By CONTRIBUTED REPORT
The Work is its Own Reward
The worst of times brings out the best in some people. Caring for the elderly during a pandemic is not easy, but Meshea “Shea” Jackson, LPN, makes it look that way. She works as a nurse at the Southeast Georgia Health System Senior Care Center in Brunswick. “If you approach this work with love and compassion, it’s very rewarding.”
“I have a unique bond with the residents and their families. I know I’m making an impact on their lives. It doesn’t even feel like a job,” Jackson says.
As she goes about her rounds, Jackson helps the CNAs who assist residents with various daily tasks. She also distributes medication, performs facility-wide COVID testing, advocates for residents and keeps communication flowing between families and their relatives. “When the families call and ask for me, I know they trust and appreciate the work I’m doing,” Jackson says.
Her efforts are also appreciated by her Director of Nursing, Diane Veiga. “Shea is a caring, compassionate nurse who puts the residents and the needs of the facility first. She works tirelessly with a never-ending smile while assisting with facility -wide COVID testing, providing residents with exemplary care and supporting her teammates.”
Caring for her co-workers comes naturally for Jackson. “I love the staff. We share similar values and a focus on quality care.” She’s grateful to her employer, too. “During this stressful time, it’s nice to work for people who understand.”
A Nurturing Nature
Jackson’s love of service began in childhood. “When my father was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, my sister and I helped with his medication and grooming.” That experience, and her father’s pride in her ability to care for him, planted a seed in Jackson’s mind. She went on to attend nursing school at Coastal Pines Technical College in Waycross before joining the Health System. She could not have known that one day she would be on the frontlines of a pandemic, but Jackson is glad to be making a difference during this historical time.
Silver Linings and Sacrifices
Jackson’s knack for finding the silver lining in every situation even extends to COVID-19. “It has taught me to value time with my family and friends, to not take anything for granted.” Although her family reunion in Jamaica was cancelled, Jackson is grateful that they organized a Zoom family reunion with a Jamaican theme.
Like most health care workers, her home life is impacted by the coronavirus. When the outbreak began she taught her affectionate 9-year-old son to not hug her until she changes out of her work scrubs. “I tell him, ‘When Mommy has on blue, I’ll come to you.’” Their time together is precious, and sometimes cut short. “He stays with my mother when I’m working long hours.” Fortunately, Jackson receives understanding and support from her tight-knit family, several of whom work in health care.
Not taking things for granted extends to cleanliness, too. Jackson has always been cautious, and urges the public to do the same. “Be careful, wash your hands and wear your mask. Take care of yourself. This pandemic can take a toll on your mental health.”
If the world seems to be falling apart at times, Jackson keeps herself together with prayer and positive affirmations. “I try not to let fear take over. I believe in God and I go out every day knowing I’m protected.”
With faith and fortitude, Shea Jackson goes forth, sharing her smile and compassion with others. A smile and a positive attitude may not cure the coronavirus, but they have the power to dispel fear when and where it’s most needed.
The public is encouraged to write to residents of the Senior Care Centers. Send cards and letters to: Resident, c/o Senior Care Center, 2611 Wildwood Dr., Brunswick, GA 31520, or to Resident, c/o Senior Care Center, 805 Dilworth St., St. Marys, GA 31558.
Today’s Frontline Heroes is sponsored by Southeast Georgia Health System. Visit their website at sghs.org.