Helping people feel better and being in the great outdoors are two of the top things that make Jenny Maday happy. Jenny is the newest registered nurse to join the Boca Grande Health Clinic team. She arrived the same week as Hurricane Ian, but her impact has been much kinder and gentler.
Jenny (whose last name is pronounced “mah die,” with the emphasis on the “mah) has lived in Southwest Florida about a year and a half, moving here from southern Minnesota. She and her family were frequent visitors to the Fort Myers area, though, and often vacationed there.
“I told my husband I wanted to move to the area at some point,” she said. They figured that would be after their twin daughters, Lea and Laina, were finished with high school. They were just starting high school at that point and were not too thrilled about the prospect of leaving their friends.
Then COVID hit.
Jenny and her husband, Doug, are golfers, and when the virus stopped most activities, their games moved into high gear.
“It was about the only thing we could do, and we were outdoors, which we both love,” she said.
When the weather in Minnesota started making golfing difficult, the idea of moving to Florida grew into a plan.
“We golfed so much that summer, and I said to my husband, ‘We need to figure out where we can do this more often.’ So we touched base with a realtor down here.”
That was in June of 2020. They did some Zoom tours of houses that summer, but they wanted to get more of a feel for the area.
“We decided that at some point we were just going to have to go down there and actually visit the area.”
That winter they spent the week of December 18 in South Florida, flying home on Christmas day. During their visit they toured one house that everyone in the family felt drawn to.
“We loved it right away,” Jenny said. “And we decided to take the plunge.”
She paused, then added, “It was kind of a big decision. At first, it was a hard adjustment for the girls.”
But now this is home and they are all happy with the move. This is their second Christmas in Florida and they are getting used to the lack of snow and the strangeness of seeing Christmas lights on palm trees. This year’s cold spell helped make things feel more normal for them all.
They live in Rotonda West and the girls attend Lemon Bay High School. Lea is active in soccer, playing for the school, as well as in a competitive league. Laina is into golf and tennis. Golf season ended a month ago, after a very successful season. They went to State, which was “pretty exciting,” Jenny said. Tennis starts in the next couple of weeks.
“Sports have been a good way for them to make friends,” she said.
Husband, Doug, is an independent long-haul freight coordinator “ … which is a huge benefit to be able to move, knowing that he can work from home,” Jenny said.
The family is made complete with Rusty, a hound mix who has brindle coloring.
“He’s our little baby,” Jenny said. “He’s a pretty boy, and he’s so low key. He hardly barks. He loves to lie in the sun. He’s our sweet boy.”
Jenny did not always want to be a nurse, but she always knew she would be helping others. Actually, she wanted to be a veterinarian when she was a child. She even spent a while with her uncle in South Dakota, who was a vet for both large and small animals. The large animal experience was not what she had in mind, so thought she would specialize in small animals. When she eventually entered college she realized that she was not interested in the long years of study to be a vet. She wanted to get a four-year degree and get on with her life.
“My father had been a nurse in the service and I always enjoyed listening to him talk about his nursing stories. I thought, ‘You know what? I could do nursing. I can take care of humans!’ So that’s what happened.”
Today she would not do anything else. She graduated from Mankato State, in Mankato, Minn. in 1998 and began a series of nursing adventures, starting out as a mental health nurse in a hospital.
This March will make 25 years she has spent in the nursing field. She says it’s been fun, and she’s gotten to work in all different kinds of nursing.
“That’s the beauty of nursing, that you can do so many different things,” Jenny said. “There are so many different functions for nurses. So that’s what I like about it. I worked in homes, I worked in hospitals, in clinics, it’s nice.”
She noted that every job brings some new experience and new knowledge. “Every job you start, there’s something new, even coming here,” she said. “I haven’t worked a lot in family practice, it’s still a learning experience. So I like that about it.”
After her work in mental health, Jenny moved into the medical-surgical field, doing post operative care and taking on a wide range of procedures. To escape the cold winter and to broaden her horizons, she moved to San Diego and worked at a traveling nurse firm for a while. This was when this type of temporary assignment nursing was brand new. She stayed on the California scene for a time, returning to Minnesota once the weather was more to her liking.
She did home care and worked in hospice for a while before settling down in clinic work at the Mankato Clinic, doing some specialized care in gastric issues and imaging, particularly in breast imaging. She was at that clinic for 15 years.
Since being in South Florida, she worked and spent some time being a stay-at-home mom. When the girls went back to school after summer break this year, she started looking for a new position and discovered the Boca Grande Health Clinic was looking for an RN. She got an unusual orientation, as the clinic went into emergency mode the week she started, responding to Hurricane Ian.
She was impressed with the response. “It was quite the orientation to Boca Grande! But everybody is so giving here, and helpful. Anything you need, there’s always somebody around to ask and talk to. It really helps a lot.”
Asked what she likes best about being a nurse, Jenny is quick to answer.
“You meet so many different people … I’m also amazed by how much technology changes all the time and medicine changes, so you’re always learning something new. You never stay stagnant.”
“I feel like I’ve always been a people person and I am naturally very compassionate. I feel empathetic for people and I really do put myself in their shoes and think, ‘Gosh, how would I want to be treated in this situation?’ So that helps to give the best care possible. And that is our goal in the end. I also am very detail oriented. I like things done a certain way and that fits well into nursing. It’s been a good fit for me.”
But the best part of being a nurse, as far as Jenny is concerned, is simple. It’s about making people feel better.
“You know you’re making a difference in their life every day” she said. “We can all empathize with how it feels to be sick. Once I am feeling better, I think ‘Man, I take for granted my health.’ Every time I get sick, when I start feeling better I think, ‘I feel like a new person. I feel so much better,’ So it just goes to show how much of a difference it makes. When someone comes in and they’re not feeling well, we can do something to help that. You just feel a lot of gratitude for that.”