Nurse Eases Fears, Forges Connections

Originally published in the Rocky Mount Telegram

Ashleigh & Kenneth

Registered nurse Ashleigh Hudson has known she was meant to be a nurse for a long time.

Hudson, a cardiac observation supervisor at the Nash Heart Center, spends her days forging relationships with patients, seeking to make them feel more comfortable and doing necessary work to make them better.

“Our patients don’t typically stay in our department very long,” Hudson said. “But we try to form a connection and ease their fears.”

“Really, it’s about doing your best job, using all your skills and equally, being compassionate, empathetic and building a relationship with your patients — even if it’s for just a few hours.”

One of her most memorable nursing moments happened when she formed a strong bond with an unconscious patient — on the side of Benvenue Road. Last month when commuting to her home in Tarboro, traffic slowed and
Hudson was trying to view what the delay was.

“I saw there was an accident on the side of the road and it looked like it had just happened. Traffic was going really slow and I could see a crowd of people standing off of the road. Just as I was about to pass the scene, I saw
they were doing chest compressions on someone. I knew I had to stop,” Hudson said.

She pulled over and ran to the scene of the accident.

Hudson said she saw a truck that had crashed on the side of the road and a group of people were administeringCPR on a man laying on the ground.

“They had thought they had a pulse back, but when I checked it was too slow, so we started again,” Hudsonrecalled.

Hudson thinks there were about 10 people standing around the injured man, rotating through the chest compressions and breathing regimen.

“Those who weren’t doing CPR were praying,“ Hudson said.

Once fire and EMT personnel arrived, they took over the lifesaving tasks. Eventually, the man, Kenneth Nettles, was stabilized and taken to Nash UNC Health Care for further care.

Hudson believes Nettles is alive today because just the right people were there on the scene at his accident.

“One of the first people to get to him — I don’t know who she was but she was in health care because she had scrubs on — got CPR started immediately. There was a medical personnel person there that helped intubate him. All the people that were praying, they all made a difference,” Hudson said. “It was the perfect combination of people to get the job done.”

Hudson got to see Nettles after the accident. She said she wanted him to know how many people had stopped to assist in saving his life.

“He didn’t remember any of it and was really shocked to hear about how so many people had stopped to help him,” Hudson said.

Hudson said she has thought about those moments on the side of the road a lot that night and wanted to make sure he knew what an impact it has had on her, and probably everyone that had been there.

“I just really feel that this man was meant to have a second chance — that it couldn’t have been a coincidence that the trees slowed him down just right, that we were all there at exactly the right time,” Hudson said. “He told me he has six grandchildren, so clearly he’s meant to spend a lot more time with them.”

Sarah Heenan - Executive Director of the Nash Heart Center, thinks Hudson was exactly where she needed to be that day on the side of the road, and she’s glad patients get nurses like Hudson at Nash UNC Health Care.

“Whether we’re taking care of a patient in the Nash Heart Center or in a roadside emergency situation, it’s all about providing the patient with what they need to help in their recovery. Every patient, every situation is different,” Heenan said. “You focus on building a relationship and making that person feel better — whether it’s a warm blanket at that moment or pushing for faster test results ...we just want people to feel better and get better.”

Hudson agrees and says every patient has a story.

“Mr. Nettles’ story was just kind of more dramatic than others. But still, I try to make a connection and do a good
job,” Hudson said.

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