Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board members Molly Eggleston and Cindi Silvey were recently were honored by St. Louis Magazine with Excellence in Nursing Awards at their ninth annual gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.
Eggleston, a 2014 Southeast alumna of St. Louis, was recognized in the cardiovascular category for her work at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.
“I was surprised but incredibly honored to be nominated and win,” Eggleston said. “I am truly passionate about the nursing profession and providing excellent, compassionate care for the patients I serve, and it’s an honor to be recognized.”
Silvey, of St. Louis, was recognized in the emergency department category for her work at St. Luke’s Hospital.
“I was very humbled to have been nominated, and to win this honor was a complete surprise to me,” Silvey said. “There are so many other ER nurses whose stories are more touching than mine, but I am truly touched that someone thought what I do stands out and then took the time to write about it.”
Presented by Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Magazine’s Excellence in Nursing Awards recognize nurses from institutions across the St. Louis region for their exceptional level of knowledge, passion and dedication to their fields. This year, more than 200 nominations were reviewed by a distinguished selection committee comprised of respected leaders from such organizations as Mayo Clinic–Florida, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, and the University of Missouri. They selected 57 finalists and chose the winners in 19 categories.
Silvey, who has spent nearly two decades working in both pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and with adults in emergency rooms, becoming a nurse was a natural and perfect fit for her caregiver personality and instincts. While in nursing school, she worked as a student emergency room (ER) nurse, and she knew this is where she wanted and needed to be, Silvey said.
“There was something about helping the kids and families at a critical moment I felt was for me,” she said. “ER nursing is a huge adrenalin rush, the pace and the unexpected of each and every day is different. Every day I learn something new, see something I have never seen, perform a task I never have done. Most importantly, I get to bond with people at what may be the worst time in their life and make a difference in their overall care and outcome.”
Eggleston, a 2014 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, was inspired to pursue a career in nursing at a young age listening to her grandmother tell her stories of impacting people’s lives as an operating room nurse. As a registered nurse in Mercy Hospital’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, Eggleston helps patients recover from open heart surgery and various cardiac conditions.
“The most exciting part of my job though is seeing the difference I make in a patient’s life,” she said. “When a patient walks for the first time after being in bed for weeks, breaths on their own after being on a ventilator, or when their heartbeat comes back after a cardiac arrest, it is exciting and rewarding to know I played a part in that.”
Connecting with her patients and their families is also a driving force behind everything she does and has provided pivotal experiences she carries with her every day, Eggleston said. She recalls moments such as when a patient she cared for a few years ago suffered a second cardiac arrest in the hospital while recovering from a previous cardiac arrest. She was there to help resuscitate him.
“I was there not only for the patient, but also I developed a strong relationship with his family as I helped and encouraged him through this critical illness and recovery,” she said. “I was there when he first got to the chair, when he had his first ice chips, and when he first spoke after he was extubated.”
When he developed pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, Eggleston was once again there for him and his family.
“I sat with his wife and daughter as they decided to withdraw treatment, and I quite literally shared in the family’s pain as he took his last breath,” she said. “It was a huge privilege to care for this patient and his family in their time of suffering. Remembering them has gotten me through more difficult days in critical care nursing and serves as a constant reminder of the impact I can have in a patient’s life.”
Silvey said that throughout her career, memorable moments and patients have become nearly immeasurable. She’s had so many children and adults she’s taken care of that stand out in her mind. Their stories have ended good and bad, but all have touched her life as a nurse.
In 2012, she lost her 21-year-old daughter Meghan Herndon, who was a senior at Southeast pursuing her degree in nursing, in a motor vehicle accident.
“It was the worst phone call a parent could ever get and calls I used to make when I worked at Children’s Hospital,” she said. “My nursing brain was in overload, and I really wanted to just be her mom. The problem was I knew too much about her injuries and what was to come. But I’ve taken this experience and things from her accident to help other families in dealing with similar situations.”
Silvey has become a family liaison in the intensive care unit at the hospital where Meghan died, and is a speaker for grief support groups. She is also sharing her experiences and knowledge as an adjunct nursing instructor at Saint Louis University.
Being there for those in need, no matter the situation, is her true calling, Silvey said.
“It is very rewarding seeing the care I have provided either physically or emotionally to a patient that makes an impact,” she said. “It is so rewarding to see a patient walk back in the ER just to say ‘hi’ and ‘thank you’ for what you did for them.”
Eggleston recently received a scholarship from Mercy Hospital to pursue her doctorate of nursing practice at Saint Louis University and focus on her research interests in mechanical circulatory support in heart failure and cardiovascular disease in women. She said the experiences she had while at Southeast provided her a strong academic and professional foundation for the future, and she encourages students to take advantage of all the opportunities available on campus and after graduation.
“Get involved in student and nursing organizations and get involved with the Southeast Alumni Association or in the hospital you work for,” said Eggleston, who also serves as a Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board member and is an alumni mentor for Southeast’s Department of Nursing. “I have learned the most and have had so many opportunities in my career from becoming involved in my profession and staying connected to Southeast.”
Silvey added, no matter what your career or life may bring, strive to make a difference everyday regardless how big or little.
“Always talk to a patient, get to know the patient and show them you are human. It is sometimes the simplest things we do as a nurse that can make an impact on a patient or their family,” Silvey said. “Always support your co-workers and other team members. Who you work with can make or break a day. Always find something to laugh about. If we don’t laugh at work, we are not having fun. If we are not having fun, then we become tired, boring and sometimes not so compassionate or nice. When you put your head down on your pillow after a long day, ask yourself, ‘what did I do today that I know made a difference?’”
**Top Photo Caption: At left is Molly Eggleston. At right is Cindi Silvey.