Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

No time for cards - just caring


May 1, 2019

In response to Washington State Sen. Maureen Walsh’s comment that rural nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” I would ask Walsh and anyone else to spend time with rural nurses to discover what they really do for a considerable amount of the day and/or night.

I have been in healthcare in an administrative function for the better part of 35 years. I have had loved ones hospitalized with life-threatening situations, I have been cared for by nurses and nursing techs myself and I feel compelled tell you what I have observed.

I have seen nurses spend their days and nights without meals, rest and bathroom breaks. I observed them taking a brief minute to cry from exhaustion and then stand up to care for the next patient. I have seen too many times when a nurse or tech hugs and weeps with a family that has lost a loved one. And I have watched them do the same alone so the family does not see them struggle when their patient receives a bad diagnosis.

I have too many memories of emergency department nurses standing in a pool of blood while they and the doctors struggle to save the life of an accident victim. Day and night, 24/7 — and not one deck of cards in the entire hospital.

I have heard the distinct sound of a helicopter rotor in the middle of the night delivering a critical patient to a level one trauma center or going to a remote automobile crash or farm or ranch accident. One flight after another until all patients are in a safe place to be treated by other expert nurses. I have never seen nor heard of a helicopter or ambulance with a deck of cards in the trauma pack.

Our nurses spend 10 to 12 hours a day on their feet caring for very ill patients. Not only the patients but the patient’s family and friends. They give medications, treat wounds, and care for the physical and emotional needs of patients and families. If they have the opportunity to sit, it is to hold the hand and comfort a person in pain or distress. They do so with unsurpassed compassion, love and expertise.

Ask a nurse when they knew they wanted to be a nurse and they will tell you, “all my life.” They are true professionals that I trust with my life and the life of my most precious loved ones.

No decks of cards exist in this world — just dedication and a life of service.

These are the nurses that I know.

Richard L. Smith is chief executive at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis and Dr. Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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