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Patient leaves behind a message of gratitude

Bellingham | May 14, 2020
Mattie Petersen and Vicki Lincoln-Rowson
Tucked among Jeff Petersen's personal effects was a special card for a nurse who made a special impression.

Family members and caregivers alike remember Jeff Petersen as a kind man with a gentle soul, a wonderful sense of humor and a positive outlook.

As he battled cancer and numerous medical complications for several years, Jeff always expressed utmost appreciation for the caregivers who looked after him. He passed away on March 24, 2020, at age 60, leaving behind one final message of gratitude.Jeff Petersen

Tucked in with his belongings that came home from the hospital was a Daisy award nomination for nursing excellence.

Jeff had completed the nomination to recognize nurse Vicki Lincoln-Rowson, RN, BSN who had provided care for him during his final hospital stay at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Wash.

Always appreciative

“If anybody knew extraordinary care, Jeff did,” says his wife Mattie, who discovered the completed recognition form. “Jeff was a large man who needed help getting up and had wounds that needed dressing. He was always appreciative of the care he received.”

During Jeff’s hospital stay earlier this year, Vicki prepared him to leave his room for radiation treatment and as she did, she related her own previous experience with cancer 25 years ago.

I’ll pray for you

“I’m a cancer survivor and was able to share that with Jeff,” Vicki says. Just before a hospital transporter wheeled him out of his room for radiation treatment, she told Jeff, “I’ll pray for you.”

Vicki says, “I pray for all my patients – that they get better or are comforted. Jeff was very kind, very thankful for anything the team did for him. He had a sense of humor through all he was going through.”

When writing about his experience, Jeff wrote on Vicki’s nomination form, “It was my best day.” 

A role model for compassionate care

Vicki demonstrates PeaceHealth nursing at its best. She has spent most of the last 44 years working as a nurse and the last 13 years caring for patients at PeaceHealth St. Joseph.

“I was five years old when I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she says. Following a personal experience as a patient when she was 12, Vicki says, “I knew I wanted to be like the nurses who were kind, compassionate and gave good care to me.”

Assistant Nurse Manager Korene Hungate, RN, BSN, who has worked with Vicki for nearly 12 years, attests to Vicki’s dedication: “Vicki really takes the time to do the research needed to understand her patients. She’s very thorough and cares deeply about each patient. Her interaction with Jeff is a great example of who she is.”

Pictures herself there

Throughout the years, Vicki has compassionately cared for thousands of patients. Each time, she pictures herself in a hospital bed and imagines how she would want to be treated.

Vicki explains, “I try to listen and meet people where they are at. Compassionate care starts within your heart. That’s what I see on our floor – nurses working with all their hearts to help people feel better.”

Mattie Petersen witnessed how the skill and compassionate care of her late husband’s clinical team made a difference in his life.

She says, “Jeff loved everyone who took care of him. It didn’t take long for them to see the special man that he was,” Mattie says.

“I can’t remember everyone on Jeff’s care team, but I see their faces and hear their voices. God bless you all. Thank you!”

Photo of Jeff Petersen, courtesy of Mattie Petersen.

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