“With loyalty, I will endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”
Every day, nurses take these words from the Florence Nightingale oath to heart, striving to ensure their patients’ welfare—but some, like registered nurse Jennifer Smith, take that commitment to care a step further.
Last November, Smith got a panicked call from John Burley, one of her patients from the adult day health care program at Rome, New York’s Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. He’d been hospitalized with pneumonia, and with no nearby family to step in to help, his dog Boomer had been taken to an animal shelter.
“I came into work the Monday after Thanksgiving to the phone ringing at 7 a.m.,” Smith recalled in an interview with CNN. “John was calling from his hospital room saying, ‘Boomer is in the pound! Boomer is in the pound!’”
Aware that the 12-year-old dog he’d had since it was a pup meant the world to him, when Burley asked Smith if she would take care of Boomer, her immediate response was a resounding, “Of course, I will!”
The first thing Smith had to do was track Boomer down, finally finding him at the Rome Humane Society. The following day, she drove to the shelter and put the adoption in motion, letting Burley know Boomer was doing well and he’d be coming home soon.
Smith was given the green light to bring Boomer to work with her. She says that knowing his beloved canine companion was safe and they’d be able to see one another made a huge positive impact on Burley’s recovery.
During his stay in the rehab wing, Smith brought Boomer to visit his doggy daddy several times a day. The cute pooch soon became a favorite with staff and patients alike.
To Smith, keeping 60-year-old Burley and Boomer together is just a natural extension of her life’s goal of helping people. “There are just so many worries in the world right now. If I can take one worry away from John, that’s the least I can do,” she told CNN.
“I can’t cure diseases. I’m not a miracle worker [but] I made a promise to John to take care of Boomer. I will take care of him as long as he needs me to. John knows that. Right now the focus is on John getting better and taking it one day at a time.”
Burley has speech issues as a result of his illness, so sometimes it can be difficult for him to put his thanks into words. However, there’s one sentiment he’s managed to express loud and clear: “I love Jennifer,” he’s declared.
We’re sure Boomer seconds that emotion with a hearty, “Woof!”
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