Courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana • June 21, 2020
By Chas Reilly
Sometimes you just have a calling.
For Jamie Pritchard, that calling was to health care.
“I always said, since I was little, I wanted to be a nurse,” said Pritchard, director of wound care at Symphony Chesterton, a transitional care and assisted living facility.
She said she isn’t sure what attracted her to nursing as a girl. Pritchard even tried out other fields, including marketing, law and banking, but she always came back to medicine.
“I was just destined to be a nurse,” said Pritchard, who has been chosen a top nurse in the Region by peer review.
Pritchard has worked in a variety of specialties, including the emergency room, obstetrics and neonatal intensive care.
“Every area of nursing is different,” said Pritchard, who studied at Brown Mackie College.
She said she was attracted to wound care, in which she has spent more than 10 of her 15 years in nursing, because of the education aspect associated with it.
Pritchard enjoys explaining to patients what needs to be done to wounds and why. Through that process, it helps her relate to her patients, and it can put them more at ease when they have a clear understanding of what is happening.
“Her commitment to wound care is an inspiration to many,” said Samantha Mahoney, a nurse at Symphony Chesterton. “She developed our wound department into a successful healing environment with an emphasis on patient and family education.”
That instruction extends to the nursing staff, as well.
“She took away my fears of starting in a brand new area of nursing and built up my confidence and self-esteem and rekindled my love of the profession,” Mahoney said. “She took me under her wing and taught me the foundation of wound care and continues to work close with me daily to show me all she knows.”
Mahoney said she views Pritchard as a mentor.
“She is a blessing in my life and her patients’ lives,” Mahoney said. “I am honored to have gotten the opportunity to learn from Jamie, and look to her as a role model for what I strive to be in the future.
“She is a compassionate, highly skilled, knowledgeable team player and demonstrates the true definition of a patient advocate,” Mahoney added.
“People don’t always understand how hard nurses work,” said Pritchard.
Their status as the backbone of health care is especially apparent during the coronavirus crisis.
“Every night we lay in bed thanking God we made it through another day,” Pritchard said. “We wake up every morning with the thought of, ‘Is today the day it’s going to affect me?’
“I wear a mask every day now. I wear my scrubs, my nurses shoes. Then, I cover my scrubs and shoes with a gown and shoe covers,” she said. “My hair is covered. I have goggles.”
The precautions don’t stop at work. She calls her house while in the car to make sure her 3-year-old and her dog stay away when she walks in.
She immediately changes into a robe after getting home and tosses her work clothes into the washer. After taking a shower, she can then spend time with her family.
“This is the new normal for all health care providers,” Pritchard said.
Despite having several job offers, Pritchard knew she belonged at Symphony at first sight.
“We support each other. We build each other up. We cheer each other’s successes,” Pritchard said. “We are a family, we are Symphony strong.”
It’s this and other positives such as community support that are getting Pritchard through the pandemic challenge.