THE GIFT OF CARING Christmas duty warms heart of WH nurse


WHITE HALL — While most people would prefer to be off on Christmas, White Hall’s Hope Jett rates the holiday as her favorite work assignment.

“I’ve worked every Christmas but one since I became a nurse 10 years ago,” the 37-year-old licensed practical nurse said Tuesday afternoon while tending to her duties at White Hall Nursing and Rehab Center. “I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I love working on Christmas.”

Jett, a daughter of Geneva Burnett of White Hall, said a lot of her friends who are near her age don’t always understand why she prefers working with patients who are generally 80 or older.

“Different people like different things,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed working with this age group. I think it started with my dad, who was born in 1921. I appreciate and admire elders. I learn something from them every day. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for elders.”

It’s easy to see that her patients have like affection for her. Jett and her patients often greet one another with smiles as she makes her rounds. Many call her by name and exchange handshakes, hugs or kind words with her. She seemingly has a personal connection to each one, and they obviously regard her as a friend as well as a nurse.

“It breaks my heart to say it, but a lot of the residents here don’t have family who visit them on a regular basis,” Jett said. “So, for a lot of them, I am family. Quality nursing is also about emotional needs, so it doesn’t hurt me to give these folks some extra attention — five minutes to pray with them, 10 minutes to read a church program or even 30 minutes just to listen to their memories or chat about something that might be weighing on their minds.

“I’ve come to realize that it’s my calling,” she said. “Whatever they might need, God uses me to help them. Just knowing someone cares is a powerful thing, and it can lift the person who’s giving the help just as much as it lifts the person who is receiving it.”

Jett, a 1993 graduate of White Hall High School who received her nursing education at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff, said she’s “happy” to be working at the White Hall care facility.

“I’ve got great co-workers and the best supervisors you could ask for,” she said. “It’s the best staff I know of, and my patients here are the best in the world. I’m blessed.”

So what are Jett’s plans for Christmas 2013?

“I wouldn’t want to spend it any other way,” she said. “I try to treat others like it’s Christmas every day, but there is something special about the day that you can truly feel in your heart when it finally arrives each year. So, I hope I’m here again, doing what I feel I’m supposed to be doing.”