'Loud and bubbly' nurse earns recognition for patient care

Jessica Engelland’s compassion for others reverberates through the Good Samaritan Society - Wagner in Wagner, South Dakota. Oh, and so does her voice.

“I am very loud and bubbly. I’m half Czech and everyone around here knows it. I know if there’s someone saying we need to quiet down, it’s probably geared at me,” Jessica says.

Still, the clinical care leader and registered nurse’s powerful presence is treasured by residents and Society administrator Whitney Podzimek.

“I can just hear her in the residents’ rooms and I can hear the residents just liven up,” Whitney says.

The two actually met at church.

“When I found out she was a nurse, I knew she had to come work here for Good Sam,” Whitney says.

Jessica, who grew up 30 miles away in Corsica, has been at the Wagner skilled nursing facility for less than a year. She's already making a huge impact.

Making others feel good

Moving to the location during the pandemic, 86-year-old resident Shirley Broz credits Jessica with making her feel comfortable and confident.

“She always gives me a bunch of false compliments that I know I don’t really deserve. ‘Oh, you look beautiful. Your eyes are sparkling,’” Shirley says. “It makes me feel good."

The 37-year-old’s kindness and bravery is leading to an award from The DAISY Foundation. She used to think nursing was about knowledge and doing. In the long-term care setting, it's about creating relationships and caring for the whole person.

“I just want to love everyone here the way that I would wish to be loved or that I would want my family members to be loved,” Jessica says.

'God put it on her heart' to help

On top of being there for her residents, Jessica served at a nearby location during a COVID-19 outbreak last fall.

“We asked our nurses and CNAs, who was willing to go? Jessica boldly and bravely and courageously had told me and Kelsey, the DNS, she felt that God put it on her heart to go and help,” Whitney says.

A former emergency room nurse in Sioux Falls, Jessica says seeing residents with COVID full of fear and struggling to breathe was difficult.

“That was one of the hardest things, if not the hardest thing, that I’ve experienced in my nursing career. Obviously, working in the ER, you deal with traumas and devastating things all the time. This was just, it was so terrible to witness,” Jessica says.

Her tender care for sick residents during that time of need is why she’s being honored with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“I was in tears. Tears streaming down my face. I was so surprised,” Jessica says about being honored. “Incredibly grateful. This is something that nurses really dream of their whole nursing career."

Colleagues say it couldn't have gone to a better person.

“She’s just a servant. She’s God’s servant,” Whitney says. “It’s evident. When you work with Jessica, she just gives God’s love to everybody. She’s really special."

‘Mission is loving other people’

Resident Janis Nedved agrees. The 85-year-old Wagner native moved here last December after experiencing ministrokes.

She says Jessica is always “happy-go-lucky. Full of fun. That’s what we like."

An avid puzzler, Janis says the Society keeps her safe and busy with activities.

“Thank goodness for this. If we wouldn’t have this, I don’t know where we would be. This is our second home,” Janis says.

A home made better each day by Jessica and the team in Wagner.

“Good Sam’s mission is loving other people and involving God in your love for other people and accepting everyone. I just love that I get to work in a work environment that is so healthy and encouraging. I have needed other help in my life through difficult times and they’ve been so wonderful to me,” Jessica says.

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