Delwin Jacoby APRN, DNP credits her OB-GYN father with her own career’s emphasis on service and compassionate care. She and her three siblings were all born while her father was in medical school and residency. Growing up watching her father care for patients, she always knew she would become a nurse or a doctor. Her father always told her to ‘take care of everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.’ His own father was a general practitioner serving Appalachian coal mining families and taught him this living legacy of compassionate medical service.
Delwin worked as a nursing assistant in the old Louisville General Hospital serving the largely indigent inner city population during college before completing her nursing training at Clemson in 1979, her nurse practitioner training at UK in 1984 and her DNP at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2013. As an advanced practice nurse, she returned to service in Louisville’s inner city followed by 4 years from 1986-1990 at Lexington’s Community Kitchen Clinic, the precursor to Lexington’s Hope Center, serving homeless and at-risk indigent men and women. From 2006-2009, she worked as a nurse practitioner and was in charge of quality improvement for services to the homeless and indigent at the Bluegrass Farmworker’s Health Center, the precursor of today’s Bluegrass Community Health Center, now a Federally Qualified Health Center. She also helped establish a rural health clinic in Lawrenceburg affiliated with Woodford Memorial Hospital and worked there as a nurse practitioner from 1995-2000.
Delwin works 1 day a week at Lexington’s Baby Health Service, serving mainly uninsured and indigent children. Donna Sizemore, an RN at Baby Health with decades of pediatric nursing experience, says ‘Delwin Jacoby is simply the best nurse practitioner I’ve ever worked with. She has devoted her career to serving the underserved. She always goes the extra mile. She taught herself Spanish to better serve the Hispanic communities in the clinics where she works.’
Her impulse for compassionate service is kept alive by constantly remembering her father’s advice to ‘take care of everyone, no matter what.’ This means recognizing and embracing the challenges encountered in serving marginalized communities. Homeless and indigent clinic patients and their families present with more than physical medical problems. Providing comprehensive primary care to this disadvantaged community also involves social and psychological service coordination. She often has to be creative and use multiple community resources to get patients and families the care they need.
Other ways she keeps compassion alive and manages her own stress include flower gardening and regular physical exercise. She admits to being ‘an exercise freak.’ She runs, bikes and has competed in several marathons and triathlons. After giving her first marathon medal to her father, she has since given away any ribbons or trophies to her sick patients or friends.
She has taught nursing at Spalding University in Louisville for over 20 years. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Spalding’s very mission is faith-based service and compassion. She now mentors and teaches pathophysiology and genetics to Spalding nurse practitioner and DNP students. After completion of a genetics courseworks sponsored by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, she sees patients one day a week in the genetics clinic at UK’s Department of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism. Many of the Baby Health Service patients have developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, some of which have a genetic basis. To teach health professional students the importance of service and compassionate care, she thinks we must teach by example. To that end, she always has an advanced practice nursing student with her wherever she sees patients. She says ‘students need to see us practicing what we preach.’
One of the ways she demonstrates ‘going the extra mile’ is following up with patients and their families after a hospital admission or significant outpatient problem. This is another habit she learned from her father who always kept 3×5 cards in his pocket to remind him of the patients he wanted to call and follow up 24 hours after hospital discharge.
Delwin Jacoby continues to embody and transmit her father’s legacy of compassionate care to her patients and to the next generation of advanced practice nurses.
About the Author
Dr Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, specializing in stress-related chronic disease and burnout prevention for helping professionals. He can be reached through his website at http://www.mindbodystudio.org