SPRINGFIELD – For Teresa Thornton, RN, CHPN, nursing has been a calling. Thornton, who is a nurse with more than 41 years of experience with Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice, knew as a child that she wanted to be a nurse. Her great-aunt was a nurse, and Thornton recalls listening to her stories of caring for patients. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she encouraged Thornton to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
Her great-aunt also encouraged Thornton’s mother to become a nurse. She had always wanted to be a nurse, but she was not able to attend nursing school as a young woman.
“My father died at age 36. So, my mother was a widow at age 30,” said Thornton, who grew up in Champaign County. “She raised three children alone. I was 10 with two younger siblings when my father died.”
Her mother worked for a family physician as a receptionist. The family physician also encouraged her mother to become a nurse. So, her mother started nursing school at Clark State College when Thornton was a senior in high school. The following year, Thornton joined her mother at nursing school.
“She asked me if I would mind because she did not want to take away from my experience,” Thornton said. “I did not mind at all. Not everyone could go to college with their mother. But we are very close, and it was a great experience.”
Before and during nursing school, Thornton started her nursing career as a junior aide in Urbana at Mercy Memorial Hospital, which is now Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital. After graduating from nursing school, she worked for two years at Community Hospital in Springfield before beginning her career in home care and hospice care.
“I was working in home care and wanted to be a hospice nurse,” Thornton said. “I liked making patients comfortable and helping families as much as patients during those end-of-life moments.”
Throughout the years, Thornton has helped a lot of patients and families through the end-of-life journey of their loved one. She has helped doctors with hospice certifications and worked in medical coding, referrals and patient care.
“Nursing gives me a sense of purpose in life. I like to help people,” she said. “Most people are so grateful for even the smallest thing you do for them or their family member. A little empathy and education eases their anxiety and fears.”
She currently serves as an admission care liaison with Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice. She admits patients to the hospice program in Champaign and Clark counties and helps provide the patients and families with the appropriate resources needed at the end of life.
“A career in hospice means a satisfaction that you’ve made a difference in the end of someone’s life. It’s a different kind of career, but it’s very rewarding,” Thornton said. “You have to be patient, have a big heart, and be caring. But you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll be able to help patients.”
The biggest lesson she has learned from her career is to do what you want to do while you can. “We don’t know how much time we have. So, if you want to do something with your life and your family, do it now and do what makes you happy,” she said. “I might be tired, but I always enjoy every moment with my family and appreciate them even more.”
Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice, a service of Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, is a not-for-profit hospice founded in 2004.
Submitted by Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice.