While most of us were at home opening presents on Christmas Eve, Nurse Rose Shuler at Takoma Regional Hospital was scurrying around town doing last-minute shopping for six children who would be spending the night in the pediatric ward.
Shuler, who has worked as a registered nurse at Takoma for almost a year, said she just couldn’t bear the thought that the children might be without presents on Christmas morning.
“I had just celebrated an early Christmas Eve with my family at home, and was called in to work because we had five pediatric patients,” Shuler explained. “I just didn’t want those children and their parents to wake up empty handed on Christmas morning.”
Shuler and her daughter, Amy Hall, who works at Greeneville Urgent Care, went shopping at a local drug store that they found open, buying the children stuffed animals or games. They even bought gifts for the parents.
“I bought one extra gift just in case we had a late-night admission – and sure enough we did,” Shuler said. “It was a two-year-old girl.”
Shuler and Hall raced back home, where they placed the gifts into decorative holiday bags, with a note card saying that they were from “Santa.”
With many gifts in tow, Shuler went in to work at Takoma, where she works the nightshift.
She slipped the gift bags into the patients’ rooms once they were asleep. “It wasn’t much, but I wanted them to know that someone was thinking about them,” she said.
Jolene Campbell of Midway, mother of 3½ -year-old Levi who was one of the patients, said it meant a great deal to them. “Rose is the reason that we’ll keep coming back to Takoma,” Campbell said. “She provides that little piece that is so often missing at other hospitals. She’s just so caring.”
This wasn’t their first dealing with Shuler. In March of last year, Levi was admitted with rotavirus. “Rose came in our room in the middle of the night and put a blanket on my husband Chad, who fell asleep without one,” Campbell said. “He didn’t know it or ask for it, but that’s just how Rose is. She goes above and beyond.”
Shuler, who recently moved to Greeneville from North Carolina where she worked as a nurse for nearly 37 years, said she acts out of Christian love for her patients, something that is openly encouraged at Takoma Regional. “Takoma is a really special place,” Shuler said. “If you need to pray with a patient, you can. In fact, it’s encouraged. Our mission statement says that we exist to extend the healing ministry of Christ, and we really do at Takoma.”
Shuler’s supervisor, Marnie Knight, said she wasn’t surprised by news of a “nurse Santa.”
“Rose exhibits behavior like this consistently and we are so lucky to have her on our team,” Knight said. “Rose truly lives excellent customer service daily.”
Knight learned about Shuler’s generosity from Takoma housekeeper Tena Chandler, whose grandson was one of the pediatric patients. “Rose is very modest,” Knight said. “She wouldn’t have even mentioned it.”
Chandler said her family found it “amazing” that Shuler would be so thoughtful. “But I shouldn’t have been surprised,” Chandler said. “Takoma is a wonderful place to be a patient, as well as to work.”