Registered nurses Jewell Jones, left, and her daughter, Alexis Jones, pause Wednesday outside the Outpatient Pavilion at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, where they both work. Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff
May 9, 2020 10:35:50 PM
One of Alexis Jones' early memories is of her mom, dressed in medical scrubs, dropping her off at day care on the way to work. She remembers being proud that her parent was a nurse, that she helped sick people get well. Her mother, Jewell Jones, may not have been fully aware at the time of the impression she was making on her youngest daughter, but she certainly is now. Alexis, 22, has followed in Jewell's footsteps. Both mother and daughter are nurses at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus. In a few months, Jewell will celebrate her 35th anniversary with the institution.
Watching her mom work shifts that had her home at 5 p.m. some days and at midnight others didn't dilute Alexis' interest.
"I was probably thinking about nursing by about sixth grade," she said. Then, when she was about 17, an incident while Alexis was working part-time at a Columbus grocery store reinforced her inclination.
"I'll never forget, this man came in. He was a regular. He looked funny, his face was droopy and he didn't have control of his left arm; his speech was slurred," Alexis recalled. "I knew he was having a stroke. I told the manager to call 911. We got him help in enough time so he wouldn't have any deficiencies. I knew nursing was for me."
After graduating from New Hope High School in 2015, Alexis attended East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi University for Women, earning an associate's degree in nursing from EMCC in 2019. She is currently a registered nurse in outpatient surgery at Baptist Hospital and plans to resume schooling in the fall to earn her bachelor's degree in nursing at The W.
Jewell is a registered nurse in the emergency room. Her long history with the hospital began in 1983, as a nurses' aid. She received training at EMCC and earned her degree in nursing from MUW. She took up a nursing position with the hospital in Columbus in 1985. She takes great pride in the fact that one of her children entered the profession as well.
"Alexis is an awesome daughter. ... I knew she would make a good nurse because she is very loving and compassionate," said Jewell. "She loved geriatrics; when she was in high school she volunteered at a nursing home."
Sharing in the same career and working in the same hospital is meaningful to both women.
"I think it's very rewarding," said Alexis. "She can teach me a lot of things that she's already been through and seen. She can teach me what to expect in different situations."
In unusual times
At almost no time in modern history has the nursing profession had such a high profile and such a critical role than now, during the novel coronavirus pandemic. It has called upon all the skills and empathy medical professionals, including Jewell and Alexis, can provide.
"The biggest challenge for our nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients has been helping their families stay in communication with their loved ones," said Chief Nursing Officer Mary Ellen Sumrall of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. "Being physically separated from their family members or friends is heartbreaking. It is also very painful for our nurses who believe very strongly in the healing power of touch."
Sumrall continued, "It is crucial to our nurses that they convey to family members that their loved ones are not left alone and secluded from all human contact while they are in isolation. Our nurses feel a huge responsibility to make sure these patients are comforted and feel like they have not been left alone."
Caring for and reassuring patients and family members who may feel stressed is important to both Jewell and Alexis, and to others they work alongside.
"We come together well. We're stronger together, the whole Baptist family -- we are totally a family," remarked Jewell.
On this Mother's Day especially, parent and child know compassion will always be at the center of their shared interest in taking care of others.
"Going into nursing like my mom means the world to me, because the love that my mom has for people, I can see it within myself," said Alexis. "She's compassionate ... I strive to be like that every day, to be my mom's personality twin, you could call it."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.