Paper names Jenea Goddard, R.N., C.C.R.N., one of Wyoming’s Top Nurses

By Kristy Bleizeffer May 6, 2019

Jenea Goddard, R.N., is nurse manager of our Intensive Care Unit. The Casper Star-Tribune selected her as one of Wyoming's Top Nurses for 2019.
Jenea is an advocate for critical care and life saving interventions. When my family member was a patient in the ICU Jenea checked on us and made sure we were all comfortable. In high stress and anxiety moments when you don’t know if your loved one will live or die, Jenea comes along with a soft smile and tender demeanor that brings comfort to those in her unit. — Connie Coleman, CNO

When an organ donor gives the ultimate gift, the occasion is often bittersweet.

One one hand, it means several, sometimes a dozen or more, of the thousands of people waiting for organ, tissue or eye donations may get the life-changing call they've been waiting. 

On the other, it usually means someone is losing a beloved friend or family member. 

Jenea Goddard, R.N.,wants every donor family to leave Wyoming Medical Center feeling supported and appreciated. The Intensive Care Unit nurse manager organized our Walk of Honor tributes for every donor family who wants one.

During a walk, operators call "Code Gift: Walk of Honor" over our loud speakers and anyone who can lines the halls of the ICU or other hospital unit in tribute. It means an organ donor has given the gift of life, and as their body leaves our facility, and a Walk of Honor allows staff not directly involved in the donor's care to pay their respects.

"It is a beautiful and moving sendoff, filled with honor and respect, and Jenea makes it happen," said Connie Coleman, WMC's Chief Nursing Officer. Coleman nominated Jenea for the Casper Star-Tribune’s Wyoming’s Top Nurses awards. 

Jenea is one of 10 nurses honored in the newspaper's awards, and one of five from Wyoming Medical Center. In celebration of National Nurses Week, we’ll share our interview with each of WMC’s winners each day this week.

Jenea, who is a certified Critical Care Registered Nurse, is manager of both WMC’s Intensive Care Unit and W.A.R. Room (Warning Arrhythmia Response Room). She also chairs the hospital’s Caring Coalition and Donor Resource Team. She explains what good nursing means to her in the interview below.

How did you get into nursing?

I have always wanted to be a nurse, ever since I was a little girl.  There was no defining moment I just always wanted to be a nurse.  One of my grandmas was a nurse, and I would always ask her about her day and what cool things she got to see and do. My other grandma volunteered at the hospital and nursing home. I would go with her sometimes to see the patients.  I have always just wanted to help people. 

I have been a nurse now for 28 years this month.

I was born and raised in Wheatland, and I went to Laramie right after high school and got my BSN (Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing). I lived there for a while and worked at Ivinson Memorial Hospital until we transferred here with my husband’s job.  I took almost two years off to settle with the kids.

How many kids do you have?

Three daughters, two of which work here at Wyoming Medical Center. One is a nurse now, she just graduated last May. The other is a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and is in nursing school at Casper College. I love getting to see my family every single day, so being able to come to work and know that I will probably be able to see them, or maybe eat lunch with them, is awesome.  I am very proud of all of my girls.

How long have you worked at Wyoming Medical Center?

This time, I have been here since 2001.  I worked here back in 1991, 1992 and then left. I came back in 2001 and have been here ever since. 

After all this time, do you still like your job?

Absolutely. I love being a nurse.  I wouldn’t want to be anything else.  People who know that two of my three daughters are in nursing ask me: “Didn’t you warn them?”  I would never deter anyone away from being a nurse if that is what they wanted to do.  I think it is a great profession. The best!

I love taking care of people and making a difference somehow. The outcome may not always be good, but if I can make any type of difference, whether it is just sitting and listening to them or offering a warm blanket, if I can make them as comfortable as possible and I know they are cared for, then it is worth it. It is a difficult profession at times for sure, but it is the most rewarding. 

You are chairman of the hospital’s Donor Resource Team. Tell us about that.

One of our main purposes is to bring awareness to organ, tissue and eye donation.  We also study each of the Wyoming Medical Center donor cases to see if we can improve our process for donation. For example, WMC has to call Donor Alliance (the federally-designated Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) for Colorado and Wyoming) on every death to determine whether donation is possible. We look at each case to see if the call was made in time.

We work side-by-side with the teams who come from the transplant centers to harvest organs from donors. I have always been interested in that.  I think maybe it is a coping thing for me to know that if a patient is not going to make it, even though we’ve tried our very best to save them, that their donation will be able to help somebody else.

