The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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February 13, 2011

Nurse heads to Dumpster to find missing wedding ring

BECKLEY — What seemed to be a typical day at Raleigh General Hospital turned out to be anything but for one special patient who received some great news the day after his outpatient procedure. However, it wasn’t the kind of great news one would expect to get from a hospital.

Marvin Mitchem was a patient of registered nurse Robin Meadows on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Mitchem’s wife, Cheryl, said she remembers the day well because it snowed close to eight inches. That day, before her husband’s procedure, Cheryl said he had taken his wedding band off and placed it in his patient care bag, along with other items. She said once they had returned home for the day, they realized Marvin did not have his ring.

“I called the hospital a million times trying to find that ring, “ Cheryl remembers. “They had already called back to tell me that the ring was gone — that whoever had cleaned up had already taken the trash to the Dumpster, and we were devastated.”

The next day, however, they received a call from Meadows telling them she had found the ring after she and her surgical services aid Kevin Martin, picked through the trash in the Dumpster.

“I had received a call the night before informing me that a patient had lost his ring so the next morning when I came in, I looked around the facility with no luck,” Meadows said. “The only thing we could think of is that it had gone out with the trash the night before so Kevin and I suited up and headed to the Dumpster.”

Meadows said she understood the ring was a very personal item with a lot of sentimental value attached to it so she wanted to make every effort to find and return the ring to the Mitchems. She said she was simply doing her job.

“As a nurse, you just don’t care for a patient’s physical needs, but you also have to care for their emotional needs as well,” Meadows said. “That was very upsetting to them, and I just wanted to make every effort to know that they were OK.”

However, even though Meadows said she was just doing her job, the Mitchems said they feel differently.

“To me, it was like, who would do that? Who would actually go look in a trash Dumpster of a hospital for a person they didn’t even really know?” Cheryl said. “Robin has to be a very special person that still believes in love and in the sacred vows of marriage for her to do that.

“As a matter of fact, the day before when Robin was going down the elevator with us, she and my husband were talking about the fact that RGH is looking for a new CEO, and they were both quoting the motto, ‘We touch lives,’” Cheryl explained.

“I hope Robin gets some recognition from the hospital as one of the best nurses because she took great care of Marvin and was super nice to me while I was there with him,” Cheryl said. “But on top of being a great nurse, she is also a great person because she took that extra step to go above and beyond the call of duty, especially in all that snow and nasty weather, to find my husband’s old, grimy wedding band.

“Anyone who looked at it probably thought it was worth $5, but it meant so much more to us. The ring represents our marriage; it might have some scuffs and scratches, but it endures,” Cheryl continued. “ I hope the hospital recognizes what a terrific employee she is. She represents Raleigh General’s motto, ‘We Touch Lives,’ more so than they could ever know.”

Kevin McGraw, director of marketing for RGH, said Meadows and Martin’s actions are testament to the fact the employees truly care for their patients.

“What Robin and Kevin did is a great testament to their commitment to our values, our service standards and trying to reach out to help out to our patients in any way we can,” McGraw said. “Usually, that occurs in a patient setting, but sometimes our staff touches the lives of our patients by doing things that aren’t necessarily clinically related.

“For them to make this a priority and to find that piece of jewelry, they knew how important it was, and they made it important to them, and for that, we are really proud.”

— E-mail: kvanpelt@register-herald.com

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