American Red Cross nurses have been contributing to their communities and country since the early days of the humanitarian organization. Today, Red Cross nurses respond to disasters, providing health services and first aid, and they volunteer in military clinics and hospitals, supporting members of the Armed Forces.
National Nurses Week is an opportunity to honor these compassionate volunteers. Here are the stories of two registered nurses in Central Florida who give their time and talents to the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. Our heartfelt thanks to you – and all of our nurses -- for your selfless service!
Greg Ernest, BSN, RN
Mid Florida Chapter
A Navy and Air Force veteran, Greg’s dream was to become a nurse. Having served as a Naval Corpsman on a destroyer from 1973 through 1977, Greg pursued his goal, overcoming obstacles along the way. His perseverance has paid off multifold.
“I wanted to be a nurse but at that time there was a waiting list, so I applied to the Hurley Hospital School of Radiology and graduated as an X-Ray technologist, which I practiced for a few years. But something was still missing.”
Turning obstacles into stepping stones, Greg received his B.S. in Nursing from Oakland University in 1987. He entered the Air Force as an officer, obtaining a specialty in obstetrics and newborn nursing.
Over the years he’s provided all aspects of nursing, with the call of the emergency room the strongest. “I liked the fast-paced work.”
Greg retired from the demanding Lakeland Regional Medical Center, with its 100+ bed emergency room. “But again I missed nursing. When I heard of the Red Cross’ need for nurses, I volunteered, convinced I could continue to help people and keep my medical skills and knowledge current. It was win-win.”
Like other Red Cross nurses, Greg gives of himself, helping people after a disaster.
Karen, his wife of 40 + years, agrees that Greg is the perfect “prescription.”
Kiadiann Maxwell, BSN, RN
Tampa Bay Chapter
Kiadiann chose nursing as a career because nursing chose her.
When Kiadiann was 15, she lost her dearest aunt to cancer -- diagnosed with stage 5 cervical cancer at the age of 33. She remembers watching the hospice nurse care for her, and at night, Kiadiann would give her back rubs to offer comfort and help put her to sleep. In the end, she was very involved in her aunt’s care and would change her, dress her wounds and give her medication. This deeply personal experience ultimately led her to nursing.
After Kiadiann finished nursing school, she explored different specialties in a hospital setting where she has worked with patients from all walks of life. Here she identified a passion for giving back, and is now sharing her time and talents with several organizations that serve vulnerable populations.
“I volunteer with the American Red Cross because they offer hope to people during the roughest times. Many times the people we serve just want to know someone is there to reach out to them and offer a helping hand.”
Kiadiann is quick to mention her volunteer experience has been mutually beneficial.
“I have learned so much about my community and also myself from volunteering with the Red Cross. The greatest joy of being a Disaster Health Service member is the sincere thank you that you receive from helping a person in need.”
f you are a RN, LPN, LVN, CNA and student in any of these professions, consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer nurse. For more information about health professional volunteer opportunities, please email RedCrossNurse@redcross.org or click here to Become a Volunteer.