An open letter to the people of Ware and surrounding counties…

A week ago, Mayo Clinic announced it was ending its relationship with Satilla Health Services in Waycross. (Here is a link to a GHN article

The following is written by a Satilla nurse, Jordan Strickland:

I was sick all last weekend after receiving news that Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, would be returning our Waycross, Georgia, hospital to local control. When I received the news last Friday, I was heartbroken. I worked for the hospital when it was Satilla Regional Medical Center and I worked for, and continue to work for, the hospital as Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross.

Jordan Strickland
Jordan Strickland

I was excited with the direction in which our hospital was headed. I can remember being extremely scared, sad and anxious when Mayo Clinic took over. What changes would come? Who would have to leave … who would stay? As I sat there thinking at my desk on Friday of what Waycross would do now, a thought came to me.

I have worked in the Emergency Room in Waycross for almost five years. I started as a transporter for the ER and then worked my way up to nurse after receiving my LPN license through Altamaha Technical College in Jesup. About a year ago, I accepted a position as patient care coordinator for the Senior Behavioral Center, allowing new opportunities for myself and my family. After thinking about how I got to the seat I was sitting in, I asked myself, “Why are you in Waycross?” The words “teamwork,” “compassion,” and “dedication” came to mind.

Mayo Clinic did not make me a nurse. It did not instill in me at a young age the desire to love and care for others at all cost. Mayo Clinic did not wake me up every morning to walk into an ER full of the unknown, and the people at Mayo did not make me go back day after day. Mayo Clinic also did not make me choose to stay in Waycross. I did. I made these decisions myself, and I made them for many different reasons.

The community of Waycross and the people I work with are what I love most about this place. My first day in the ER was trying, tiring and bothersome, but I always went back, and I continue to go back to this hospital every day, to serve others in this community. The compassion from my fellow nurses and the dedication of our physicians excite me. They make me feel loved and welcomed and push me to be better every day. Mayo Clinic did not choose the Waycross hospital because we were “in a bad place” or because we “badly needed help.” Mayo chose us because it saw room for growth and hardworking, dedicated people.

With all that being said, there are many good things Mayo Clinic did for Waycross.

Mayo Clinic is one of the most renowned hospitals in the United States. Mayo Clinic allowed me the privilege to work with many of the best in the business. Mayo Clinic encouraged me to get a higher level of education, which is currently in progress, and Mayo pushed me to succeed. Mayo Clinic provided me with the best and most recent education on many different subjects, which I might not have been fortunate enough to receive otherwise. Mayo helped fulfill my responsibilities as a nurse. Mayo Clinic’s primary value is, “The needs of the patient come first.” This motto is actually a constant reminder of what I have already learned in nursing school. We all have.

Time to come together

All of the nurses that come to work day after day in Waycross strive to put the needs of their patients first. Not just because Mayo Clinic came to town, but because of who we are and why we became nurses. Many of our children eat cereal for dinner (heck, I eat cereal for dinner many times) because we are not able to leave our jobs on time. Many of our families miss us dearly and worry about our well-being during our long twelve hour shifts. More times than I can count, my poor daddy has brought me Diet Cokes from Flash Foods during my shifts, just so I could stay awake and keep going. I say this to point out that this is a time when we should come together.

Mayo Clinic brought resources, education, research, and many specialties that Waycross needed. I love working for Mayo Clinic and would like to thank everyone I have had the pleasure to call colleagues on each of their campuses. Thank you, Mayo Clinic, for believing in our nurses and our physicians. Thank you for sharing your quality and values with us. Thank you for bringing hope and respect to Waycross, and thank you for reminding me that change is the only constant.

This is not a time for fighting and bashing. This is a time for our Waycross community to come together. Have pride in your nurses and doctors; this will only make them work harder. Try to see the good, despite the bad, and stand up for what you believe in. A name change and new ownership do not mean that the high level of care people receive will vanish. The change does not mean that we will not have connections with these colleagues who are leaving us. It does not mean that we will stop striving to put the needs of our patients first, and it does not mean Waycross is a failure. We are far from failures.

Ware County and surrounding counties have been through tremendous trials and tribulations recently. The entire United States has. Many are suffering from tragedies, heartbreaks, disappointments and regrets. Many are trying to figure out where their next meal is going to come from and how they are going to pay their bills. Many are fighting diseases, telling a loved one goodbye for the last time and struggling every day to protect our own. Waycross, we are not alone.

The world is suffering and dealing with change constantly. I am asking that everyone pull together and look for the good in our local doctors, first responders, nurses, schoolteachers, and many others who strive to serve the Ware County community. Love one another and lift each other up. While the news about Mayo Clinic comes as a shock to many and is disappointing to most, such is life. Life is ever changing. We must adapt in order to survive, but we must do it together. We must be ‪#‎WaycrossStrong.

To the Ware County community and anyone who enters MY hospital. I will take care of you, I will feed you, I will protect you, and I will serve you.

Love always,

Jordan Strickland, LPN