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Cindy Moody kept childhood promise to become a nurse

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Top Ten Nurses- Cindy Moody. Photographed Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Waterloo, IA.

When Cindy Moody was 9, she was hospitalized for 10 days during a flu pandemic in 1968 and 1969 that killed an estimated 1 to 4 million people worldwide.

“It was during the Christmas holidays, and I was extremely sick. I had some experiences at that time that were not good. At that age, you remember. I decided I was going to be a nurse because I didn’t want children to experience what I had gone through,” Moody recalled.

She kept that promise to herself.

Moody has been a registered nurse for more than 38 years at MercyOne in Waterloo. She is now a case manager on the inpatient Acute Rehab unit. She also has spent more than a decade working weekends in the Martin Suites’ long-term care unit at Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls.

Moody has been selected one of the Top 10 Nurses in the Cedar Valley. She was nominated by her daughter, Kaity Alsaihati. “A nurse is not just a job; it is a way of life. It is not an 8-hour shift, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, weekends and holidays. I do not know a life that is not centered around nursing. While I am not a nurse, I grew up knowing the life of a nurse and am deeply grateful that my mom is one of the best,” Alsaihati wrote.

“She is my hero in more ways than I can count.”

Moody was overwhelmed by the award. “There are so many of my comrades who are just as entitled, many good nurses out there that I really admire and who do wonderful work and don’t expect recognition. I do what I do because I’ve been guided by God. It’s my calling,” Moody said.

Her experience includes surgery, pediatrics, home health, pediatrics, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, including supervisory and case management roles. She spent 11 years as a pediatric nurse at a time “when the pediatric unit was bursting at the seams, but treatment plans are always changing and improving and children aren’t hospitalized for as many things as they used to be. I knew I’d better not isolate myself to one area,” Moody said.

“What’s nice about nursing is, you can always open another door because there are so many opportunities and areas you can move to for experience.”

She has worked two jobs for nearly 15 years. “I want to help my kids (Kaity and Matthew) through college and provide them with financial support so they didn’t have to incur a lot of debt. Once I started, I just kept doing it. I enjoy it, but my husband Joe keeps asking me when I’m going to retire. I’m only 61, and it’s in my blood.”

Moody credits her husband for his support. “We’ve built a very good team.”

There is no “off” switch when it comes to nursing. Moody saved a neighbor’s life when he suffered a heart attack while mowing the lawn. Several years ago, on a shopping trip with her daughter, the nurse stopped to aid victims in a car accident. She has cared for her mother and mother-in-law, siblings and cousin. “I tell them they can bounce questions off me, and I’ll give my answers, but I don’t do rashes,” she said, laughing. “Those can be caused by too many things.”

Laurie Walker, a fellow Top 10 Nurse honoree, said Moody “makes the lives of many in the Cedar Valley better, safer and more productive. Cindy is a great resource to both new and old nurses due to her vast knowledge and steady nerves in a crisis. She is one of the best,” said Laurie Walker, a fellow Top 10 Nurse in the Cedar Valley honoree.

Young nurses give Moody motivation. “They bring in new ideas and keep my mental thought processes constantly going. It’s give-and-take in learning from each other,” she said.

As a case manager, Moody no longer has direct bedside contact with MercyOne patients. Personal contact with patients is one reason why she continues working weekend shifts at Martin Suites, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I make sure I take extra precautions, especially when I’m not at work, if I’m shopping. I work with a vulnerable population so I limit my contacts, wear a mask and follow all our protocols because I don’t want to become a risk to them. I am healthy, but I have to take care of myself in order to take care of them,” Moody explained.

“I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say, ‘Yes, I get tired.’ People ask ‘why do you keep working those extra hours at the Western Home. When I get to work, I see the smiles on residents’ faces who are so happy to see me. I know this is why I still come to work here.”

Her daughter Alsaihati added, “When my mom decides to retire, the medical world will be at a loss for her incredible compassion, knowledge, patience and selflessness. Even though a day will come when she will not work in the health care industry, she will forever be a nurse – and my hero.”

“I decided I was going to be a nurse because I didn’t want children to experience what I had gone through.” – Cindy Moody

"I decided I was going to be a nurse because I didn’t want children to experience what I had gone through."

– Cindy Moody

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