Nurses honor fallen cohorts’ steadfast service to patients

Joan Plunk with Brett Taylor and Jamie Luecke, advance practice providersNurses spend much of their lives caring for others. That’s true for Joan Plunk, MS, RN, NE-BC, Heart & Vascular Institute director. Plunk has dedicated 40 years to nursing at Carle.

“I was motivated to become a nurse because my grandmother was a World War I Red Cross nurse,” said Plunk (pictured far left). “She would let me try on her cape and uniforms. She was the one who got me interested in the profession.”

Plunk’s career gained her many close friends.

“It’s such a big part of my life. The nursing community is as close as family to me,” Plunk said. “Many nurses I have known for my entire life, and sometimes you are faced with a nurse who passes. It is important to honor this nurse in a special way.”

Plunk and other nurses are part of the new Nurse Honor Guard assembled to celebrate the contributions of nurses at the time of their death. The group will serve families that seek to honor their loved one’s legacy. For more information or to volunteer for the Nurse Honor Guard, please send an e-mail to marybeth.henry@carle.com.

“We hope to offer services to any nurse who passes away in this area, regardless of where they worked or how long ago they were employed. We anticipate the need for this service to be small at first, but as the word is spread, the need will grow,” said Mary Beth Henry, RN, Pediatric Specialties, who, along with a number of other nurses, is coordinating the Nurse Honor Guard effort.

And Plunk is honored to be part of that effort.

“Anything I can do to help the family I will do. I will do anything I can to help during such a difficult time,” Plunk said.

The honor guard attends the visitation and/or funeral services to serve as honorary pallbearers or in whatever capacity the family decides.

“It is the right thing to do, to honor and serve a family and the nurse who dedicated so much to others,” Plunk said. “If requested, the group of nurses will stay with the body until the nurse is laid to rest. 

“Nurses have assisted you into this world. It is right to honor them as they leave this world.”