above and beyond
When she's not working as an ER nurse at Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas, Brooke Johns is often still at the hospital, serving as a volunteer instead.
Johns spends some of her free time offering hair care for patients, going from room to room to see who would like to have their hair brushed or braided or receive a head massage. She enjoys being a soothing presence for patients who are recovering from surgery or have been in the hospital for months, and likes that she's not rushed like she would be during regular work hours.
"I get to go in and there's no time clock," Johns told USA Today. "There's no, 'I've got to get to the next patient room.' If somebody needs me for an hour, I can give them an hour. If somebody needs me for 15 minutes, I can give them 15 minutes. There's freedom in that."
Since Johns started volunteering her time a year ago, she has helped more than 100 patients, including Sierra Stein. Last July, Stein was hospitalized for a month with complications from COVID-19, and because of safety protocols, she couldn't have very many visitors. When Johns would walk into the room, armed with a brush and ready to detangle some hair, Stein was thrilled. "That physical touch and that interaction means so much when you're so helpless and so alone," she said.
Some patients are surprised to see their nurse back after ending her work day, and offer to pay Johns for her time. "It's just like, 'No, no, no, that's not why I'm here,'" she told USA Today. "It's not a business thing. It's a healing thing."