Comfort, compassion and caring: no prescription necessary
The mission statement of HospiceMidland reads, "To fulfill the unique needs of patients and their families by providing care from the heart." Caring from the heart is exactly what Cedie Martin, RN, does. Martin is the Clinical Nurse Manager for HospiceMidland's 14-bed inpation unit located on the third floor of Midland Memorial Hospital (MMH).
Martin says, "When I was in school, one job I said I'd never do was hospice. Well, I learned to never say 'never'! When I look back on my career, I think the Lord was preparing me for this all along."
Martin's nursing career began shortly after her graduation from Midland College's Associate Degree Nursing program in December 1991. Her first job as a registered nurse was working at MMH in the postpartum unit. She recalls, "Somehow I always found myself taking care of the moms who had lost their babies because of miscarriages, stillbirths or other problems where the infant didn't live long. These women not only needed the physical care that all new mothers require, but also needed emotional care." Martin remained working in the postpartum unit for five years, eventually becoming assistant manager.
Being a registered nurse means one can choose from a myriad of career opportunities. After leaving MMH, Martin worked at Premier Family Care as a nurse to Dr. James Humphreys. She assisted him in his OB/GYN office practice as well as during surgery. When she left Premier Care, Martin started her own business, Health Care Staffing, where she coordinated contract nursing services to area hospitals. Then, Cedie found her true RN calling—hospice care. She was home hospice nurse for Odyssey Hospice in Midland for several years before assuming her current position at HospiceMidland in September 2006.
Martin credits her Midland College training for much of her success. In fact, she still keeps in touch with Dr. Celia Harris, retired Director of MC's Associate Degree Nursing program. Dr. Harris says, "Cedie Martin was easy to teach—a real self-starter. She set her own high expectations, and she worked hard to achieve them. I remember her as going the 'extra mile' in striving to be well-prepared. And her interpersonal skills were outstanding."
Interpersonal skills are what make Cedie Martin a truly exceptional nurse. She excels in attending to not only the physical needs of her patients, but also their spiritual needs and those of their families. Martin explains that a hospice nurse must "walk families through end-of-life care and the dying process." She states, "This can be a special time in a family's life. I've seen families come closer together during a loved one's final days."
Upon entering her office and seeing the pictures of Martin's own family, including her three-year-old granddaughter Lily, one easily determines that family is important to Cedie Martin. She admits that it is crucial for hospice nurses to have a strong emotional support system and says, "Sometimes it's hard on us. We have to process our grief quickly." She attributes part of her own emtional well-being to her husband of 36 years, Fred, and their three daughters.
However, hospice care does not always mean death for the patient. "Not long ago, we had a young woman who had attempted suicide," recalls Martin. "She was not expected to live, but day by day, we noticed that her condition was improving. Now she is living a healthy, productive life, and we still keep in touch. Discharging patient is kind of 'cool!'"
Martin remembers with a smile another instance of someone leaving her care: "A man came to us for pain management because of cancer. While he was here, he created his 'bucket list.' We worked hard to get his pain under control, and he was able to leave in order to accomplish the items on his list. The very last item was fishing in the Gulf. He actually died while he was fishing. But, he was able to accomplish everything on the listh and passed away doing something he loved."
Patient comfort is a big part of palliative care. "Most doctors entrust us to do whatever it takes to make the patient comfortable," explains Martin. "Of course, we always obtain doctor's orders before administering narcotics, but unlike other medical situation, hospice nurses are able to administer drugs for upset stomachs and mild pain without having to wait on permission from a doctor."
Cedie Martin dispenses her "comfort care" with quiet compassion. She explains, "Sometimes we have to tell the patients that they are dying. When I was working home hospice, I entered a patient's house one morning and saw clinical signs of imminent death. I told her I would be right back, and I went in the kitchen to compose myself. When I re-entered the living room, she looked up at me and stated, 'I'm dying, aren't I?' I sat down beside her, grabbed her hands and said 'yes.' I made sure she was comfortable in her favorite rocking chair, and that's where she died."
Dr. Eileen Piwetz, MC Vice President of Institutional Advancement, was the Division Chair of the Health Sciences Division when Martin was an MC nursing student. Dr. Piwetz is also a member of the HospiceMidland Board of Directors, and now knows Martin in her professional capacity. Piwetz comments, "Cedie Martin is an extraordinary health care professional. She has the gifts of compassion, integrity, intelligence, kindness, and common sense. Her role as the Clinical Nurse Manager of HospiceMidland's inpatient unit is critical. Cedie is THE nurse that you want holding your hand and those of your loved ones when you pass to another life."
One of the patient rooms at the HospiceMidland inpatient unit is referred to as the "angel room" because of the angels painted on the walls. Perhaps a second "angel room" should be the office of Cedie Martin—the angel providing professional medical care as well as supportive social, emotional and spiritual services to the Midland community.