Photographer Carolyn Jones has a new respect for nurses after conducting more than 100 interviews with the medical professionals.
“They see us holistically and with an intimacy that few other people ever will,” she told Business Insider.
Jones first began to understand the nurses role in healthcare after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. “I always thought that nurses just take our temperature and blood pressure, or hold our hand and comfort us while we’re waiting for the doctor to show up. But I was so wrong,” she said.
So when given the opportunity by the health care company Fresenius Kabi to create a project that would celebrate nurses, Jones signed up. Her photographs and on-camera interviews have been collected in “The American Nurse.” These images show a new side of the profession.
Tonia Faust, Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana
“Louisiana State Penitentiary is the only maximum security prison that we have in Louisiana. We have the death row that’s here, and we have about 5,200 offenders here. In June 2011 they appointed me the as the hospice program coordinator. It’s an exceptional program, we are the only accredited Louisiana DOC facility hospice program, and what makes our program so unique is our [inmate] hospice volunteers. [They] go through a 40-hour educational process, body mechanics, assisted daily living activities, and show them through the grief and dying process.”
“[Studies] show that our anxiety medications and pain management medications were a lot lower here at the Louisiana State Penitentiary — and we feel that it’s because through Warden Cain allowing this [hospice] program, that our patients’ anxiety levels are much less because they have someone at their bedside. They’re pain management is top priority, to make sure that when they do pass, it’s as pain free as possible.”
Goldie Baker Huguenel, Interim LSU Public Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana
“I was born in New Orleans and have always lived here. I am probably the oldest nurse around here.”
“[When] Hurricane Katrina hit, [she was] mean. Dealing with Katrina was like dealing with the death of a city. Some things die and never come back. What I remember most about being in the hospital during Katrina was that not one nurse would leave until each and every patient had been evacuated. The patients in the ICU on the twelth floor were carried down on spine boards in the hot, dark, slippery stairwells, and everyone did a hero’s job of it. There was no panic, no one screaming to get out or anything like that. It was amazing.”
Venus Anderson, Nebraska Medical Center / LifeNet, Omaha, Nebraska
“Four years ago, my father was in a motorcycle accident. He was injured badly…and another flight team [of nurses] went out to get him. He did not survive, he died at the trauma center. And that shook my whole foundation because my father was the most amazing man. When he died, it changed everything. That was the first time, when I came back to work, and everything was personal.”
“I use to, when we would go somewhere, I would not want to know a name and make it personal. But after dad died, I made a point to talk to the families before I took their loved ones. I took those two minutes to go out and say ‘My name is Venus, I’m going to be flying your husband, brother, mother, wife, to Omaha. This is what I’m going to do, this is how you’re going to know we made it ok — I’ll call you and let you know how it went.'”
“That’s something I never did before. When I would get to the trauma center, I would call the family every time — because the one thing that killed me, when that whole process [with my dad] was going on, was not knowing what was going on with your loved one. It’s a piece in transport nursing that gets missed a little bit, because we are so about moving fast — and it’s important to move fast, but, before where I may have thought that was a little bit of a waste of time, after that point, it wasn’t a waste of time anymore — it was important.”