After almost 21 years with Gastrointestinal Associates, Nurse Practitioner Janet Samples is approaching retirement, but won’t commit just yet to an exact date. “I was supposed to retire in January,” she says with a laugh, “but I’m here full-time overseeing and training staff to take over at the infusion center. Maybe I’ll retire in August?”
The infusion center at Dowell Springs is an important part of the GIA practice. Patients receive medications through IV for conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; iron infusions for those with deficiencies; and even treatment for C. diff for patients not responding to other medications.
Janet spent much of her GIA career treating hepatitis C patients. “There was a new treatment on the market when I started in 2000, and we had a big push to get patients in,” she remembers. “Part of my job was to help them realize that hep C didn’t define them and that they were valuable people. One patient stands out, he came in disheveled – he’d lost all care about his appearance. I worked with him and by the time he was clear, he was clean shaven and well dressed. He always stuck in my mind as someone who heard me. I felt like that made a difference.”
She also wants people to understand how so many diseases, treatments and even injuries are connected to the GI system. “I am fascinated by the fact that the GI system is so intricately tied to the whole body. GI care is as critical as cardiac care – even heart medications can cause GI issues with patients.”
Janet – or Nana the Nomad as her two grandchildren have called her – has enjoyed buying, moving in and renovating houses to sell. She finished her last remodel in Oak Ridge and, “I’m staying in it!” She shares the house with a rescue terrier, Sophie. “She has a princess attitude, hops on furniture like it’s an Olympic event and is not a good guard dog – everyone’s a friend.”
She’s looking forward to spending more time honing her acrylic painting and keyboard musical skills through lessons and classes but still gets emotional about the next chapter. “I have enjoyed doing this – truly loved it,” she says through tears. “I keep telling myself that I’m ready to leave – I need to learn how to paint and play piano!” We wish her the best and hope she keeps sharing her positive attitude.