Sunday, February 21, 2010

Retired nurse gets dose of joy at clinic

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

'You do what you can, when you can and all that you can because someday you might not be able to.'
That's the motto of Theda Maxfield, the 2010 Temple Community Free Clinic Volunteer of the Year.
'It's the way I was raised, and it's how I've lived my life,' she said.
It's also what makes Mrs. Maxfield a powerful volunteer.
'She is dependable,' said clinic director Connie Minnick. 'Every week, she's here until the last patient leaves.'
That dedication, Mrs. Maxfield said, is the stuff of a nurse. 'And I'm a nurse,' Mrs. Maxfield said. 'Working at the clinic lets me continue my profession in my retirement.'
She started volunteering with the clinic 16 years ago.
'I started when it opened,' she said. 'As time goes, you lose track and forget to remember how long it's been.'
But that's not important. She's not working at the clinic to log volunteer hours or gain experience.
'It's become a part of my routine, my life,' Mrs. Maxfield said. 'I enjoy the people, and I enjoy the work.'
As clinic nurse, Mrs. Maxfield assesses all of the patients that come in for treatment.
'I take health histories and all the standards like weight and blood pressure,' Mrs. Maxfield said. 'I also do health teaching for chronically ill patients who need to learn how to manage conditions like diabetes.' No specific person or incident inspired Mrs. Maxfield to become a nurse.
'I grew up in Temple under the shadow of Scott & White,' Mrs. Maxfield said. 'I always admired the nurses who worked at the hospital, so I wanted to grow up and be one.'
And she did. She also came to hold the title of associate nursing professor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
'I love the nursing,' she said. 'I like helping people.'
That desire to serve others carries over to other community organizations, including First Christian Church and Scott & White Pioneers.
'At the church I work with the Family Promise shelter program,' Mrs. Maxfield. 'And through the Pioneers, I support the Children's Miracle Network.'
Those activities keep her busy.
'I don't really have that much leisure time,' she said.
But every now and then, she enjoys a weekend of cooking or needlework.
And she likes spending time with her husband, Jerry, their four children and eight grandchildren.
Her privilege is her continued ability to serve the community at the free clinic.
'There's great need for that clinic,' she said. 'There's been too many patients who've told me how grateful they were to find it, and how they hadn't seen a doctor in years. So I'm honored to be a part of it.'
But Ms. Minnick said the feeling's mutual.
'(Mrs. Maxfield) has been essential to our program,' Ms. Minnick said. 'Especially to the success of the gynecologic clinic we opened this past year.'
Mrs. Maxfield is the second recipient of the clinic's Volunteer of the Year award. The practice began last year with the first honoree, Dr. Darla Lowe.
The Temple Community Free Clinic is a community-based organization where the working poor, the un-insured and those with overwhelming debt can receive free health care. It is located at 1905 Curtis B. Elliot Drive in Temple. For details or office hours, call 771-3374.

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