Two Spencer Hospital Nurses Honored Among Iowa's 100 Greatest Nurses

posted on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in General

Spencer Hospital nurses Joyce Tewes and Jeri Wescott, both of Hartley, have been selected as two of Iowa’s 100 Great Nurses for 2018 and will be honored at a May 6 celebration in Des Moines.

The 100 Great Iowa Nurses program identifies 100 outstanding nurses every year whose courage, competence, and commitment to patients and the nursing profession stand out above all others. These nurses go above and beyond to contribute significantly to the profession of nursing.

“I’m very honored; it’s so humbling,” Tewes said. Wescott concurred, as the two also agreed they didn’t like the spotlight, yet were appreciative and honored to be nominated by peers.

Tewes is starting her 40th year as a nurse and Wescott is in her 35th year of nursing. During their careers, both have experienced many different types of nursing occupations.

“I love the diversity nursing provides,” Wescott said. She found that in different stages of her life, she found herself drawn to care areas that matched her professional interests with personal interests. As a young nurse, the challenges of working with patients in an intensive care setting provided adrenaline. After becoming the parent of a special needs child, she was drawn to pediatrics. Over the years she’s found herself caring for various types of inpatients from obstetrics and intensive care to surgical and medical patients; has served in leadership capacities; and also cared for patients receiving dialysis treatments and oncology care.

“Oncology nursing has been my most rewarding position,” Wescott says. “I like getting to know the patients and families and to be able to provide comfort and support to them during their ups and downs. Working in oncology has given me a different perspective on life.”

Tewes has always enjoyed the diversity her nursing career has provided, and most of all, enjoys the people she gets to help. “I always wanted to be a nurse, as I always like and wanted to help people,” she remarked. She’s worked in various hospital departments during her nursing career and also for industry, serving as an occupational health nurse for the meat processing plant in Hartley for 14 years, before joining the Spencer Hospital team as employee health and wellness nurse.

“I love various types of nursing yet occupational and employee health have been my favorite,” Tewes said. “People work so hard at their jobs and don’t always take care of themselves. They need someone to be by their side, to guide them in through their health concerns, to teach them and to follow-up to make sure they’re doing well and improving their health.”

Below are excerpts from the nominations for these two outstanding caregivers.

Joyce Tewes

Joyce has been in the Employee Health role at Spencer Hospital for 13 years. During these years, she has demonstrated care and compassion for her patients, which are hospital employees and family members. Employees are very comfortable coming to talk to Joyce to share their own health issues or issues that their family members are experiencing that will result in absences from work. They know that she genuinely cares about them and their recovery. While on medical leaves, Joyce makes a habit to contact them on a weekly basis to see how they are doing. When employees come to Joyce with their new, sometimes difficult diagnosis, their minds are consumed with many troubling concerns such as how they are going to make ends meet with being off of work or will they even be able to return to work. While working the HR department regarding disability benefits, Joyce constantly helps them focus on themselves and getting better.

Joyce has refined the hospital’s wellness screening process to a science. This year under her leadership, wellness screenings were completed on 465 employees and spouses in just four mornings. In addition to hospital employees and spouses, Joyce also leads wellness screening programs for hundreds of others employed by local banks, utility companies, city and county governments, colleges, local schools and factories.

Under Joyce's leadership, we have seen employer after employer improve the health of their workforce throughout the last few years. One example is a local company which in 2012, had 40% of their population meeting the risk criteria for having Metabolic Syndrome. In 2017, the number with metabolic syndrome has been reduced to 17%, thanks to Joyce’s work in facilitating the screenings and educating people on what those risk factors mean to their health, along with tips for health improvement.

Jeri Wescott

Jeri began her nursing career in Iowa in 1983 after graduating from nursing school as a staff nurse at a local community hospital. In 1986 she moved to Fort Collins, CO. and continued her career for 13 years in many nursing areas at Poudre Valley Hospital. While at Poudre Valley, Jeri was nominated as nurse of the year and was awarded the honor of first runner up.

When Jeri returned to Iowa with her family, she continued her nursing career at Spencer Hospital in the intensive care unit as a staff nurse. Jeri moved to the role of Clinical Resource Nurse (house supervisor) for a short time before becoming the nurse director of the medical-surgical unit. While the director of the medical-surgical unit Jeri lead her staff in the design and building of their new medical-surgical unit.

Jeri has made many contributions throughout her diverse career to identify one specific contribution that stands out above all the rest would be very difficult. However, devoted is a word I believe describes an attribute that is wrapped into all contributions Jeri has made throughout her nursing career.

Jeri has shown leadership throughout her career at the levels of a staff nurse, supervisor and director through mentoring student nursing, new nurses in the orientation programs, serving on numerous committees, leading the design of a new medical-surgical department which included designing a new care delivery model for the design of the new unit, and was instrumental in the implementation of the of nursing float pool.


Through their induction into the 100 Great Nurses, Tewes and Wescott join several other Spencer Hospital nurses who have been selected for the honor previously:

Marcia Larson – 2006
Linda Casey – 2009
Judy Fox – 2009
Deb Johnson – 2009
Francel Graham – 2010
Mindy Sylvester – 2010
Dee Vaage – 2011
Laura Armstrong – 2016
Colette Rossiter – 2016

Ben Armstrong – 2017

Laura Manwarren – 2017

Brenda Tiefenthaler – 2017

Joyce Tewes - 2018

Jeri Wescott - 2018