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News | Nov. 16, 2023

Walter Reed Salutes Perioperative Nurses

By Bernard S. Little

Retired Army Lt. Col. Kristine Timmerman, a perioperative nurse at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, simply says she became a nurse, “to serve.” That sentiment is shared among many of the Walter Reed nurses who ensure that each patient’s surgical journey at “The President’s Hospital” is as comfortable and safe as possible.

“I enjoy helping patients restore their level of functioning and activity,” said Timmerman, a Michigan native who does total joint procedures as a member of the operating room teams at Walter Reed.

It’s because of the desire of Timmerman and her colleagues to compassionately serve their patients that Perioperative Nurse Week is celebrated every year during November. This year, the observance is Nov. 12-18 to recognize the dedication, contributions, and achievements of perioperative nurses who handle patient care before, during, and after surgical procedures and are irreplaceable at Walter Reed.

Navy Lt. Maurice Hill, who hails from New Orleans, is also one of the perioperative nurses at Walter Reed. He explains that his mother inspired him  to become a nurse.

“She’s retired, but worked for over 30 years as a nurse,” Hill shared. “Her passion and the patience she had to work in the emergency room, in addition to the way she raised my sister and I, are inspiring.” He added that what he finds most rewarding about nursing is the care he’s he can  provide to patients.

“Being a nurse is selfless service, the ability and opportunity to provide for and take care of others during their most vulnerable position in life,” Hill explained. “Just being there to have someone who the patient trust and entrust with the care that’s expected, is truly a blessing,” he said.

Jacqueline Ogunjulugbe, assistant service chief of OR nurses at Walter Reed, is a retired Army colonel who served in uniform from 1989 to 2016. “We had to be in Iraq for a year, and just taking care of all of the wounded service members that we did while there was so rewarding. They didn’t have any family there, so we were their family. We would embrace them, and they us. I would pray with them before they would go to sleep.”

“I always wanted to become a nurse, even as a little girl,” Ogunjulugbe said. “I grew up in Jamaica with my grandmother, and I loved taking care of her.” She explained this carried over into wanting to take care of others, and she’s been an OR nurse since 1985 after beginning her career as a medical-surgical nurse.

She shared another rewarding experience in her career.

“One day, I had a patient who came in with a blood clot in his leg and the leg was blue. It was a vascular case,” Ogunjulugbe recalled. “When we put the stent in and cleared out the clot, we could see the pink coming back into the leg, and that was so rewarding. I thought, ‘Wow, we saved his leg!’ I felt so good, and that was something I’ll never forget.”

Tiffany Madison is also an OR nurse at Walter Reed who served her country in uniform. She served in the Air Force and the Army before becoming a civilian nurse at Walter Reed. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and I’ve always had a fascination with surgery, which is why I became an operating room nurse,” she shared.

Madison, from Williamsburg, Virginia, said what she finds most rewarding about being a nurse is, “The look on the patient’s face before and after the operation, and knowing that I did a job well done.” She’s been an OR nurse for 23 years and working in the medical field for nearly three decades.

Army Capt. Joseph Pereira, a New York native, became a nurse in 2014 and agrees that the desire to help people is what leads most people to become nurses. He said he was also motivated to become a nurse because he found what surgeons do to help patients interesting. “What they do is amazing, and I just wanted to be closer to it.”

“I also find most rewarding is the look on the patient’s face, especially when it comes to children when I’m able to comfort them and give them a hand to hold before surgery. I try to ensure them that we’re doing everything we can to take care of them and get them to a better place in their lives.”
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