- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Angela Phelps has been highly blessed, and doesn’t mind sharing the love she’s received with the patients she serves every day.

Phelps is a licensed practical nurse and the assistant director of nursing at Jolley Acres Health Care Center in Orangeburg.

It is not unusual to find her there at all times during the day or night, assisting with residents’ needs.

Phelps has gone on food runs to accommodate special requests from patients who may not be eating well. Bringing flowers and a card for residents returning home from the facility’s rehabilitation unit is also something she does to show them appreciation for using the services of Jolley Acres.

Courteous professionalism is something Phelps displays to ensure that the patients’ needs come first.

It is her concern for those she serves that recently earned Phelps the designation as the exemplification of caring for the month of June as part of Orangeburg County’s Community of Character initiative.

It is an honor that caught the 43-year-old by surprise.

“I thought it was a joke. I was very surprised because there are several people in the community that could have been nominated, but I really feel grateful and consider it an honor,” Phelps said.

Having a caring nature is key in her job as a nurse.

“It means giving from the heart. You’re not thinking about it or expecting anything in return. You have some nurses that are in it because they really want to help somebody, and you unfortunately have some nurses that are in it just for a paycheck,” Phelps said.

She added, “If I can go home knowing that I’ve helped one person throughout my 12-hour - and sometimes 16-hour — day, then I know that I’ve done what I needed to do.”

After having spent nearly 14 years in the nursing profession, Phelps considers it more than just a job.

“There are different fields of nursing, but I like long-term care. It’s much different because your patients become more like your family. They’re coming in here every day, and I’m with them more than I am with my own family,” Phelps said.

She said caring for patients’ families is equally important to her.

“Even when I’m not here physically, I’m here mentally. A patient once told me that she didn’t think of a long-term care facility as a nursing home. She said it is heaven’s waiting room. She said, ‘I’m only here for a short while until God calls me to where I need to go,’” Phelps said.

She added, “If this is their waiting room, as my patient put it, you have to look at their requests as if it might be their last. I’m just thankful that I have a family who understands my job.”

Phelps is the daughter of Orangeburg residents David and Caroline Jones. She was born into a military family in Pennsylvania and raised in El Paso, Texas, where she still has family.

“My mother always taught me to treat people like I want to be treated, and that’s definitely with respect. You never let people run over you, but I will do whatever I can to help anybody that I can and not expect anything in return,” Phelps said. “It’ll come back to you one day.”

She and her loving husband, Anthony, have been married 24 years and are the parents of a 20-year-old daughter, Khadijah. They are expecting a son in October.

Phelps said her mother- and father-in-law treat her as if she is their own.

“My mother and my mother-in-law have both been strong influences in my life. It’s very humbling and gracious to have both of them still with us. I tell people I have two sets of parents,” Phelps said, smiling.

Khadijah is making her own path in the nursing field. The certified nursing assistant also works at Jolley Acres and will be attending nursing school in August.

“I’m excited for her. I’ve taught her to not depend on anybody. Work hard. I think young people these days think things are handed to them, but they’re not. If you work hard, you will achieve what you need to achieve in life,” Phelps said, noting that she believes her daughter is more caring than she is.

“She’s a little soft, but I think that’s because she’s young as well. I don’t want her to ever change that but, at the same time, you have to sometimes be a little cautious, too,” Phelps said.

“But she’s very caring, independent, smart and beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter,” she added.

Anthony said he wasn’t surprised that his wife was tapped for being an example of caring.

“I’ve been with her for the past 26 years. I know she’s well deserving of it. It didn’t surprise me one bit that she would earn such an honor,” he said.

Phelps said she could not do anything she’s done without the help of the dedicated Jolley Acres staff.

“I’m very thankful to have a staff like I do. My staff has to get credit, so I try to also thank them and give to them in any way that I can. I appreciate them very much,” she said.

With the birth of her son coming soon, Phelps realizes she has to begin slowing down a little around Jolley Acres.

“My husband’s been fussing at me about that. I have to remember that I’m pregnant now but, at the same time, my mom or his mom might be here. I would want someone to do the same for them,” she said.

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