“She’s asking me to wash her hair.” That’s what Wimberly Melton, R.N., told me when I asked her about her current patients. But that’s not an unusual request for Melton, who regularly goes beyond the expected, beyond the limits of the job description, to serve and advocate for her patients and their families.
A third generation nurse, Melton’s grandmother graduated from Memorial Hermann’s nursing school in 1946, and after four years on the job, Melton knows it’s “in her blood.”
Melton graduated form East Texas Baptist University in 2010 with her Bachelor’s in Education, and shortly afterward she earned her R.N.
Just after acquiring her license, Melton began work in the Surgical Intermediate Care Unit (SICU) before being transferred to the Shock Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU) at the Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute in the Texas Medical Center a year and a half ago. It’s the largest Level 1 Trauma Center in the Southeast Region, and it’s the only one in Houston with a helipad. This is the place where Melton comes in contact with injuries and situations most cannot imagine – gun shot wounds, motor trauma, head injuries, assault - but between patching patients, she remedies more than wounds.
“In the Shock Trauma ICU, patients are often not in a position to make decisions about their care, and Wimberly understands her role in advocating for the patient and the family’s role in the process. She has the extraordinary ability to share bad news in the most honest and compassionate way; it is no easy task but she handles it with grace. We are all incredibly proud to work with her and feel as though she exemplifies integrity and compassion in every decision she makes or action she takes,” says Chris Denman, Wimberly’s supervisor and the Clinical Director of Trauma at the Memorial Hermann Texas Trauma Institute.
But Melton says her greatest accomplishment is simply taking care of the people who need it most. Since her father passed away three years ago, Melton’s nursing style has been more family-focused because, on a very personal level, she knows what they’re going through. It’s this passion that drives her to “do everything to the limit” - and she means everything. From distributing medication to accompanying physicians on rounds, to bathing and feeding, to working with chaplains and speech therapists, she approaches care with all the energy she can muster and a positive attitude.
When asked what kind of person it takes to do her job, Melton says, “Nursing is a passion, and it’s a calling, and if you don’t have a passion for it and a calling for it, then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s not a skill you can gain from working; it’s something way down deep.”
Engaged to be married in October, Melton is actively involved with her family. When she isn’t out shopping, she’s either working with her church or speaking at her alma mater, East Texas Baptist University, where she earned her degree in Education.
In the STICU, things move quickly, but Melton wouldn’t change a thing. She believes there’s a higher purpose in her everyday work, and for the patients and families who are under her care, there certainly seems to be.