Heather Olson, RN - Neuro-Telemetry Unit, Citrus Memorial Hospital
Heather Olson became a nurse to honor her grandmother. She is recognized with a Nurses Appreciation Award because of her ability to connect with her patients, coworkers, and physicians.
“My grandmother went to nursing school but had to come home because her mother was sick. She never got to finish,” Olson said. “As my sister and I were growing up, she often told us about wanting to be a nurse. It motivated us to do it – for our grandmother.”
Olson was raised in Citrus County and graduated from Crystal River High School. She worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse at Citrus Memorial Hospital (CMH) while working for her registered nursing degree, which she earned two years ago. She has worked on the CMH Neuro-Telemetry Unit ever since.
“On this unit, we take care of patients with strokes and heart issues. We do stroke assessments on them and help them through those critical first hours,” she said. “As they improve, we do a lot of education for patients and their families on how to prevent future stroke, or deal with next steps.
“In this county, stroke incidence is high,” she added. “Patients often come in who are not complying with medication instructions and don’t have a lot of knowledge about how to prevent and recognize stroke. We educate them, so they know how to prevent future stroke, so they are not coming in for the same thing.”
“Heather is always seen going the extra mile to take care of her patients,” said her nomination. “She is constantly professional and always has a smile. Patients seem to recognize that, which lets them know that she truly cares. Not only is Heather respectful to her patients, but also to her fellow staff. She is a top-notch nurse and CMH is lucky to have her.”
Mary Jo Barnett, RN, MSN, director of the unit, agrees.
“Heather has an amazing ability to connect with patients and family members that is heartfelt and real,” she said. “She almost always can tell me something personal about her patients because she listens to them. I think that connection helps them feel more comfortable and safer.”
Olson’s own personal experience helped shape her as a nurse.
“I’ve been on the family end of a medical situation, when you don’t get the information you need. It’s frustrating and adds to the stress,” she said. “I remind myself of that when I’m here and patients and their families are asking questions. Even if I don’t know the answers, I’m going to find out and get back to them.”
The unit is successful, Olson notes, in large part because of the strong teamwork among her co-workers. She keeps her patients in mind in dealing with the stress of her job.
“There is a lot of success in this unit because of the team. We jump in when we’re needed to help. Everyone is supportive of each other,” she said. “It’s nice to come to work for that. Days may be stressful and chaotic, but the team and the patients make it worth it.
“The days are hard for me sometimes, but I always remember it’s harder for my patients,” she added. “My stress resets itself. I’m going home at night, but they still have to deal with being sick and in the hospital.”
Olson stayed in Citrus County to be near her family and because she loves the small-town environment. She and her husband, Ricky Scroggins, are raising their two sons on a small farm in Floral City.
“We have horses, cows, and chickens. Our kids ride four-wheelers and dirt bikes and we love to go out on our air boat,” she said. “We love to be outdoors and active. I love this hometown feeling where it seems like you know everybody. It’s what I had growing up and that’s what I want for my kids,” she added.
Olson and her identical twin sister, Haidee Entrekin, both honored their grandmother by becoming nurses. Entrekin works in the CMH Emergency Department. It sometimes leads to confusion.
“I didn’t know Heather had a twin sister until I stopped in the ER a while back. I saw Haidee and thought, ‘why is Heather working in the ER today?’ said Barnett. But Barnett knows Olson’s contributions to her own unit.
“Every day, Heather brings a sheer sincere heart to her work. And, the skill and knowledge she brings completes the package,” she said.
“Some say I’m too bubbly sometimes but it’s all part of the connection,” said Olson. “When physicians come by looking serious, I wave and say hello. I try to make them smile. Every now and then, it works.”
Added Barnett: “That helps our staff get through tough days.”