Cherry Odom

“My Pride in Being a Mission Health Nurse Grew” – Cherry Odom Announces Retirement after 46 Years

On Tuesday, May 7, Cherry Odom, BSN, RN-BC delivered the following farewell address at the Nursing Congress held at Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center.

By Cherry Odom

This Friday, May 10, will be my last day at Mission Health. I am retiring from nursing after 46 years.

I have worked nearly 21 of those years at Mission Health. In that time, I have witnessed the evolution of our nurses, as we have become nationally recognized for our nursing research studies, evidence-based practice, quality projects and patient outcomes.

For nearly a decade, I provided bedside care as a member of the Staffing Pool, in five adult ICUs, four stepdown units and one Vascular Surgery PACU. The last 11 years, I have been privileged to serve as the editor of our Nursing Annual Report, and have documented the many amazing achievements and advancements in nursing practice of our patient- and family-centered team.

I have served as editor of our nursing newsletters. The first version, called Nursing News, was on printed paper. Later, after it was converted to online news, it was named Caring Connection through a blinded selection of names submitted by our nurses.

I have assisted with our DAISY Award program since implementation at Mission Hospital in April 2011. Later, all our regional hospitals started their own DAISY programs, and I served as liaison to provide a resource to all our programs across the division in maintaining standardization of the awards.

I have assisted with certain aspects of recognizing our nominees, nominators and honorees for the Great 100 Award and the statewide Gala. I have also been involved with many other duties as assigned.

In 2008, when I started in my current role, our department was called Clinical Support and Development. I went back to school to upgrade my RN diploma to a BSN degree. Then, a couple of years after that, I enrolled to attain my MSN.

Three days before classes started, I had to withdraw—I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I decided all my energy needed to go toward maintaining my job and beating cancer. As I started my journey of surgery, chemo and radiation, I had a dream one night. My deceased mother and brother were in the dream. Mama had died at age 43 from a brain tumor, and my brother died at age 39 with colon cancer. Without speaking a word to me, they conveyed the message, “We will be with you.”

Well, when I woke up, I was petrified; I thought, oh no, I’m going to die! Then I reasoned that they said they would be with me—not that I would be with them. I decided right then that their message meant I would live! I cannot explain to you the sense of love and peace I felt throughout the nine months of treatment. Every time I came to Mission Hospital for procedures and treatment, I was met with a high level of kindness, respect and clinical expertise.

Right in the middle of all this treatment, guess what deadline came due? You guessed it! The Nursing Annual Report! Without my even asking, Kathy Guyette, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, our Chief Nurse Executive, postponed those deadlines. I have told her several times how much that meant to me. She allowed me to fulfill my duties in completing the report, just at a slower pace. I felt valued and trusted. At that point, we had worked together for four years; she knew I would complete the report.

During all my years of working on projects, which highlight you, our nurses, I have taken many, many photos—not because I am a pro. Even though I am interested in photography, it was by default that I became our nursing photographer. It was sort of an unspoken expectation: if I wrote the story, it was up to me to take the photos.

Many times nurses have run from me when they saw the camera, or have complained when I asked them to sign consents. I learned to NOT take that personally. The joy I have experienced in taking those photos far outweighs any comments made.

What you don’t know about my downloading the photos, then editing them and writing photo IDs for them to be published, is that for years, every time I manage the photos, I catch myself grinning from ear to ear just looking at your faces!

In those photos, I see your compassion, your kindness and your dedication to caring for others. I sense the physical fatigue you feel after long hours of standing on your feet and the stress you endure in the hectic pace of healthcare. In your eyes, I see sadness over losing a patient and the comfort you offer the grieving family members, while also caring for your other patients.

I see you figuring out a way to cope with constant changes and you support each other, as you work long hours then go home to complete hours of homework to attain a higher nursing degree. When I had my health issues, I saw first-hand the exceptional care you provide in both ambulatory and inpatient settings. Being on the other side of the bed rails gave me a new perspective of the warm cocoon of nursing expertise, which is a refuge in the hustle and bustle of healthcare. My pride in being a Mission Health nurse grew, as I felt the healing environment established by all of you.

I want you all to know how honored I am to have been at the forefront of celebrating all that you do. I see who you are! I feel your heart! I recognize the huge difference you make in the lives of the people you serve! Never underestimate the power that you hold! You shape the health of our communities! You impact the professional practice of nursing! Your influence is far reaching—never take that for granted!

Stand strong in advocating for excellent outcomes for your patients! And stand strong in carving out time and energy to take care of yourselves! No one will make that time for you; you have to claim it!

I’m so thankful I’ve had these years at Mission Health! I will miss you all. If we are not friends on Facebook, please send me a friend request. I would love to stay in touch.

Thanks so much for the memories, and may God bless you all!”

Cherry, thank you for all you have given to Mission Health. You will be greatly missed by all of those who knew you. We wish you well as you step into retirement!


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