Faculty voice:

Rhonda Conner-Warren: Grace in a time of need

July 19, 2017 

Rhonda Conner-Warren is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Detroit and an assistant professor of health programs in MSU’s College of Nursing.

The New Year’s Eve service at the Perfecting Church in Detroit began quite typically. The congregation started filing in until all the seats were filled. After the praise and worship, the pastor took the pulpit and the service officially began. Minutes into the service, the security staff summoned the Emergency Response Team and they burst into action.

Two pregnant women were in need of medical assistance — one with issues related to preeclampsia, and one in pre-term labor. At the same time, a visitor who had been rushed to make it to church on time had taken her insulin but neglected to eat.

Finally, all was quiet for the ERT — but only for a few moments. They were soon summoned to the back of the church where a member of the congregation was found lying on the floor complaining of chest pain. He presented in typical cardiac event fashion — chest pressure, diaphoresis, weak and erratic pulse.

The ERT responded, supplied with a pulse oximeter, a blood pressure kit, and “the prayers of the saints,” says Rhonda Conner-Warren, a member of the team. Their first mission in such a situation is: “Get calm in the room, hold the person’s hand, make eye contact, and speak clearly and succinctly.”

The team stabilized the man and the ambulance arrived within a few minutes.

One nurse, many roles

Conner-Warren has many roles as a Spartan nurse. She is a member of the College of Nursing clinical faculty for online courses. She serves as a clinical instructor for pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit and at Focus: HOPE — a Detroit-based nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the health conditions and the environment of residents of Hope Village, a 100-block radius around the facility. She is also a pediatric nurse practitioner at Health Centers of Detroit.

Bringing her gifts back to the community that raised her

Conner-Warren is consistently involved with giving back to the Flint community — her hometown. She helps run several health fairs each year, and makes sure that Flint residents have access to get their lead levels tested.

“I have to keep coming back until it’s right,” she says. “I never tire of helping.”

She says about that New Year’s Eve service two years ago: “That’s one night I will never forget. It made me forever grateful for my College of Nursing training. 

“I’ve learned from my pastor that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” she adds.

Because of one Spartan nurse and the Emergency Response Team, all of the “patients” from that New Year’s Eve church service are in good health and doing well. The woman who was in preeclampsia is the mother of a healthy two-year-old girl. The heart attack survivor told her: “I don’t remember your face, but I remember your voice.”

“To some, I’m “Doc,” or “Dr. R,” or Sis Warren. To all, I am a Spartan nurse.”

Read more inspiring stories about Spartan nurses in First a Nurse

Read more from Conner-Warner:

You can trust that I will

Flint: A year of reflection

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