I have always been involved in the Donor Resource Team. I think it is really important for the whole hospital to be aware that if they do proper eye care when a patient passes away, that it could save the sight for other people.

It’s also important to me because my uncle had a bilateral lung transplant on Aug. 28, 2014 in Phoenix.  He was number 275. There are thousands of people on the organ transplant waiting for an organ, and you don’t realize it even when you do work like mine. Then, all of a sudden, my uncle told me he was being placed on the lung transplant list. It is just surreal.

Have you noticed, in all the years that you’ve worked for awareness and better donation processes in the hospital that the number of eye, tissue and organ donations are going up?

Yes. Wyoming has one of the highest percentages of people who are on the donor registry, so I think that is very cool.  We want to make sure that those that choose to be donors can give that gift of life to others if at all possible.

What does Wyoming Medical Center do for donors and their families?

We really try to give anything we can back to the family.  It is such a tragedy when you lose a loved one. One thing I have always loved to do is make handprints for donor families. I remember one specific patient who really got to me. He was a young guy with a wife and two little boys, and he passed away around Thanksgiving. It was heartbreaking. I went and bought some canvas material and paint, and we made pillowcases and wall hangings with his handprints on them for his little boys and wife.

The ICU will do Plaster of Paris prints or paint hand prints if families want them. We always ask permission from the families, but we have never been turned down.  We also do lots of thumbprints which families can make into jewelry and other keepsakes. We print out a strip of the patient’s heart rhythm and give it to their loved ones a well.

Wyoming Medical Center staff members line the halls of the ICU for a recent Walk of Honor, waiting for the organ donor and their family leave the facility.

And tell us about the Walks of Honor for donor families.

In the last couple of years, we offer donor family members the chance to raise the flag each time the ICU has an organ donor and we keep it flying throughout the process – from donation to transplant.

Within the last six to nine months, we started the Walks of Honor to really honor the families and donors for the gift of life that they are giving. We used to do most of the organ recovery here in our Operating Room, but Wyoming Medical Center is the first hospital in Wyoming to team up with the Donor Alliance team and really try to coordinate flying certain donors to the recovery center in Colorado, which is closer to the transplant hospitals. So we wanted a way to really honor these donors before they left our hospital or went to our Operating Room.

The Walk of Honor is our way of getting closure for ourselves and also to show the family support through this process. Now, we announce it overhead: “Walk of Honor, Code Gift,” and staff throughout the hospital can come and fill the hallways of ICU as the patient is transported out of the hospital or to the OR. It is an amazing sight to see when the hallways are lined with staff from all over the hospital showing thanks to the donor and supporting the family.  Families that have experienced this have given very positive feedback and thanks for the support.

A recent Walk of Honor lined the hallway all the way from our ICU to the Center Elevators.

What are some misconceptions people have about organ, eye and tissue donation?

Some are worried if their loved one is a donor that they will not be able to have an open casket funeral.  That is not true. They are able to use prosthetics and such so open casket is still an option. One thing we always tell people is organ donation is not going to harm any funeral arrangements.

Other misconceptions are people think they are too old or too sick to be donors. There may be some organs or some tissue that some people won’t be able to donate, but there is always a possibility that you can give something.

What else are you involved in at WMC?

I am chair of the Caring Coalition. That was a coalition that started way back in 2006, when I and two other WMC nurses went to a two-week, 14-day straight class to become certified in Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring. Jean Watson is an amazing lady, an amazing nurse, and we went to learn her theory and bring it back to WMC. After the end of every day we would go back to our little apartment we were renting and talk about all the cool things that we thought we could do here. That’s where the Caring Coalition came from, and Patty Leglar was the head of it for many years until she retired. Then it kind of fell by the way side a little bit.

It was always something I loved doing and I knew we couldn’t just let all the work we’ve done over the years go to waste. So, I got few people back together, and we decided to try it again.

Now, we host Caring Teas once a quarter where people can learn about the Theory of Human Caring and we can talk about how to incorporate into our work. It’s about truly caring for the patient as well as yourself. 

And you also went back to school, correct?

In September 2017, I started my Master’s degree. I am hoping to be done by August this year.

I have one more paper and then my capstone project.

Why go for the master’s at this point?

That is a good question.  I never thought I would.  I thought having my bachelor’s was amazing and I am glad I did it.  I told myself I would never go back to school.  Going back for my Masters is a challenge and when I am done it will be a great accomplishment.

