When Delora Schmidt was in the sixth grade, she participated in a lesson
at school that had students “adopt a grandparent”. Essentially,
these 11-12 year olds would visit their adopted grandparent once a week
and ask them about life, play games and go for walks. Delora’s grandparent
was Theresa, and she left quite an impression on a young Delora.
Now a nurse (for the past 18 years), Delora says she loves being there
for people—patients, visitors, and staff alike.
“I want to make patients comfortable when they are here,” she
says. “People want to be listened to and validated. We need to remember
that our patient’s feel vulnerable when they are here. They have
lost some control, depending on what their illness is, and they can be
in a great deal of pain—they can also be feeling scared and lonely.”
Delora’s favorite patients are often the ones who come across as
crabby or difficult, or just have a harsher personality. “They have
a story, too—they have fears and feelings like everyone else. They
just show it differently and often protect themselves in this manner.
I like to try to get through their protective shell and make them smile
or laugh. Laughter is healing.”
It’s this caring approach to patients and work ethic that has earned
Delora a Legend Award. For those who don't know, CCH defines a Legend
as, “those people who have left a permanent impression on our minds
because of their deeds and actions. Ongoing demonstration of hard work,
compassion, and a reputation for greatness make someone a legend.”
Delora, RN, BSN, grew up in Beulah, ND and became as a nursing aide at
a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA) at the age of 15. She attended
college at the
Medcenter One College of Nursing in Bismarck, ND. During her three years of college, she worked as a CNA
on a Medical/Surgical Unit. Some nine years ago, her family moved to Gillette
where she took a job working in
Maternal Child (Labor and Delivery) at Campbell County Health and moved throughout
the organization, working in the
Emergency Department (ED), and the
Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Today, Delora works as a House Supervisor, and will often pick
up shifts throughout the hospital when needed, which helps keep her “humble
and grounded” as a nurse, she says.
For those who don’t know, House Supervisors are go-to managers who
have a bird’s-eye view of the hospital—they essentially know
what’s happening throughout the organization at all times, and know
who to contact or follow up with to make sure everything is working smoothly.
Because Delora has worked all over in CCMH (and at her previous jobs)
she has developed strong leadership skills. “With her knowledge
base, she is a valuable resource to staff,” says Anne Raga, CCH
Director of Nursing. “Delora is often the first person who comes
to mind when someone needs advice. People know that she will be level-headed
yet compassionate, and help identify the best course of action.”
“That’s the great thing about nursing; you can experience so
many different ways to practice this career by working in different areas.
My father always told me not to get stuck in one spot and I think this
experience makes me a well-rounded nurse,” she says. And, she has
some advice for new nurses: “Think like a buffalo as a new nurse—take
things head on. Take the hardest patients, dive into the most difficult
situations because that’s what makes you learn and grow. Get uncomfortable.
Be compassionate and treat every patient like they are your family.”
Delora is the true definition of a light in this world. When she walks
into the room, it’s obvious because if you look around, you’ll
see several people’s faces light up. “She brings joy with
her,” says Sherry Bailey, ICU Manager. “Her humor and zest
for life are unmatchable. I appreciate her ability to communicate with
everyone, especially in stressful or difficult situations.”
Joy is a big word in Delora’s life. “I’ve been through
a life-threatening surgery—I’ve experienced pain and uncertainty.
I understand what it’s like to be on that side—a patient—and
it teaches you compassion,” Delora says of her experience with brain
surgery. “I’ve learned that the little things in life, really
need to be the little things. Life is too short. These are my goals: don’t
take people for granted, be thankful and don’t complain; see something
positive even in bad situations and keep life priorities in check; and,
of course, be joyful.”
Katie Golinvaux in
Patient and Resident Experience recalls a time when Delora called her after a shift to talk about a mother
of a young, critically ill patient in the ICU who Delora was worried about.
Delora knew that the child was being cared for by an excellent team, but
she also wanted to make sure that the mother was being supported by CCH
staff while her child was ill. “To Delora, nursing is not just a
job; it’s a calling. She serves with her whole heart,” Katie says.
A devout Catholic, Delora says her faith is very important to her. She attends
St. Matthews Catholic Church in Gillette, and participates as a Youth Group Leader to high-school aged
youth and is a Eucharistic Minister and lector for Mass. She also signed
up to chaperone a group of teens on a spiritual pilgrimage to Poland for
World Youth Day in July with Pope Francis. As a teen, Delora traveled to Denver to see
John Paul II for World Youth Day. “When I come to work I pray that
God places me where He needs me. I might be put with a difficult patient,
and I know that there is a purpose in that. It just means that there was
something He wanted me to do. It may be as simple as providing a listening
ear, a smile or encouragement.”
Delora has also volunteered with
Campbell County 4-H as a Club Leader, been a camp nurse, and assisted with numerous other
activities. “I believe that 4-H teaches kids’ work ethic,
public speaking, education, research and other life-skills that they can
take with them throughout life. I liked helping them find something to
be proud of,” she says.
Delora is married to Brian, who has been with her since she was 15 years
old—they’ve been married for 19 years. They have three children:
Natalia, 16; Jazlyn, 14; and Levi, 10. “I have a pretty cool family.
We’re always having fun and pranking one another. I’m thankful
and proud of my husband and children.” Her family enjoys spending
time together. Their favorite activities are participating in rodeos,
riding horses in the mountains, camping and having any kind of fun in
Thank you, Delora for your contagious laugh and your uniquely compassionate
approach to caring for our patients. You have left a permanent impression
in this organization and in our community. Congratulations.