A Small Package Makes A Lasting Impression

Melissa Rock-McCasland never forgets what it means to be a nurse

The packet of salt is never far from Melissa Rock-McCasland, RN, Clinical Informatics Analyst III.  She keeps it tucked in her portfolio, along with her phone and other work-related essentials, as a reminder of how important a simple act of kindness can be. The salt was given to her by a woman she helped in the hospital cafeteria early one morning.

“She was ordering something from the omelet station; she looked kind of frail and so I offered to get her a tray (that would help her carry her meal to a table),” Melissa explained.  Helping others is second nature to this registered nurse who now spends her day helping clinicians understand and adapt clinical information systems to meet patient and provider needs.

After graduating from nursing school, Melissa worked at CVPH for a short time and then took a job at a local health center before joining the Clinton County Public Health Department. During that time, the mother of 3 returned to school and earned a master’s degree in Human Services from Capella University.  Responding to an ad in the paper led her back to CVPH but this time in the Information Services and Support Department.  Her job plays a key role in patient care but not necessarily a direct one. “Sometimes I miss it,” she said. “You know what they say – once a nurse, always a nurse.”

Melissa and her new friend made their way through the cafeteria, first getting coffee and then making some toast. Melissa carried the tray and the two chatted all the while.  She learned that the woman had kidney disease and was receiving hemodialysis.  The 6 year employee purchased her new friend’s meal and found a table for the woman to sit.

“She thanked me and said, ‘Not many people would be this kind.’  I told her it my pleasure; it was nice to meet her and I would leave her to her breakfast,” Melissa explained. The woman asked Melissa to wait a minute while she dug through her things.

“Then, she handed me a packet of sea salt and said she would be honored if I had it. She said that she didn’t have many luxuries in life, but these salt packets were something she indulged in.”   Melissa explained that because of her health concerns, the woman had to adhere to a strict diet and salt could  only be used in moderation. “It (the packet of salt) was probably all the salt she could have for that day.”

The two parted ways. Melissa returned to work, salt packet in her pocket, but the encounter stayed with her throughout her day. “I can only imagine what that packet meant to her and for her to give it to me was special,” she said.

“I keep it with me every day. It’s a tremendous gift.”