The goal of Campbell County Health’s Excellence Every Day mission
is that every patient, resident, employee, or customer that each member
of the organization encounters experiences the best of CCH. In the words
of Deb McMurtrey, RN, CMSRN, it means that every staff member “makes
a difference in the care that our customers experience with us; they trust
CCH to do a good job and will return to the organization for more care
in the future.”
Walk the halls of the
Medical/Surgical Unit at Campbell County Memorial Hospital, and ask anyone about Deb, you’ll
likely hear that Deb embodies this mission, which she will tell you that
she’s lived her entire life.
“Each person she serves with the kindest heart and the sweetest spirit,” says
Mary Barks, Patient & Resident Experience Director. “Whether Deb is holding
the hand of a patient who is in pain, or celebrating co-workers accomplishments,
or helping someone find their way in the hospital, Deb’s sincerity
and compassion comes through in her eyes, her touch and her words. Deb
LIVES Excellence Every Day, each and every day.”
Deb, a clinical supervisor on Med/Surg, was recently awarded Campbell County
Health’s most prestigious award, the Legend Award. For those who
don't know, CCH defined 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.”
Deb’s inspiration to become a nurse came as a child when she watched
her grandmother receive care from nurses in a small Nebraska hospital
where they lived. “I was determined that I would be smarter and
kinder than the nurses my grandma had,” she says. And she is.
Deb graduated from a three year diploma school in Hastings, Neb., in 1974.
She was crowned the nurse with the most TLC when she graduated—a
top achievement that earned her a few minutes of fame on the local television
channel. She went on to work at a hospital in Valentine, Neb., and met
her future husband, Dr. George McMurtrey (Dr. Mac), who brought her to
Gillette in 1978 when he started the hospital’s first Emergency
Department. Deb took a job at Med/Surg when she arrived, and has stayed
in that department for 30 years.
Medical/Surgical nurses practice in a stimulating, and demanding, setting.
Many will say it’s not for the faint-hearted, but the work is very
rewarding. Nurses on this unit can care for patients across many age levels,
with a huge variety of disease categories or injuries, and with different
degrees of acuity.
“I’ve often heard coworkers say, ‘I have no life.’
And I just chuckle and say to them, ‘Of course you don’t,
you’re a nurse,” said Deb.
Nursing, according to Deb, is checking your own personal problems at the
door when you walk in to do your job. “We are here to care for our
patients. With patients who are at the end of their life, we are their
last gift of comfort and caring; you are also there for the family members
who may need help. A nurse also celebrates with the patients who recover
and go home—you have to give them the confidence to keep their recovery
going, and return to their healthy life. If you start the day off complaining
about what’s happening with you, or worried about the issues you
are personally facing, then you’re not there for your patients,” she says.
So what helped get Deb through 30 years on such a busy floor? A little
tune that goes something like this: “It’s my job and I like
It was “assigned” to her by Dr. K Patel, who also told her
one very solid piece of advice: There are two things that people care
about—that you smile at them and that you’re nice to them.
Deb has added to that advice, saying that: “The patient doesn’t
care how many degrees you have, they just want you to smile, show them
that you care, and that you recognize that they went through a lot.”
“Deb always finds something that is personal to her patients that
make them feel good about being in her care,” says Shawn Holland,
CCMH House Supervisor. “She is a great mentor for new nurses and
shows true passion and love for nursing.”
Earlier in July, Deb was recognized in a
Thanks for working here Thursday post on
Facebook, and the response was overwhelmingly positive—with more than 25
comments and hundreds of “likes”. Here is a taste of what
fellow nurses and community members said about their experience with Deb:
Julie Asheim Tarter: What an amazing lady. Thank you, Deb, for all that you do, and for all
that you have taught me and all the other nurses who have been blessed
to have an opportunity to work with you, and learn all that you have to
share. You are truly an amazing woman, and I am honored to have been able
to work with you and learn from you.
Sandy Ford-Fernandez: One of the reasons I am the nurse I am today is because of Deb and all
that she taught me all those years ago. She is by far one of the greatest
nurses I have ever worked with.
Kadie Donaldson: There are not words to truly describe how great a person Deb is or how
she can make a person feel. I was truly blessed to work with and be mentored
by this amazing nurse. The words of wisdom and inspiration, the kind soft
and steady hands of healing, the heart of compassion and understanding.
Thank you Deb for all you have done for me and this community.
Deb commented that one of the things that she enjoys the most about working
on Med/Surg is watching the new nurses grow. “It recharges my heart
to see them succeed and become these great nurses that I’d be more
than happy to have them take care of me,” she says.
She also credits her successes to the many mentors that she had, which
include Mary Barks, Jonni Belden, Baerbel Merrill, Anne Raga, a variety of
doctors and even CEO’s like Andy Fitzgerald.
Deb was married to Dr. Mac, the love her life, for almost 40 years. Together,
they raised three beautiful children: Amanda, who lives in Laramie; Samantha,
who lives in Walla Walla, Washington, and has a 3-year old son named Micah;
and George, who lives in Gillette. When she’s not working, she loves
to spend time with her children and grandchildren.
Thank you Deb for being such a legendary nurse, a beautiful person and
a friend to everyone you meet! You have left a permanent impression in
this organization and in our community. Congratulations.