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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           5/5/2020

                                                                  (By Lisa Garrett)                       

NOTE: National Nurses' Day is celebrated annually on May 6 to raise awareness of the important role nurses play.

GREENVILLE --- Lindsey Morris Thompson is proud to be a nurse, especially during this COVID-19 crisis when patients need her support and guidance more than ever.

As a member of the health care team of the Community Mental Health Services in Greenville, she is one of four psychiatric nurses on her section and among the organization’s 14 registered nurses who on a daily basis now are remotely helping patients to manage their self care and their daily lives.

Before the novel Coronavirus outbreak, patients at Community Mental Health Services came to the office for medications and to receive/participate in community rehabilitative services, such as group therapy. 

Patients still need daily support and access to services but since in-person treatment is restricted, due to the governor’s mandate for residents to stay home to limit the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak, Thompson and her team maintain continuity of care virtually.

“It's hard on us and our clients not being able to have our normal group therapies and sit-down sessions. Their meds and shots are considered essential but many of them have lost access to transportation because their transportation providers want to limit disease transmission,” explained Thompson.  Because patients aren’t coming into the office but still need help in managing and receiving their medications and guidance in ensuring they are administered correctly, she is going to many of them, she said. 

For those who need injections in person and medications delivered because of lack of transportation, Thompson makes house calls.  Safely donned in personal protective equipment, Thompson drives to patients’ homes to administer injections, answer questions or just talk – always observing a safe distance of six feet or more as much as possible.

Many of her patients love to color, she said, and they are showing their appreciation for her by coloring photos she and other nurses have printed for them.

“Many of them have done uplifting artwork for me in the past which is all over my office walls.  So I like to bring them coloring pages when I come out with the meds. Perhaps they'll offer a small distraction and a chance to create something beautiful during this stressful time,” she said.

 “They write personal notes to us on the drawings,” said Thompson who posts them at the Greenville office.  “It’s a way to maintain a real connection.”

She says thanks to new medicine and treatments, “I can see real transformation in their lives.”

That means something to Thompson, who herself grew up seeing untreated mental illness and recognizes that mental health diagnosis and treatment can change lives.

 “Personally observing addiction and mental illness in my family and friends, I’ve seen what drugs and alcohol can do to lives. That’s why I became a mental health/substance abuse nurse,” she said.  “It’s worthwhile if I can help one in 50 to get his or her life back on track and lead a functional life again.  I know I can make a difference. It goes back to my history, seeing mental health and substance abuse issues while I was still growing up and could not have much impact.  These amazing treatments can change lives,” she said.

“I have dedicated my life to correcting something that impacted the earlier part of my life.  I steered toward facing it --  not running away from the past.  I am helping myself as well as my patients,” she said.

“I love my job  -- all the moments and the changes we see. You think about your clients, their families and the difference you can make in their lives,” she said.

“I love their resilient spirit.  It’s powerful to see a difference when they have rehabilitative treatment and a trust of their treatment team.  We help them to develop the skills they need to cope and develop hope and optimism,” she said.

“This is a lifelong career for me.  It’s where I want to stay. It’s very fulfilling.  I’m proud to be a nurse and to be a graduate of Tri-County Technical College.  I’ve come a long way,” she said. 

In 2009 Thompson, a National Merit Scholar, was awarded full academic and athletic scholarships and headed to the University of Delaware to begin her freshman year in college.  The goal was to study equine medicine and compete as a member of the university’s rowing team.

It was there that her circumstances became truly apparent. Too many of the opportunities available to most students were barred to her, forcing her to realize that the college life she had desperately hoped to have was an impossibility. She had to abandon the university and her former goals in pursuit of income. “Because I lacked sufficient support, I couldn’t get private loans. The scholarships and grants were not enough to cover the tuition and my essential living expenses,” said Thompson.

She moved to Clemson, got a job, and enrolled in the College’s associate degree nursing program.  “It saved my life,” she said.

Through her job and scholarships from the Abney Foundation and the College’s Alumni Association, along with federal grants, Thompson was back on her feet and looking forward. 

“Those scholarships made it possible. Tri-County is about helping students get to where they need to go.  I appreciate all of the people who helped to make it happen,” she said.  After graduating in 2015 with an associate degree in nursing, she went on to graduate summa cum laude with a BSN from Anderson University in 2018.

  “I can’t say how grateful I am,” said Thompson, a former Tri-County Alumni Association officer.

She currently is a part-time online student in the University of South Carolina's psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program.  She is also a newlywed.  She and her husband, Daniel Thompson, married March 14 and make their home in Greenville.