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Hardworking, compassionate CNA honored with Legend Award

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  • Written By: Felicia Messimer
Hardworking, compassionate CNA honored with Legend Award

The words used to describe Gemma Monthey in her nomination form were approachable, caring, hardworking, honest, humble, and dedicated.

All adjectives used to describe what Campbell County Health (CCH) calls a Legend.

For those who don't know, CCH defined a Legend as, “those people who have left an indelible 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.”

For 17 years, Gemma has been a certified nursing assistant (CNA) on the Medical Surgical Unit at Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette, Wyoming. Originally from the Philippines, Gemma and her husband, Frank, came to Gillette to spend three years helping the United States Navy find new recruits, and have stayed.

Caregivers on the Medical/Surgical floor practice in a stimulating, and demanding, setting. Many will say it’s not for the faint-hearted, but the work is very rewarding. CNAs and nurses on this unit in the hospital can care for patients across many age levels, with a huge variety of disease categories or injuries, or are recovering from surgery.

As a CNA on the Med/Surg floor, Gemma can be called upon to change linens, help take and record vital signs, help patients to and from the bathroom and other areas, do blood draws, turn and change patients who need it, and more on any given day.

“I do everything but give meds,” Gemma says. “I’ve always loved being a CNA. It’s really a privilege to care for someone, and to work with all the amazing people I work with. I love it here; we’re like family.”

One of those amazing people Gemma works with is Deb McMurtrey, RN, CMSRN—a nurse Gemma also calls her health care hero. Deb also happens to be a CCH Legend.

“If a committee of nurses got together and chose the best qualities for a CNA, they would likely say that we need to clone Gemma. It was a lucky day for CCH when Gemma applied to work as a CNA,” says Deb. “Gemma quietly goes about her day caring for our patients—you never have to worry about your patients when she’s working. She is not afraid to address a problem if she feels it could be improved. She would never expect more out of a coworker than she does of herself.”

Gemma says the best part of working as a CNA is meeting all the different people she meets as patients on Med/Surg. During Gemma’s 16 years of employment at CCH, she has touched many lives, but one stands out in the minds of many of the nurses on the Med/Surg floor: that of a patient diagnosed with leukemia.

This patient received care at CCH over the years for the disease, and the complications that arose from it. When he found out that he had run out of treatment options, he wanted to tell his two “favorite nurses”—Gemma was one of them. He shared that over the years, he had spent months with CCH and Gemma had made it bearable by giving him the only control that he had during his stays. He mentioned that Gemma would talk with him every day and help him on his frequent walks in the hallway. He told CCH that Gemma truly made a difference in his life.

Gemma had made this gentleman’s cancer journey bearable by providing the best care possible and beyond that—she treated him with dignity, respect and compassion.

According to Gemma’s nomination form, which was completed by several nurses on the Med/Surg Unit, she is constantly approaching leadership about ways to improve processes and care for patients at CCH. “She is a great role model for new staff, even helping them understand the importance of their appearance, asking one new nurse who showed up on her first day with wrinkled scrubs, ‘Do you own an iron?’” said Daphne Filbert, MSN, RN, Med Surg Director. And, if you don’t, she’ll get one for you.

“We work in a professional environment, and we need to come to work prepared,” says Gemma. “I take a lot of pride in what I do. I want everyone to get the same great care we can give.”

Gemma’s giving nature isn’t limited to the patients she cares for. Every year for Nurses Day in May, Gemma will create amazing food for the nurses on her floor—a particular favorite from other nursing staff are her eggrolls. They also meet with other Filipino community members, and are sure to welcome anyone new to the community when they arrive.

Gemma also helps her family overseas. Most notably in November 2013, Gemma organized a fundraiser for two of her brothers — and many other relatives she’s never met — who live in the Philippines and were hit by typhoon Haiyan. With some help from other nurses on the Med/Surg unit, Gemma was able to give a large sum to her family to help them rebuild some of what they lost during the storm.

When Gemma is not at work, she and Frank enjoy traveling, going on cruises, hiking in the Black Hills, four wheeling, and shopping. They love to visit their children—two daughters who live in Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho; and two sons who reside in California and Minneapolis, Minn.

“This award really caught me off guard. I’m so honored; words really cannot express how I feel,” says Gemma about receiving the Legend Award, while dabbing a tissue across her face. “I’m very blessed and thankful to have a job here. CCH is my family.”

“Gemma IS excellence every day. We are so lucky to have her as part of our Med/Surg family,” says Daphne.

Thank you, Gemma for providing the very best care you can provide to our patients. You have left a permanent impression in this organization. Congratulations.

  • Category: CCH News, CCMH News, Employee Recognition, Medical/Surgical Unit, Nursing, Legend Award