My husband, Calvin, has given me amazing support in both my career as well as getting my master’s degree. 

Did you always want to work in intensive care?

I have always been interested in critical care areas. After graduating, I started out on a medical/surgical floor in Laramie at Ivinson Memorial Hospital (IMH), and when I moved here, for a brief time I was on a medical/surgical floor. I really just wanted to get my foundation in nursing and critical thinking skills before I moved on.  Then, when I moved back to Laramie, I went to a telemetry floor and slowly moved into the ICU from there.

IMH is a smaller hospital, and all our STEMIs and other complicated cases went to either Cheyenne or Fort Collins.  They needed nurses to ride in the ambulance with the patients so I did that and loved it.

When we moved to Casper, I applied for the Telemetry Unit.  I worked there for a couple years as I attended Advanced Critical Care classes and worked my way into ICU. 

I love the intensity of Intensive Care. I know people say, “Oh, you only have two patients to take care of,” but it is like taking care of many more patients sometimes. You have multiple IV lines going with all kinds of IV medications to titrate, you have ventilators, and many other treatments and tests going on, you have to balance things with that patient and then you have another patient next door with just as many lines and tubes, but you have to manage them totally different because how each patient reacts to the medications or what is going on with them.  So you just have to always be on your toes and thinking ahead, never getting behind the eight ball. I love that part of it.

How do you feel about working at Wyoming Medical Center?

I am very proud of working at Wyoming Medical Center.  I love this place. When I lived in Laramie, I was devastated when we had to move because I am just one who likes to settle and I like to make places my home. I think wherever you go, it can be a great place, you can love it or you can hate it, attitude is 99 percent. You should always make the best out of where you are and what you do.  I think we have amazing teamwork here.  We have each other’s backs, and when things go bad, we come together and really support each other. 

I love that Wyoming Medical Center takes care of people from all over the state. I also love that Wyoming Medical Center can do so many things.  We get people from big cities who come in and they are amazed at the care we give here and the things we can do here. I love hearing from nurses who have worked in our ICU and now they are traveling somewhere or they work somewhere else, and they tell me that Wyoming Medical Center is still the best. 

How do you feel about winning this nursing award? Knowing that someone took the time to nominate you?

I am just very humbled.  I love being a nurse and I love bedside nursing. I also love being a manager and taking care of the staff as well.  I really love going out every day and seeing the patients, families, and the staff. To be recognized is amazing, and I am honored and very humbled because I love what I do.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WMC NOMINEES

In all, 31 nurses from Wyoming Medical Center were nominated by their peers and/or patients for the Casper Star-Tribune’s Wyoming’s Top Nurses 2019. Congratulations to all of them!

Brenda Jennings, R.N., Surgical Staging Area; Chantel Thomas, R.N., East Campus Surgical Unit manager; Bonnie Norris, R.N., Surgical Unit; Kristl James, R.N., Medical Unit; Stephanie Lovelett, R.N., Surgical Unit; Katelyn Goff, R.N.; Emergency Department; Sarah Peak, R.N., Advantage Orthopedics and Neurosurgery; Jennifer Gallagher, R.N., Mother & Baby; Connie Coleman, R.N., Chief Nursing Officer; Amy Vincent, R.N., Neuro Unit; Nicole Porter, R.N., Neuro Unit; Melissa King, R.N., Intensive Care Unit; Kerry Moyd, R.N., Emergency Department; Lorri Harford, R.N., Intensive Care Unit; Corrine Arross, R.N., Emergency Department manager; Monica Rogers, R.N., Surgical Staging Area/Intensive Care Unit; Ginger Sims, R.N., Progressive Care Unit; Amber Kidd, R.N., Mother & Baby; Christine Rogers, R.N., Medical Unit; Abby Redden, R.N., Mother & Baby; Becky Fleming, R.N., Trauma Data Analyst; Lathyn Garcia, R.N., Mother & Baby; Sukhy Kaur, R.N., Surgical Unit; Chyanna Esau, R.N., Surgical Unit; Jenea Goddard, R.N., Intensive Care Unit manager; Jennifer Kuras, R.N., Mother & Baby; Sausha Hernandez, R.N., Case Management; Holly Sasser, R.N., Progressive Care Unit; Colin Gransbery, R.N., Cardiac Cath Lab; Tamara Thomson, R.N., Neuro Unit manager; and Kristin Olsen, R.N.; Intensive Care Unit