March 19, 2010

Simmons remembered for compassionate caring

Simmons remembered for compassionate caring

Freeda Simmons, R.N., had treated hundreds of motor vehicle accident patients in her time as a Vanderbilt Emergency Department nurse.

On Monday morning, March 15, she finished her 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift and was driving home to Gallatin when, according to press reports, an empty trash container fell from the rear of a tractor-trailer truck, causing an accident involving multiple vehicles, including Ms. Simmons'.

Freeda Simmons, R.N.

Freeda Simmons, R.N.

She was transported by Sumner County EMS back to the Vanderbilt ED she had recently left. She was cared for there and then taken to surgery, where she died, said Brent Lemonds, R.N., administrative director of Emergency Services.

“We can all rest assured that from EMS to the Trauma Team…everything that could have been done for Freeda was done,” Lemonds said in a message to the ED staff.

Ms. Simmons, 50, had worked at VUMC for seven years.

“She was known by all in the ED for compassionate care to her patients, for knowing her coworkers by name, and for taking every opportunity to be upbeat for everyone she came into contact with,” Lemonds said.

“Suddenly losing a member of our ED Team is always tragic. All of us feel a sense of disbelief when it is one of our most revered, respected and beloved nurses,” said Corey Slovis, M.D., chair of Emergency Medicine. “She taught us all how to be better at our jobs.”

Ms. Simmons was also an artist whose artwork decorates the ED area walls, and who was known for drawing fish and writing the words “have a blessed day” on whiteboards in patient rooms. After her death, her final whiteboard drawing was found and preserved for permanent display in the ED conference room.

Plans are also under way for the establishment of the “Freeda Simmons Compassion Award” to be given during the annual ED Awards Day.

Counseling for ED and Trauma staff and faculty was made available through Pastoral Services, Worklife Connections-EAP and the Department of Social Work.

Ms. Simmons is survived by her husband, Scott McMillan, who works in Central Supply in The Vanderbilt Clinic, and five children.

A memorial service will be held for Ms. Simmons in Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23.