Methodist Northlake nurse known for care in hospital, continuing care for former patients - May 17, 2020

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Working as a nurse on the front lines of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic requires determination, fortitude, stamina, dedication, bravery and resilience, but underneath that tough exterior is a living, breathing human being full of compassion, caring, commitment and a heart of gold.

To be a nurse is to want to help and to heal, and someone who exemplifies all of these qualities every day is Dawn Clark, RN, of Richton Park, Illinois.

A nurse on 3 South at Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus in Gary, Clark, the mother of two, ages 18 and 13, is working in the COVID-19 unit, which she said is a challenge. She is risking her life to help others.

She spends three long days on a shift and then gets three off to sleep and take care of herself and her family. Clark recently won Methodist Northlake’s DAISY Award for her contributions to patient experience, clinical expertise, compassionate care and serving as a role model.

In nominating Clark, Mary Jo Valentine, a member of the Methodist marketing team, noted that Clark had received praise from a patient, who said that Clark was helpful not only at the hospital, but she also went above and beyond the call of duty. At discharge, it was learned that the patient’s insurance coverage would not be in effect for 15 days, which would leave the patient without vital medication.

“Dawn paid for the patient’s medicine prior to discharge. She paid for it out of her own pocket and didn’t have to,” Valentine said. “Dawn’s kind actions brought the patient to tears because of her generosity.”

Clark, who has been recognized as a top nurse in the Region by peer review, said she didn’t want her patient to go without her medication and end up back at Methodist.

“My patient had asthma and had been hospitalized. She then lost her job and her insurance, and because she didn’t have the money, she couldn’t get her medication, which landed her back in the hospital,” Clark explained. “When she was about to be discharged, I learned that she again could not pay for her medicine, so I called the pharmacy. I paid the $25 for her medication because otherwise she’d end up hospitalized a third time.”

This is only one of the many ways that Clark shows her devotion to her profession and her patients. She spent 15 years as a certified nursing assistant before becoming a registered nurse, and offers home health care services when she is not at work.

Clark has a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and she admits that she first investigated becoming a nurse at the suggestion of her best friend, who thought they could take the journey together. Clark stuck with the program while her friend took a different path. Perhaps the experiences that solidified her commitment to nursing, she said, was that she cared for her stepfather and for her grandmother when they battled cancer.