This article honors Jessica Lindstrom, an inspiring nurse, celebrating her exceptional impact on patients and colleagues, and her family's touching tribute at the Values in Action Award ceremony.
Annual Values in Action Award ceremonies are always emotional, but November’s event was especially poignant. It was the first in which a husband accepted the award on behalf of a guest of honor, ARRMC inpatient rehab nurse Jessica Lindstrom.
Daniel Lindstrom, along with the couple’s four young sons and Jessica’s mother, Angela, attended the event to honor Jessica, who died just three months earlier.
Lindstrom received multiple nominations for the award, given to five employees who best exemplify Asante’s Values of excellence, respect, honesty, service and teamwork.
“She not only embodied all Asante’s Values in every way, she also inspired all of us to be our best selves each and every day,” said Malia Ross-Cwiklinski, Lindstrom’s friend and manager. Ross-Cwiklinski held back tears as she recounted Lindstrom’s influence on her department and her patients.
“This may sound strange, but our group tried really hard to find just one time she got irritated or upset. Or just one time she didn’t jump in and help. Sixty-plus people couldn’t think of one thing.”
Lindstrom had planned on being a pediatric nurse, but found her way into rehabilitation. It proved to be a perfect fit.
“She made time to communicate with patients who had a difficult time hearing, seeing or speaking by finding images, charts and large fonts,” Ross-Cwiklinski said. “She would sit right next to them so they could hear and see her clearly. She would make eye contact and ensure patients could read her lips. She helped patients grieve the loss of mobility, memory, vision, speech and independence.”
In her nomination, Nancy Quinn cited the Joni Mitchell lyric, Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
“Even when you know what you have it’s easy to take it, or somebody, for granted,” Quinn wrote in her nomination. “This is especially so when that person is young, vibrant and appears to have so much ahead of them. Sometimes people who have passed are built up and elevated beyond the life they lived. This was not the case with Jess.”
Lindstrom’s tragedy made international headlines in August, when news outlets reported that an Oregon woman had left for a hike in Phoenix, Arizona, in the morning and had not returned after temperatures soared to 115 degrees. Asante employees were shocked to learn the woman was their beloved colleague, who was hiking in the same park where Daniel had proposed to her 10 years earlier.
“She was not perfect,” Daniel said. “But she was perfect for me, perfect for us. And she was perfect for her patients. They felt that compassion, and they knew she cared.”
Lindstrom’s colleagues said they wish they had nominated her for the Annual VIA earlier because she truly did model the ideal nurse and teammate. She helped improve communication by instituting (on her own time) a group mobile app. She helped with complicated scheduling to ensure work-life balance and shift coverage, a task that Ross-Cwiklinski said could be crazy-making.
“This is no big deal,” Lindstrom would say. “It’s like a puzzle, it’s fun for me.”
She excelled when working with the most troubled patients, learning about their struggles and helping staff learn the best way to reach them. “She wasn’t about changing a person, but meeting them where they were,” said Ross-Cwiklinski.
Lindstrom’s approach to patient care and to her work influenced her colleagues.
“She had a vibrant and contagiously cheerful personality,” said co-worker Carrie Wessling. “No one could help but mirror it when around her. There are some people who come into our lives that inspire us to be better people because of the kind of person they are. This is truly Jessica. ”