MOUNT GILEAD — National Nurses Week was extended this year to the entire month of May to recognize nurses’ work and sacrifices throughout the pandemic. Emily Leonard is representative of not only the nurses serving in Morrow County, but as a nurse who grew up in the local community and continually enriches the lives around her.

She was been in nursing for 24 years, primarily in the emergency room and in nursing education.

Leonhard was raised on a family farm in Morrow County and married Larry Leonhard, who grew up on a dairy farm just five miles from her home. They are still farming. They have four children; Elijah, Lydia, Elizabeth and Levi.

Currently, she is the Associate Health & Staff Nurse at Morrow County Hospital. She also home schools their children, helps her neighbors, and serves on the Morrow County Dairy Association. She also served on the Morrow County Farm Safety Committee and was a professor at North Central State College.

In her current position, Leonhard said half of her work is in employee health. She also does staff development and education including clinical orientation and competencies.

“If you think about it,” she said, “All of my employees are my patients. When they’re first hired, I do a health assessment and review immunization status, and I do all of the fit testing for the N95 respirators. I do that for the community as well. The last two years, for the pandemic, I did a lot of fit testing for nursing because I’m the only one in the county who can do it. I did all of the Ohio Health primary cares.”

The COVID pandemic impacted her work significantly as she provided vaccinations, not just for medical staff but for the entire county.

“It was a lot,” she said, “because what we did was became the providers. My pharmacist, Holly Trainer, who is at the hospital, she and I graduated together in high school, but she and I set up the program. We got the entire county: Anybody who needed vaccinated, we got them vaccinated. We ran several clinics for over a year. It worked really well because we got all of these vaccines in 2021 and we were doing the 80 and older people. We were actually doing people from Columbus, Delaware, Toledo, Pennsylvania—because nobody could get vaccinations. So we were doing hundreds of vaccinations every week.”

They set up a clinic with preregistration and patients came in and got their vaccination and were finished quickly. All of those patients returned to Morrow County to get their second doses. One patient from Delaware said he returned to Morrow County becasue of the quick and seamless process.

“Our staff at our hospital did a phenomenal job,” Leonhard noted. “I was really proud of our hospital.”

Much of her nursing career, 11 years, was in the emergency room at Morrow County Hospital—a place where patient care is in strong demand.

“I love patient care. I have always loved patient care,” she said.

That “phenomenal” work the hospital did providing vaccines also applies to her most rewarding moments at Morrow County Hospital.

“Back in 2012, we had a really bad car accident in Mount Gilead. It was a two-car accident at SR61 and 42. It was about noon and we all were just sitting there and all of a sudden we got hit with six level one traumas and two level two traumas in a 45-minute period.

“The EMS had set up their command center at the site but they forgot to notify us they were sending us these people. I got the first one. I got the driver, and he had a head injury. Dr. Davis, who is actually a family doctor in Marion was moonlight as a ER doctor. We stabilized in our little ER six level one traumas and two level two traumas. And he intubated and put chest tubes in multiple people; and we flew them out to Grant[Columbus],” she recalled.

She said there are pictures of four helicopters circling the hospital in holding patterns to transport the six critically injured patients. State troopers had to assist at the hospital managing family and the public pouring into the hospital for information.

Dr. Davis told the pharmacist and the respiratory therapist they needed to help, and he proceeded to direct the flow of staff procedures and of the patients onboarding helicopters.

Rewarding? All of the patients survived; and Leonhard said the head of the trauma unit at Grant Hospital called and was stunned when he learned Morrow County Hospital, under the direction of a family practice doctor, provided everything the patients needed in their small six-bed emergency room.

Morrow County Hospital was the recipient of a “first of its kind” honor — the “Golden Hour Award,” presented by Grant Medical Center Trauma Services.

Leonhard said saving those patients and the recognition from Grant Hospital were definitely a career highlight.

The Road to Nursing

Leonhard graduated with a Degree of Nursing from the Mansfield General School of Nursing in 1998 and the completed a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing from The Ohio State University in 2007. She went on to complete a Master’s Degree in the Science of Nursing with a specialization as a Clinical Nurse Leader NL) from Otterbein University in 2018.

In addition to working as an emergency department nurse and a nurse educator, she has worked in various ICUs, step-down units, medical-surgical units, short-term care units, and rehab and long-term care facilities. She has worked have worked in various emergency departments all over the Mid-Ohio region, including Knox Community Hospital, OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby, Mount Carmel Saint Ann’s and others.

As a nurse educator, she taught primarily at North Central State College in Mansfield, Ohio as a clinical instructor and as a professor for over eight years. She was also a clinical instructor for Ashland University.

For Emily Leonhard, a career in nursing benefits from her drive to be organized; but in her heart it’s an empathic care of patients that makes it rewarding. That care also extends to the family farm and her husband and children. Emily Leonhard, a career in nursing benefits from her drive to be organized; but in her heart it’s an empathic care of patients that makes it rewarding. That care also extends to the family farm and her husband and children.

By Rhonda Bletner

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