‘An awesome nurse named Beth’
Andrew and Beth get reacquainted, more than 17 years after she was his nurse when he was admitted for treatment of diabetes at age 7.
A reunion more than 17 years in the making took place in the lobby of the Adele Hall Campus recently when former patient Andrew Miller, currently completing an internship in the CM Strategic Planning Department, reunited with a staff member whose kindness and care left an impression that will last a lifetime.
Andrew, now 24 and finishing his master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Administration at UMKC, was brought to Children’s Mercy in November 1998 at age 7 after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“I knew I had diabetes, but I never really thought of it as a bad thing because I was really well taken care of. I never felt sick here. I was here for about five days, and it was like a vacation! I got to play video games, watch movies and order off the menu every day. I liked all the people I interacted with, but my favorite was a special nurse named “Beth.” Ever since then when I tell my story about living with diabetes, I always mention that I had this awesome nurse named Beth.” Andrew sent Beth a thank-you note, but never saw her again after that week in the hospital.
Shortly after starting his CM internship earlier this year, Andrew checked the employee directory and was delighted to find that “Beth” is still here: Beth Woodford, RN, MSN, APRN, CPNP-PC, who is now a Nurse Practitioner in the RAPS (Rehabilitation for Amplified Pain Syndromes) program.
Andrew sent Beth an email and they made arrangements to meet again. Andrew was excited as he prepared to reunite with someone whose face he couldn’t recall, yet still held a treasured place in his memory.
“I got a haircut last night…I shined my boots…I wore a 'Mercy Blue' shirt just for the occasion,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll hug her or shake her hand or just say ‘Hello!’”
When Beth approached, a hug it was.
“What the heck, I have to just ask you point blank,” were Beth’s first words. “How old are you now?” When Andrew responded, the diminutive nurse, who did indeed remember Andrew, said, “I still think of you as shorter than me!”
After a brief reacquainting chat, the two adjourned to the Sombart Lobby, where they caught up on their respective lives for the past 17-plus years, talked about diabetes treatment then and now, snapped photos with their smartphones, and found that after all this time they still have connections: Dr. Larry Kurt Midyett, Andrew’s current endocrinologist, was Beth’s collaborating physician when she became a Nurse Practitioner.
“I haven’t seen him in years!” Beth said. “Tell him you saw me and be sure to show him the pictures of us!”
Andrew said he doesn’t know why Beth stands out in his recollections.
“I don’t remember everything she said or did, but whatever it was stuck with me,” he said. “My only real memory of her was her name tag! I think she was just really close to me; I think she took really good care of me, and she was nice to me.”
“I was really touched,” said Beth, a CM employee for 19 years, in describing her feelings when she received Andrew’s email. She said she “definitely” remembered Andrew, and as to why he remembered her despite not being able to pinpoint a particular reason, she cited the way she managed patients and parents.
“My guess would be that you remembered me after all these years because I was really, really big on talking to the kids,” Beth said. “If I was teaching how to give insulin shots or check blood sugar, I looked at the child. I found that was the best way to teach parents. If you talk directly to the kid, parents observe that and remember everything. So I probably didn’t pay much attention to your parents; I paid all the attention to you. I wanted to give my patients the empowerment to know they were going to be fine.”
Andrew said the lessons from Beth and the providers who followed her have been effective in managing his condition.
“I think I’ve been a pretty good diabetic, just because I was trained really well.”
So nurses and other staffers, on those days when you feel overwhelmed, perhaps discouraged and wondering if the kiddos you care for appreciate or will remember the special attention you give them, remember Andrew—and how he remembers “An awesome nurse named Beth.”
Learn more about Children's Mercy's RAPS Program.