By Marci Narum
Some people don’t mind a North Dakota blizzard if it means not having to go to work or school.
Cory Ellison is not one of those people.
Instead of sleeping in on a storm day, Cory plows ahead. He is the guy who doesn’t let blocked roads and blowing snow keep him from his duties as a Registered Nurse at St. Gabriel’s Community, a faith-based, nonprofit provider of senior care services in Bismarck.
When Cory knew some staff members couldn’t make it to work during a blizzard this past winter, he walked a half mile in the blinding snow from his apartment to St. Gabriel’s. And then he stayed overnight.
“He knew the guests were here and they needed the care he could provide,” says Kristie Schumacher, Social Wellness Team Leader at St. Gabriel’s Community.
Cory, 26, is a native of Elgin, North Dakota. He has worked at St. Gabriel’s since it opened in 2010, first as a CNA and then working his way up, becoming an LPN and an RN. He is one of the primary nurses on the short-term rehabilitation neighborhood, working the 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. shift.
“The majority of guests are doing therapy so I get them up and ready for therapy, make sure they have their medications and do any treatments they need throughout the day, pain control, communicating with doctors to ensure the best care for our guests, and assisting the CNAs wherever they need it,” Cory explains.
Cory says he knows how overwhelming the work can be for a CNA so he is always quick to lend a hand. His kindness does not go unnoticed. Florence Herauf has been a CNA for nearly 47 years and says Cory is the best nurse she has worked with.
“When I come to work at 7:00 a.m. one of our guests, who is 101 years young, is getting up and Cory will be in his room getting him ready for the day. He does that with everything. He is always willing to help. He was a CNA first so he knows what it’s like,” Florence says.
Cory also understands what it means be appreciated by his co-workers and the guests he cares for. Several of them nominated Cory for the Sister Claudia Award, a prestigious honor given to one staff member of the St. Gabriel’s Community each year.
“Sister Claudia was one of the sisters with the Benedictine Health System and she really exemplified our core values: Respect, Stewardship, Justice, and Hospitality,” explains Mary Glatt, Director of Nursing. “The person who receives the award reflects those core values, and really goes above and beyond the stewardship value to serve our guests in the best way possible.”
An extremely humble young man, Cory was surprised to receive the award.
“I guess it means I’ve done my job right. I made an impact on people and they really appreciate the work I do.”
Cory says he became a nurse hoping to make a positive impact on the lives of other people
“Just being able to help people. I want to make a difference in people’s lives with the career I chose.”
St. Gabriel’s guest, Phyllis Smith says Cory takes care of her in a way that makes her feel special. But then, it seems everyone else at St. Gabriel’s is saying the same thing.
“He takes care of everybody. If I switch a call light on, he’s there,” says Phyllis, matter-of-factly. “When he does something he does it perfectly. I don’t have to wait. And he’s kind. Everybody says that. If you ask them who they like best, they say, ‘Cory.’”
“St. Gabriel’s is really lucky and blessed to have Cory. We really are,” says Kristie. “He’s always got a positive attitude and a smile on his face.”
Cory also has a desire to keep learning and growing. He is still considering getting his master’s degree and applying to a Nurse Practitioner program one day. It’s a safe bet to say not even a North Dakota blizzard will stop him from doing either one.