Jimmy Long

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Hospice Nurse

Jimmy Long didn’t grow up wanting to be a healthcare professional. He never felt compelled to study medicine or dreamed of becoming a doctor. In fact, he had little experience with the healthcare system until, as an adult, he watched his grandmother traverse it in the end of her life. The day he looked upon his grandmother lying in the bed of a sterile hospital room, the two separated by a glass panel, was a defining moment in Jim’s career path. He watched his grandmother pass away in an unfamiliar and unfriendly environment without even the comforting touch of her family. He didn’t want other people to share that experience in death; he didn’t want other family members to watch. After years of working on aircraft simulators, Jim went back to school to become a nurse intending to provide better end-of-life care for patients. And he has done just that for nearly two decades.

“As a hospice nurse, I get to care for patients one-on-one helping them make importance decisions about their end-of-life care with their family by their side,” says Jim. Jim says a lot of his work is focused on helping patients and their families understand the transition to palliative care. “There is a lot of fear around hospice,” he says. “A lot of people think it is the very last leg.” Jim admits that hospice is offered when patients are in their last phase of life. However, he emphasizes that the last phase could be months, not just days – and those months should be spent living. Jim provides the clinical and emotional support necessary for patients to spend the remainder of their life focusing on their loved ones, not their disease.

Jim’s ability to ease the physical and emotional discomfort associated with hospice care is likely why he was recognized as Oklahoma’s 2016 Hospice Nurse of the Year. “He demonstrates patient advocacy and compassion while ensuring the needs and expectations of his patients are anticipated and met,” shares one of Jim’s colleagues. There is no shortage of kind words said or heartfelt patient stories told about Jim. One family, for whom he cared for three of its members, refers to Jim as their angel. Another family offered their support to Jim while he recovered from an illness saying: “He’s always given so much to us, now we need to give to him.”

Altruism is a common theme that defines Jim's nursing career. Having been driven to nursing because of a desire to give patients a more respectful and peaceful passing than his grandmother experienced, Jim spends his days offering comfort in the face of the most uncertain and frightening period of a patient’s, and their families,’ lives. Judging from his recent award and the many patient testimonials, there is no doubt he does it well.

Jimmy is a RN for St. John Hospice, part of the family of companies under the Ascension at Home and Evolution Health joint venture.