“Australians are very social people,” says Environmental Services Lead Tech Nancy Ford-Miller. Whether it’s due to Nancy’s nationality, her personality or both, it’s impossible to miss her outgoing, positive nature and willingness to step up and help wherever needed, which is why several employees in Boone Hospital’s Infusion and Treatment Center nominated Nancy to be our January 2020 Employee of the Month.
Nancy spent her first 15 years in the Australian Outback, living with her family on a cattle station. She says, "It would take 3 hours by car to see your nearest neighbor." Nancy and her siblings attended correspondence school, rode horses, and helped their father raise cattle and sheep. After moving to the coast, Nancy later married and became a stay-at-home mother to four children.
After her husband passed, Nancy attended a TAFE, or technical and further education, institution. In Australia, TAFEs provide training and vocational courses in different job fields. She earned professional certificates in child care, motel management and working as an activities officer at a nursing home. Nancy enjoyed the last job very much, coordinating outings and activities, and connecting with the people in her care. She says, “I liked listening to the stories they told and learning the things that they went through in their time. I really enjoyed working with them.”
Nancy’s education had an extra, unexpected impact on her life. It was then that she began using the Internet and found a chat room that included some people she knew in Australia – and some Americans she didn't know yet. After 13 years of talking to an American named Steve, Nancy decided it was time to meet him in person and booked a 17-hour flight to Missouri. Two years later, the couple married.
Not long after relocating to the other side of the world, Nancy joined Boone Hospital Center as an environmental services tech, then became a lead tech. She helps prepare schedules, responds to urgent calls for cleanup, and keeps the ITC and Pain Management Clinic clean. It can be hard work, especially when the hospital has many patients, but Nancy draws her motivation from the people she works with, both in Environmental Services and the areas she supports.
Keeping hospital rooms clean and ready to care for patients is a shared responsibility, but Nancy makes it easier for her teammates. In their nominations, several ITC nurses remarked on how she helps them by stripping linens off patient beds and tidying the rooms, a task normally handled by nurses. One nurse says they can tell when Nancy has the day off just by looking at the patient rooms. Another nominator states, “Nancy is always willing to help and to do more. She asks us what we need. She is a team player and communicates with staff very well.”
The appreciation is mutual. Nancy says, “I get on really well down in ITC with the people there. They’re good to work with.”
One year, she gave every ITC nurse a handmade holiday ornament. “She tried to find out what each one of us considered our favorite color and painted them accordingly. She even made one for a new grandchild of one of the nurses,” one of her nominators says.
What makes this gesture more incredible is that the ornaments are made of real eggshells. Nancy carefully blows out the contents, carves the shells, then decorates them with paint and embellishments. She also crafts jewelry boxes out of eggs. It’s definitely a hobby that requires patience and an eye for detail. Nancy says, “I’ve broken a few, but most of them turn out really nice.”
Nancy also enjoys camping with her husband Steve and their dog, Thor, a pitbull-cattle dog mix with a lightning bolt on the back of his head. They own a camper and she enjoys seeing different parts of America, including Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. She would like to visit Montana and Colorado and to pay another visit to New Orleans, but has no plans to see Arizona in the summer. Nancy explains, “I come from Australia – I don’t want to visit any more hot parts!”