Caring is the Catalyst for this Nurse

Patsy Ferrell HFWH

As a nurse, you may never know the impact that you’ve had on someone’s life until decades later. Usually, that impact is tied back to one simple act: caring.

This is how it all began for Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital ER nurse Patsy Ferrell, who has been a part of the HFWH family for 36 years. As a high schooler she saw her aunt practice the Culture of Caring (before it was called that) in her job as an RN in a physician’s office. This is what lit her desire to become a nurse.

“She was my idol,” Ferrell recalls. “I watched as she helped people. I wanted to be just like her, taking care of people who were sick, and comforting them and their families.”

Ferrell’s path to nursing was not what one would consider typical. She began her career at HFWH working in the housekeeping department. It was after that when the second part of her decision – to become an ER nurse – occurred.

“When I took my son as a child to the emergency room to have stitches in his chin, I was nervous and very upset because I didn’t know what to expect,” she explains. “The nurse who cared for my son was very kind and caring. He gave me and my son the support we needed to get through that ordeal.

“When people come to the emergency room they are often there for the first time and are very scared of the unknown; or they may have a family member who is very ill and has been to the ER many times. These are the people in need of caring and compassionate people. I felt I could be that person.”

Showing caring and compassion toward patients is the charge for every nurse. But Ferrell takes it further, leading other nurses by example and offering her wisdom in the form of mentorship. Step one, she says is to recognize your humanness – that you will make mistakes, but to learn from them. She feels as though the entire care team at HFWH truly works together in concert much like a family does. This is very special to her and the patients, she says.

“There has always been a family atmosphere at Wyandotte,” Ferrell says. “I think it is also important to make yourself available to listen to others with an open mind, then offer constructive criticism. In time you will know what works and you just do it. Passing this on is very important to the newer employees and for the organization.”

At this point it is hard to imagine the HFWH emergency room without Ferrell. This is good news for patients and care team alike.

“Patsy embodies compassion and caring,” said Toni Silas, the Director of Clinical Operations for the Wyandotte ER. “Her gentle spirit and kind approach to staff, physicians and patients has made her a role model for how care should be delivered in the emergency department. Patsy is the ‘matriarch’ of the department and is respected by all who encounter her – in-house and throughout the community. Patsy does whatever is needed to help patients have the best experience possible under the worst conditions.”