LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -Lawton has the only active Nurse Honor Guard in the state. A CCMH nurse founded the group of local nurses who come together to perform a ceremony to honor a former nurse who has passed away.
The SWOK Nurse Honor Guard performed their first ceremony earlier this year for a nurse named Lela Jane Gettes.
Gettes was a nurse for almost 25 years at CCMH. Her daughter Renee, said the ceremony was a wonderful tribute to her mother.
“I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Gettes. “And my family is just over the moon with gratitude to every one of the nurses that dedicated their time and took off work to come and do that.”
During a ceremony, the nurses are in their customary uniform. They recite the nightingale tribute, present the family with a white rose, and extinguish the nightingale lamp.
“I think the most touching part that seems to affect everyone during the ceremony is when we ring the bell and have a roll call for the nurse,” said Potts. “And as she doesn’t answer, on the third time that officially releases her from her nursing duties.”
“It was just a moment of solidarity,” said Gettes. “It took away a lot of sadness and let us know that we are a sisterhood, a fellowship of caregivers who want to honor you.”
Sondra Potts is the Manager of hospice at CCMH, and the founder of the SWOK nurse honor guard.
“I just felt like nurses give their all, their compassion, their dedication to their job,” said Potts. “Sometimes there is not a lot of recognition that goes along with it. But I wanted that to be a tribute to nurses and colleagues that had spent so much of their life taking care of others. I wanted to recognize them.”
Renee Gettes is also a nurse and has been for over 22 years. She said the ceremony inspired her so much, now she plans to join the guard. She said she is proud to have followed in her mothers footsteps.
“After that bell rang and they said ‘you’re released.’ God opened up the heavens and the angels came and took her,” said Gettes. “She had her nursing hat on, and her candle. She said ‘you’re my baby, carry that tradition.’ And that’s what I’m doing.”
If you would like the SWOK Nurse Honor Guard to perform a ceremony for your loved ones passing, or if you’re a nurse and would like to volunteer for the honor guard, you can contact them at 585-5575 and ask for Sondra.