Hospital's education director named among state's top 100 nurses
August 12, 2010
Connie Grady of Four Oaks remembers the first code she worked as a 24-year-old nurse in the intensive care unit at Johnston Memorial Hospital. Her team revived the patient that day, and he went on to live a full, productive life.
But there’s more to tell.
Grady met the patient’s daughter during that hospital stay, and the two women grew to become best friends over the 25 years or so that followed. And when the patient died, Grady was at his bedside—this time holding his hand as he slipped away.
“I considered it a privilege,” she says. “Those are the things you don’t forget.”
Grady, who has been the hospital’s director of education since 1985, has accomplished much in her 32-year career as a nurse, educator and manager. Through the years, her work has been rewarding and personally meaningful, she says.
While in the ICU, she was the first nurse at Johnston Memorial, now Johnston Medical Center-Smithfield, to administer thrombolytics—drugs that break up blood clots in the arteries. When she became ICU manager, she taught nurses to listen and distinguish between normal and abnormal heart sounds.
Under her leadership as education director, Johnston County was one of the first in the state to put into place E-learning for its hospital employees and medical staff. She encouraged long-distance learning and online degrees.
Grady initiated an advanced course for nursing assistants and started a diabetes education program that is certified by the American Diabetes Association.
Her community outreach work has included the coordination of health fairs, prostate clinics and wellness screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure. She started a cancer support group and coordinated the first bloodmobile visits to the hospital.
Outside the hospital, she has been on the part-time faculty at Johnston Community College since 1985, teaching nursing and allied health curriculums and continuing education programs.
For 21 years, Grady was the hospital’s nurse liaison to EMS professionals across the county. And her department continues to put on the annual EMS banquet, which recognizes workers for their service and dedication.
Cardiology and trauma nursing have always been her passion, she says. Her father died of a heart attack when he was 44. At the time, Grady, who was then 10, saw her father collapse in the hallway of their home in Raleigh.
A rescue squad took him to the hospital, where he died soon afterward.
From that day on, Grady says she was intrigued with the workings of the heart. And years later as an educator, she most enjoyed teaching, and became known for, her class in arrhythmia or irregularity in the heartbeat.
In September, Grady will be recognized at a gala in Greensboro for her outstanding professional abilities and her work to improve health care services in the community. The award is from the Great 100, a grassroots peer organization that honors the nursing profession.
Grady says she feels honored to have been selected for the award. In the last 20 years, the hospital has had six other recipients, including Mabel Yelvington, who hired the young nurse after she graduated from Barton College. Grady also has a master’s degree from Campbell University.
“Connie is a very competent, caring nurse,” said Yelvington, who has since retired as chief nursing officer and is now a member of the Johnston Health Foundation. “She’s done a nice job of developing and maintaining an education program for staff and doctors.”
Grady says Johnston Medical Center has many excellent nurses who deserve recognition, too. And she gives credit to her older, now retired mentors for teaching her to lead and to be an advocate for patients.
“I’ve always strived to do my best,” Grady adds. “I think that everyone is supposed to make a difference in his or her community. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. This is the place I love.”
Grady, who is an avid Wolfpack fan, is married to Tim Grady of Four Oaks. Their daughter Meghan is in graduate school at Georgetown University. Like her mother, she plans to pursue a career in health care.