For more than three decades, Beth Puckett, Registered Nurse (RN) has walked the halls of Summit Medical Center with one goal: to help others.
In her 32 year career at the hospital, Puckett has worked on every nursing floor in almost every nursing job. She now serves as the Infection Prevention and Employee Health nurse for the hospital. Her job often puts her in the role of educator as much as nurse. This time of year, she usually has a needle in her hand, vaccinating staff members against the flu. “I tell everyone to get vaccinated, and dispute the rumor that the flu shot will give you the flu. That just isn’t true,” said Puckett.
Puckett’s job as Infection Prevention nurse also takes her to schools around the area to teach about how to stop the spread of illness due to infection. “The biggest thing is hand hygiene, and no touching in the “T” zone,” added Puckett. The “T” zone Puckett refers to is the eyes, nose and mouth area on the face. According to Puckett, one of the best ways to prevent illness is to keep your hands away from this area of your face.
Puckett takes her hand washing demonstrations to schools, recently teaching the health classes at Ramsey Junior High. “A lot of people do not use enough soap or hand sanitizer or put soap on and then immediately dip their hands in the water,” said Puckett.
Puckett not only helps area schools, but has made an impact on quality around the state through her work on State Quality Awards which Summit Medical Center has received in recent years. Her biggest accomplishment is the Innovator Awards the hospital won from the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. With the awards, protocols and procedures put in place at Summit to prevent infection have been shared with hospitals state-wide to help improve other hospitals’ infection rates.
Though Puckett doesn’t take risks when it comes to infection, she can be described as a daredevil on her time off. She has been zip-lining, white water rafting, and deep sea snorkeling. Despite her love of the outdoors, Puckett says she keeps coming back each day to Summit because it gives her purpose. “A job with a purpose in helping others makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day,” said Puckett.