Jo Ann McMillan began her career as a nurse, and she still has great admiration for those in the profession.
“Nurses traditionally give and give and give,” she said. “It’s important that we do something to give back to nurses.”
McMillan has been a strong advocate for nurses over the years. In 2002, a fund named in her honor was created for the purpose of supporting nursing education. McMillan has made generous contributions to the fund over the years. And in 2018, the inaugural Jo Ann McMillan Award for Nursing Excellence was awarded to a deserving nurse.
Hannah Disney, RN, was the award’s first recipient. At a ceremony on the Spartanburg Medical Center campus in the spring, she received a $1,000 prize and a colorful glass trophy.
Disney is a registered nurse in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU). She was selected among a group of her peers for the DAISY Award, which are given monthly as part of a national program to recognize exemplary contributions by nurses.
Disney was nominated for the May 2017 DAISY Award by co-workers. They wrote about the special compassion and support she demonstrated for a patient in need:
Hannah’s patient was with us for a long time and had multiple medical issues. He could be difficult to work with, and the only one who could get through to him was Hannah.
One day, Hannah was assigned to care for this patient and there was a baby shower occurring in our unit. Hannah decided to take him a slice of cake with his lunch. Immediately, his eyes lit up. For the first time since he’d come to our unit, he said, “Thank you.”
Hannah made it her personal mission to break through to him. Over the course of his stay she gave him a birthday party, decorated his room for Halloween, and kept his bedside table full of treats.
Colleagues added that Disney continued to support the patient even after he left the hospital. She checked on him at his nursing home and took him clothes and food. “It was through her compassion, dedication, and perseverance that this patient was able to regain his independence and rejoin the community,” they wrote.
Disney became emotional when talking about her and her patient’s bond.
“Sometimes it takes just a little patience and trying to talk and listen like a friend,” she said.
And of receiving the McMillan Award, she said, “It’s overwhelming.”
McMillan was impressed by Disney’s story.
“It’s rare to find someone who has gone to the lengths she has. It’s pretty special,” she said.
McMillan began working in health care in Greenwood, SC. She later relocated to Spartanburg and served as the first executive director of Spartanburg Regional Foundation. She is married to Marion McMillan, who was a member of the blue ribbon committee that led the early development of the Foundation more than 25 years ago. The two are generous donors to the Foundation, supporting a variety of funds that address diverse health needs in the community.
Supporting the work of nurses is a cause that remains close to Jo Ann McMillan’s heart. “I know how demanding the work is,” she said. “And nurses deserve recognition for all that they do to help others.”
Support the work of SRHS caregivers by making a donation to Spartanburg Regional Foundation: https://regionalfoundation.com/donate-now/.