Jackie Wofford’s motto is a quote attributed to late author Erma Bombeck: “Seize the moment. Just remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
When a bout with breast cancer forced her to choose between teaching and nursing, two professions she loved, she went with the one that was more of a calling.
“This fulfilled me. I always liked working with patients,” she said of her career as a nurse. “I felt like that was what God was saying. I feel like I make a difference.”
Wofford has been a registered nurse in The Medical Center at Scottsville’s emergency room for a little more than two years. She does triage, meaning that she sorts patients based on medical need and treats them.
“In a small ER like this, you see everything. Not everything is an emergency, but it’s important to the people who come here,” she said. “Allen County has a lot of heart attacks. We also see pain, car wrecks and trauma.”
Although she had always wanted to be a nurse, Wofford said she didn’t take a direct route there. When she was 22, she became an emergency medical technician and then a paramedic. She was one of the first female paramedics in the region. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from McKendree University and a master’s degree from Spalding University, both in Louisville. As a student, she also worked and raised a family.
“I worked in Louisville for several years,” she said. “I worked in long-term care mostly. I also worked for a psychiatrist.”
For more than a year, she taught in the associate’s degree nursing program at Western Kentucky University’s South and Glasgow campuses and worked at The Medical Center at Scottsville at the same time. She had worked at the hospital years ago when it was called the Allen County War Memorial Hospital.
“We did everything there,” she said of the old hospital. “Everyone wore a cap. We did labor and delivery. We mixed medicine.”
Doctors and nurses seemed to be on different levels then, but now things seem different, Wofford said.
“It’s much more of a team concept,” she said. “We’re more partners in care. It’s a really good trend.”
Her battle with breast cancer last year made her realize she couldn’t keep up the pace of nursing and teaching. Wofford received radiation for six weeks while working both jobs.
“I never missed work. I never dread coming to work,” she said. “That’s a real blessing. I really love it here.”
Some of her favorite things about being a nurse are making people feel better, working with families and problem-solving when outcomes are going in a different direction than the wishes of the medical staff. She said she believes Commonwealth Health Corp., the parent company of The Medical Center at Scottsville, and the hospital itself are patient-oriented.
“They want good patient care, good outcomes and want to help you get there,” she said.