THE NOMINATION: Kristie Garrick believes Renae Stroman Hewitt of Cope encompasses all of the qualities and traits that make an exceptional nurse. Through sicknesses and tragedy, the two have developed a close and special bond.
Kristie got to know Renae when she cared for her grandparents during the '90s. In 2007 Kristie received a call about her children being in an accident. When she got to the hospital, it was Renae who was waiting.
“She sat me down and told me that my 10-year-old daughter was pronounced dead from this horrific accident and that my son was in a room and the doctor was examining him. As she told me my daughter was gone, she hugged me and cried right along with me. She did not leave my side or my family’s side. After that day, she was always there for me and my family.”
Years later, when Kristie’s husband was rushed to the hospital and died during surgery, Renae was by her side and cried right along with her again. “She puts everyone first, especially her patients. There needs to be a lot of nurses with the same love and compassion as Renae.”
RENAE HEWITT: Renae and husband Calvin have three children -- Katelyn, Haley and Callie -- and three grandchildren.
"I started working for the Regional Medical Center in 1990 as a student tech and have worked for RMC since except for two of those years when I worked with Dr. John Hutto. I stepped away from the ER more than 10 years ago but continued to work at the Santee Urgent Care and Bamberg Urgent Care, which are owned and operated by RMC.
"After 22 years of working in emergency services, most of that time as a clinical coordinator, I decided it was time to make a change. It was one of the hardest decisions that I had ever made in my nursing career because emergency nursing was all I knew. I decided to transfer to RMC Cardiology-Dr. Hutto and Dr. King, where I am now and have been since November 2017. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how do you like working in a doctor’s office. I say, 'I love it!' I feel like I can be the nurse that I know I am and most of all I feel like I have a whole bunch of grandmamas and granddaddies. I absolutely love all my patients. I have lost a few patients since I started here and it tears me up. Losing a patient will never get easier, but I know in my heart they received the very best care and can only hope that I made a difference in their life."
BECOMING A NURSE: "From a very young age, I always wanted to be a nurse. I took health occupations in high school at COVEC and after getting my CPR/First Aid certification, I immediately knew emergency nursing was where I wanted to be. My grandmother died when I was in high school and one of the last conversations I had with her was her telling me to follow my dreams and get my nursing degree. I graduated from the ADN Nursing Program at OCtech in 1991."
ON BEING SELECTED AS A NURSING HONOREE: "I had seen the Nominate a Nurse on The Times and Democrat site but had not opened and read what was involved. I was at work and was called to the phone and was told ... that I had been nominated and selected to be one of the 10 nursing honorees. I was surprised, speechless and tearful knowing that I had made a difference in someone’s life."
MEMORABLE MOMENTS: "Most of my nursing career I worked in the RMC Emergency Room. I could write a book about the things that I have seen or witnessed. Most of my memories are good, but there are some memories that I will never forget and will haunt me until I die. Living in a small town like Orangeburg my whole life, I know a lot of people and having to tell someone you know tragic news makes that job really tough.
"I have sacrificed so much over the years and missed so many family events, school award programs and many softball games to do what I loved. I would not change a thing and am so thankful that my family always understood.
"I’ve heard for years, 'How do you work in the ER with all that blood?' That is something that has never bothered me. I have always said I could take care of anything as long as it didn’t have to do with eyes! I don’t do eyes, never have and never will. I also jokingly use to say I would rather care for a cardiac arrest instead of a woman giving birth! This has always been a fear of mine."
"Right before I left the ER, I was called outside to the EMS ramp by a paramedic who was leaning into a car. As I walked and looked over the car door, she handed me a screaming newborn that she had just delivered. I will never forget that day because it was snowing outside. I took this screaming naked baby inside, hollered for someone to call the nursery and have a nurse meet me in the hall as I wrapped the baby into a warm blanket and ran down the hallway. I met the nurse and quickly handed over the newborn and she asked me where the mother was? I looked at her and said, 'Who?' She said the mother. I was like, 'Oh, the mother?' All I knew was I wanted that baby where it needed to be and that was in the nursery."
THE HEART OF HEALTH CARE: "Nursing is the heartbeat of health care! They are the ones caring for the patients. Most doctors could not work without nursing. They have to work as a team for a patient to get a good outcome. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many people going into nursing and now the health care system is dealing with a nursing shortage. This puts a lot more additional stress on a nurse while they are caring for your loved one. I am not sure what the answer is to this but my daughter is in the nursing program at OCtech and I made sure this was what she wanted to do. And I also stressed to her that nursing is not a JOB! Nursing is a commitment."
REWARDS/CHALLENGES: "The most rewarding part of being a nurse is watching a patient’s condition improve. That is a great feeling. ... I was awarded Nurse of the Year in 1996 at RMC.
FUTURE: "My future is nursing. Nursing is my life. I am a nurse 24 hours a day! Whether it is at the bedside, at the office, or at home, I will always be a nurse. Even though I don’t work in the ER anymore, I still get multiple calls/texts asking medical advice or asking if I think they need to go to the ER."
"I do love my job working with Dr. Hutto and Dr. King and have no regrets about leaving emergency nursing, but the ER will always be my heart. For the past two years, my father-in-law has become ill and I have also become his caregiver. Nursing is my life and I love it! I could not imagine going to work every day and not loving what you do. Nursing is not a job, it is what I get up every a.m. to do and I would not change my life for anything!"