The Learning Curve
Jessica Bailey was just 19 years old when she walked onto the fourth floor of CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. An admitted rookie, Jessica had just made the move from her hometown in central Kansas to the pine forests and small bayous of central Louisiana.
Beth Parsons, the administrator at CHRISTUS Dubuis Hospital of Alexandria, hired Jessica as a unit secretary and calls the move to employ Jessica a great one.
“I knew right away she was a very motivated young woman,” Parsons explained. “Jessica establishes goals for herself and does everything in her power to meet them.”
For the last 10 years, Jessica has met a lot of goals and has risen in the ranks at CHRISTUS Dubuis Hospital of Alexandria.
In 2006, after being hired as an entry-level unit secretary, Jessica’s work got her a promotion and she was transferred into a rehab tech position.
In August 2010, Jessica enrolled in college classes at LSU Alexandria. Two years later she obtained an associate’s degree.
She finished her bachelor’s degree in May 2014 and in August went for her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at University of Louisiana in Lafayette.
Dec. 16, 2016 she walked the stage while her coworkers, family and friends cheered her on.
“They always had my back, supported and listened to me,” said Jessica. “During our morning group huddles, if they knew I had a test, everyone would pray for me.”
She describes her work atmosphere as supportive, flexible and a family feeling.
“They understood because many of them had gone through the rigors of nursing school. I am so fortunate that I am now able to work with this group now as a nurse practitioner.”
Jessica attended school all while working full-time at CHRISTUS Dubuis and holding extra responsibilities as the hospital’s instructor for Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support.
“When I found my work, I found myself,” Jessica said. “It is very easy to be part of this place.”
The Dubuis History
Jessica and her team are responsible for providing long-term and sometimes complex acute care to their patients. While the majority of their patients are elderly, they treat a span of numerous afflictions and chronic diseases. The average patient stay is about 25 days. CHRISTUS Dubuis Hospital of Alexandria is located on the fourth floor of CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini and has a total of 25 long-term acute care beds.
“We see the sickest of the sick patients, but it is a real honor to do so,” said Jan Hamilton-Crawford, president of CHRISTUS Dubuis. “Our nurses, like Jessica and many of our Associates, describe a real feeling of closeness to not just their patients but to their patients’ families since they get to spend a great deal of time with them.”
The CHRISTUS Dubuis Health System is located in other cities including Beaumont, Texas, Fort Smith, Ark., Hot Springs, Ark., and Paris, Texas and manages facilities in Atlanta, Ga., Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Katy, Texas.
The Nurse Connection
Despite the geographical spread, there is a connection amongst those who work in long-term care nursing. As Jessica and others know, there are challenges on the floor. Their work requires an extraordinary level of analytical thinking, compassion and knowledge of nursing which all has to be evenly balanced. Yet for Jessica, it isn’t those challenging days that she remembers with any great detail. Instead it is those days in nursing which bring the best reward and are some of the reasons why she continued her education and kept herself so busy for the last 10 years.
“The best days are when patients or their families come back and tell you how they are doing and how you made a difference. Those are the best days.”
Jessica’s hoping for many more days like that. A patient and his wife just returned last week to give her a hug. This year, she worked Christmas but says it didn’t bother her.
“I’ve got a great family feeling right here.”