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Jody Leonard, RN, Selected as a Top 10 Celebrating Nurses Honoree

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Jody Leonard, RN, Selected as a Top 10 Celebrating Nurses Honoree

Southern Regional proudly announces that Jody Leonard, RN, Emergency Department, was celebrated on May 11 as one of the Atlanta Journal Constitution's 2021 Celebrating Nurses Top 10 Honorees. This recognition is truly an honor with Jody being selected from nearly 1,200 nurse nominees from across the state.

Her nomination was submitted by a manager who wrote:

I would like to recommend Jody Leonard for recognition relating to a very impactful and extended patient interaction that I have been following over time.  While working in the Emergency Department, Jody met and performed triage screening on a 57yr-old female who presented to the ED for breast pain. On exam, the patient was found to have an open draining wound on her breast which appeared to be cancerous and related that she had been tentatively diagnosed several months prior with breast cancer at another ED in the area and referred to a specialist. She had been unable to follow up due to insurance issues and could not afford the specialty care required. Due to the lack of receiving the specialty care, her situation had worsened over several months which left the patient despondent and hopeless to the point where she had actually attempted suicide.

On this ED visit, Jody heard her story and took meaningful action on behalf of the patient. The normal role of the triage nurse is to briefly screen and sort the patient into a treatment queue and move on quickly to the next patient. Jody took a different path this day, and didn't simply move on to the next task. Utilizing both her nursing heart and her knowledge of the healthcare system, Jody formed a real human connection and made an investment in this patient's future by working some emergency improvised case management. Jody connected the patient to the financial counseling team and helped enroll her into a Medicaid HMO plan that would assist with some healthcare cost coverage. Then Jody took things a step further and using her network of colleagues obtained a quick appointment for the patient with well-respected breast surgeon, Dr .Janine Pettiford. Within four days, the patient started receiving the comprehensive, expert specialty care she needed.

After months of pain, fear, and despondency, the patient was able to begin treatment for her life-altering condition. It was, unfortunately, confirmed to be breast cancer, but now the patient has a higher chance for a better outcome and quality of life. The patient is now postoperative and undergoing a chemotherapy series. 

Without Jody's intervention it seems doubtful that this progress would have been made. Neither the patient nor her family had the knowledge or expertise to navigate the complex healthcare system. Jody took it upon herself to be that patient's advocate and leveraged her personal and professional relationships with the other members of the healthcare team to both obtain the required resources for the patient and to speed up the process as she knew the patient was literally running out of time.

Jody has kept in touch and follows up with the patient since her visit in our ED. And though the patient is still in treatment, she is improving in mind, body and spirit. This is but one amazing story I can tell regarding Jody Leonard. She has a genuine passion for the work of nursing and sincerely cares for her patients. Just as important, she makes the effort to turn that emotion into action and her patients directly benefit from her interventions.

The entire Southern Regional team congratulates Jody on receiving this well-deserved recognition.