Nursing manager Denise Findley, RN, has a mission to heal, whether it’s patients in the operating room at Flaget Memorial Hospital or underserved populations in remote regions of Guatemala and Kenya.
Denise felt called to take her skills international to help those without access to medical care or surgery in 2008. She’s traveled as part of a surgical team every year to fulfill her call to serve since becoming a medical missionary.
“I just love that, for one, you see these people who are so appreciative for getting their procedure done,” Denise said. “They traveled for days by bicycle, motorcycle or foot just to get a procedure. When I first started going to Guatemala, we got off the bus and patients were already there. It was like a Saturday and we didn’t start doing surgeries until Monday, that’s how important their procedure meant to them.”
Denise had the opportunity to participate in making many lives better. She helped remove a near golf ball-sized mass from one patient’s mandible. She helped complete a skin graft on a girl with years-old burns on the back of both legs. Denise and her husband, who began accompanying Denise on the medical missions, both made major differences in the quality of life for many patients.
“One girl had burns and her father was leaving, my husband asked why they were leaving and he was told [the family] didn’t have money to pay for the girl’s procedure,” Denise said. “My husband goes, ‘Oh, no. No one leaves here if they can’t pay. I will pay for their surgeries.’ I don’t know how many surgeries we paid for, but he didn’t want anyone to not be able to have surgery because they couldn’t afford it.”
Denise found her calling toward medicine at Flaget Memorial Hospital when her mom signed her up to be a candy striper. Denise’s father was also ill growing up, bringing out the caretaker in her.
“My dad was sick with cancer, so when he came home, I was always trying to change his dressings and stuff like that,” Denise said. “I knew from an early age that [health care] was something I would like to do. My mom saw my love for caretaking and nursing when I was young, so she signed me up to be a candy striper at this hospital but it was at the old facility when I was in high school. I candy striped for three years straight in the summers. That confirmed my love for health care.”
Denise was a surgical tech for seven years before becoming a nurse 17 years ago. With more than two decades assisting surgeries, Denise has also worked to become a strong leader in the operating room unit.
“My goal is to make every day a good day for them,” Denise said. “To be there for them, to have their back when they have an issue. And if it’s something I can’t solve right there, I go find the answer and give them feedback. It makes employees feel good. I like being here for them because I’ve been on the other side as staff, and I know how it feels to have a good leader.”
Denise resides in Louisville with her husband. They attend church and volunteer with Sunday school and church health fairs. Denise also spends time volunteering with Flaget Memorial Hospital in the Bardstown community sharing her knowledge of medicine to local students during health fairs and the Backpack Program.