Treadmill accident leads McLouth resident to pursue career in nursing

Jolene Croxell, left, WIC supervisor, visits with Cary Allen, breast-feeding peer counselor, about the Douglas County breast-feeding support group. Croxell joined the Health Department staff in June.

Jolene Croxell, left, WIC supervisor, visits with Cary Allen, breast-feeding peer counselor, about the Douglas County breast-feeding support group. Croxell joined the Health Department staff in June. by Karrey Britt

Six years ago, Jolene Croxell began to rethink her career in business management after her son Blake was injured in a treadmill accident when he was 6 years old.

Blake was at a friend’s house and playing with two other boys when they decided to put the treadmill on high while he was on the equipment. Blake couldn’t keep up with it and fell face first. His arm went underneath the treadmill and the skin on his right hand was torn off. Croxell said her family spent a lot of time at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., as Blake underwent surgeries and therapy. “The nurses impacted our lives so much that year,” she said. “It just made me go, ‘Gosh, what am I doing with my life? Am I really making a difference for anyone?”

That’s when she decided to become a nurse.

“The accident really changed our life in many ways and I think it was for the better,” she said teary-eyed. “It was a bad accident but he’s fine now. We are really lucky; he has 100-percent functionality.”

Croxell, of McLouth, earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Baker University in Topeka. While in nursing school, she worked as a patient care technician at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka, where she also volunteered in the breast-feeding clinic. After graduation, she worked as a registered nurse at Stormont-Vail Hospital in the pediatrics department. “We took care of children from age birth to age 26. I loved it,” she said.

She then worked at the Jefferson County Health Department where she provided home health and hospice care.

“It really solidified my decision in wanting to do community health,” she said. “I like the fact that you build a relationship with the people that you work with. At a hospital, you get to see them once and you hope that you are sending them home well, and hopefully, you will never see them again. When you work with the community, you get to see how well people are doing and you get to see the progression and that they are doing better, and that the services you did for them really impact them. That’s huge to me.”

Jolene Croxell

Jolene Croxell by Karrey Britt

In June, she joined the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff as supervisor of the Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly called WIC, and the breast-feeding peer counseling support program.

“This job puts every piece of what I’ve done in my life into one whole piece which is really kind of neat and hopefully it will result in a positive impact on the community,” she said.

Croxell provides nutrition education and support for low-income families. “I think people are talking more and more about nutrition and how to eat healthier and what they can do and affordable ways to do it,” she said. One common problem she sees is parents providing too much juice to their young children. She said many people think juice is a healthy option, but it often has a lot of sugar in it. “Kids love fruit and the earlier you introduce it and if it’s a part of the parents life, then the children will follow in their footsteps.”

To learn more about the WIC program and breast-feeding support program, visit the Health Department’s website at ldchealth.org and click on "Our Services."

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