• Laurel Contributor

Passion for Health & Commitment to Healing

by Donna Rhodes


When Cindy Barloga, BSN, RN, got out of nursing school almost four decades ago the only positions available were in Oncology.

Her first reaction was, “This is going to be so depressing.”

But she quickly learned that a cancer diagnosis was not a death sentence. A majority of cancer patients were and are survivors, and with early detection, cancer is completely curable.

She wound up enjoying working in Oncology, so much so, she stayed 17 years in that field. Since then she has worked with patients who suffer a variety of other diseases, but they all have something in common, a will to get better and the need and appreciation for a nurturing, compassionate care-giver like Cindy.

Cindy loves working at Mission. She’s in her 37th year of nursing, a large part of which has been spent at Mission. One of the things she likes most is being part of a team that enlists a variety of professionals to cover a patient top to bottom, inside and out. Physicians, surgeons, therapists, pharmacists, nurses, and specialists cover every aspect of a patient’s care. A care plan is discussed amongst attending medical personnel, questions asked, problems solved, meds adjusted, therapists assigned and much, much more. This kind of thorough, attentive care instills pride in Cindy and all the staff.

It’s not always easy. There are difficult days, but Mission is on top of things. Nurses are coached in emotional self care and care for their co-workers. Exercises in tension relief like taking deep breaths, walking it off when time allows, getting massages, having fun, laughing, and other diversions are all valuable in shaking off stress. And most of all, Cindy and the staff feel appreciated and supported by supervisors and administrators.

Ava Emory, Administrator of Eckerd Living Center, also has a nursing background. She says, “I’ve always known I wanted to be a nurse. What I didn’t know was that there were so many different avenues within nursing. My desire to care for geriatric patients became a 20-year career in the study of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, wound management, infection prevention, and hospice. As I advanced in my field I had the opportunity to take a leadership role where I’ve tackled human resources, compliance, grant writing, and public speaking. While none of these were skills I aspired to, or even associated with nursing, the growth opportunities I have been afforded both at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and Mission Health, have given me a different nursing dynamic.”

National Nurses Week ended May 12, birthday of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), AKA “Lady with the Lamp,” who did her final rounds at night. She epitomizes the compassion, empathy, and nurturance we have come to associate with nurses like Cindy and Ava.

For more information about nurses training, job availability, and the fine nursing team at Eckerd and Mission, call (828) 526-1200 or visit careers.missionhealth.org.

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