aspect of her job.

“You’re taking care of not just the physical being, but also their emotional well-being, and same with their families, try to give them support as well, so I really enjoy that,” Weber said.

Weber carries the weight of that responsibility with grace and determination.

“Maybe you are performing CPR on a patient, and whether the outcome is good or not, the next thing is you are going into another room like it’s a fresh start, like nothing ever happened,” Weber said. “So, it’s difficult to take those tragedies home with you and then let it loose.”

Freese, also an RN at Medical Center Enterprise, agrees.

“We want to care for everybody like they are our own family, so it does require our whole selves to be there 110-percent of the time,” Freese said.

Before entering the world of healthcare, Freese said she did not fully grasp just how physical the job is.

“I could come here and work for 12 hours and go home, and I’ve walked over six to seven miles here because you are just constant,” Freese said. “It’s taxing. You’re always doing something. I never really realized that was a thing, and you have always got to be thinking of what’s next, like what’s going to happen next. I’m going to prepare for the worst, but expect for the best, so you always have to be one step ahead of everything else, and so that’s also the hard part. You go home, and you’re like, ‘I am emotionally so exhausted,’ but it’s so rewarding at the same time. I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t love it. There are so many things you can do, but you choose to come here every single day because I love it.”

The long hours are challenging, but what comes with each hour is fulfillment.

“I think it’s the patients that come in that are a little bit more stubborn, that don’t want to use me as a nurse,” Freese said. “They think, ‘Maybe I’m not as sick as I really am,’ and I’m there to help them and trying to break down their barriers and trust me as an advocate of them. I really love those kinds of patients, because at the end of the shift I really get to bond with them, and I get to be there with them, and it’s just always so sweet because I feel like I am a part of their family.”

Freese was inspired by her father to become a nurse.

“He’s a firefighter,” Freese said. “He was that for 30+ years and he has always served his community, so I always thought that was something I wanted to do.”

She works in the emergency room, and said it’s a different scenario everyday, but one thing stays the same: she is by a patient’s side.

“They are here in the ER, they are having the worst days of their life, and I’m there to be their comfort, to be their advocate and their support system, so that’s what I really like,” Freese said.

Miller, Weber and Freese all agree the connection this hospital has with the community is one of the most rewarding parts to their jobs.

“This is our community, these are our neighbors, our family, our friends that are coming through these doors,” Weber said.

Freese said the love of her job and community make the more difficult shift worth it, and there is no end in sight for her.

“We are the only hospital here so one, we’re a really good resource,” Freese said. “We have great staff here, we live here, so we love our job, and we love Enterprise, and I think that reflects in the care that we give because we truly do treat every patient like this is our own neighbor, this is the people we see at the store because we recognize them, so we truly do give them compassionate and quality care.”

Miller said the team at Medical Center Enterprise works together as a team.

“As my boss would say, ‘One team, one fight,’ that is our motto, there’s no other way to do it,” Miller said.

Freese and Weber are both Daisy Award recipients.

“Anytime your work, your employees, your team members, or a patient recognizes you for something that you’ve done, it is an honor,” Weber said. “It makes you feel very good.”

Weber earned her award in December of 2022.

“I remember the day so well,” Weber said. “I was coming out of a COVID room, stripped off the PPE, and then administration was standing there and they asked for me and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble [laughs],’ but I remember it so well because my hair was stuck to my head and I was a mess. But when I received the award I was just so surprised, so appreciative. It’s an honor to receive a Daisy Award, absolutely an honor. It just speaks to compassionate nursing and I strived for, so it was wonderful.”

Freese was a recipient in March of this year.

“It was so exciting,” Freese said. “I did not think I would ever be nominated for a Daisy Award, but I think the best part of it is that I truly love my job and I love patient care, so to win an award doing something I love is really an amazing thing. I was very grateful and very shocked; I had no clue.”

Click here to read about the meaning of a Daisy Award.

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