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Award winner reflect the spirit behind nursing

The Helene Officer award was designated for an employee who reflects the qualities of compassion, caring, professionalism and team spirit
Ask anyone what they expect from a nurse, and you'll likely hear how important it is for a nurse to have a professional attitude, yet exude qualities of compassion and caring. They also expect a nurse to be attentive and capable of addressing their needs promptly and with concern.
   All of these characteristics are reflected in Pioneer Memorial Hospital's Polly Polson, R.N. and undoubtedly were the reasons she was recently recognized by her peers by receiving the Helene Officer Award.
   A familiar figure in Crook County, Polson has been a part of this community since 1978. She spent many years in the School District before taking the plunge into nursing.
   Driven by a desire to help others, Polson stepped into the nursing field after completing her degree at the age of 46. Although many people might be intimidated by the prospects of taking on a whole new career, Polson seems to take it all in stride.
   "The children were grown and gone, so I went back and got my R.N., and got a position here at the hospital," she explained.
   Polson indicated that she was attracted to nursing because it suited her tendency to be a care giver and nursing seemed like a natural way for her to develop this propensity in a professional way.
   "I've always been the person that takes care of people, and nursing offered a nice organized way to keep doing that," she said. "People around here call me the mother hen, and I guess I do mother the nurses a lot, and to me that's just part of care giving."
   Being concerned for patients as well as staff is in keeping with characteristics of the person the award commemorates, Helene Officer.
   Reflecting on the impact one nurse's aide could have on an institution, Polson is joined by Tammy Warren R.N. who worked alongside Helene Officer, almost from the beginning. Using words such as selfless, giving, caring and passionate, they recall the person behind the award.
   "Helene would come in and take ownership of the patient," explained Warren. "She was always investing her own time and money to make sure her patients were comfortable and well cared for."
   In addition to showing extraordinary concern for the patients, she is also remembered for the many fund raisers she organized and conducted in order to purchase medical equipment, thereby helping to improve the quality of care available at the hospital.
    Although Officer died following a long battle with cancer, her legacy is alive and well in the halls of Pioneer Memorial Hospital. In an effort to memorialize not only the person, but the spirit of her commitment to the work, the Helene Officer award was created as a way to keep that energy alive, and to encourage others to strive for the same level of commitment.
   Research shows that the impact care givers have on a patient in a hospital setting can have remarkable influence on a person's ability to recover. For instance, one study of oncology patients who felt they received excellent nursing care showed they were far more optimistic about the future, felt a greater sense of fortitude to recover from an illness, and felt better overall.
   The study also found that nurses reflecting values such as the Officer award celebrates, inspired a sense of "authenticity," helping the patient feel comfortable about being honest and open.
   "We do have really excellent nurses here, and doctors that really care about their patients," Polson said. "And the nurses really are the eyes and the ears for the physician when they can't be here."
   This year's award recipient says that it was amazing for her to realize that the people she works with thought of her on such lofty terms. "There are so many people here that give so much to this hospital," Polson said. "It really is awesome to receive this award, and it's a huge thing to live up to."