“Don’t ever give up on your dreams. You can do this. You have to take care of yourself, but you can do this.”
~ Melissa Ensminger, Registered Nurse
Melissa “Missi” Ensminger has served her community for almost 40 years working in various roles at Family First Health. Most notably, Missi worked as a Registered Nurse in our Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program working with first time mothers for 20 years. She joined FFH in 1983, which was when FFH was known as York Health Corporation. Not only did Missi see a name change during her tenure, but also she saw the additions of new centers being opened, more medical services being offered such as Integrated Substance Use Services and Integrated Behavioral Health Services, and community health programs being offered including NFP and Caring Together. Missi was initially drawn to FFH because it was a better fit for her family life at the time and the ability to continue serving low-income clients. She stayed because she fell in love with what FFH is about, the mission, vision, and values. In particular, Missi loved that nobody got turned away due to their inability to pay or insurance status.
As a NFP nurse, she worked with lots of first time mothers over the year but with each baby, she always asked the same two questions; “Are you going to be a president one day? What’s your life going to look like?” She did that with each baby she has worked with because Missi believed that the sky is the limit for them. Working with these mothers, it felt like reading a book on their lives to Missi, even if it was just a snippet of their life. “You’re opening the first chapter of their story and each visit you’re flipping the page for the next chapter and you try to prepare for what’s next, but the story could have taken twists and turns along the way until we graduate them from the program and close that piece of the story in the book of their life.” After the mothers graduate from the program, Missi always thanks the families for allowing her to be part of their journey and being a piece of their story.
One story that will always stick out to Missi from her time as a NFP nurse was of a young mother who had a tough upbringing. When they first met, Missi told the mom, “It’s going to be hard. I will be your cheerleader. I am here for you. You’re going to have to do the work, but I’ll be here for you.” Those words stuck with the young mom as it was the first time hearing those words from anyone. The young mother went on to graduate from high school with honors and invited Missi to the graduation because of the influence Missi had on her life. The mother worked at McDonald’s, went on to get her driver’s license, was able to get her own car, and get her own housing. She then invited Missi to see the house and all of the things they got in their house such as items like shower curtains. To some people these things are little baby steps, but for her they were huge things and she was proud of them. Right before the mother was about to graduate from NFP, she invited Missi over to her house for an unscheduled visit. She wanted Missi to be the first person to see her wedding gown. A year had passed since the mother graduated from the program but she called Missi letting her know that the little girl turned 3 years old that day and to let Missi know that they loved her. The last time Missi saw the mom was when the mother was climbing into her limo in her wedding dress yelling out at Missi, “I love you, Nurse Missi!”
Missi did not see herself as a cheerleader to just the first time mothers she was working with, but she also tried to be a cheerleader to her fellow colleagues over the years. Through all the years of serving her community, Missi is thankful for the opportunity to have been part of all of the adventures and journeys of all who she came across while working at FFH.
Missi, from all of Family First Health, we wish you the best in your journey of retirement and we love you!