A Lesson in Compassion

Jessica Johnson is an occupational therapist at St. Joseph’s Villa in Salt Lake City. She was born and raised in upstate New York. Her mother worked as a speech therapist and spent most of her free time providing important life experiences for Jessica that would mold her into who she is today.
“Every Sunday, we’d visit a friend from church,” said Jessica. “She was an elderly woman, bedridden since her early twenties because of a car wreck that killed her baby. She didn’t have much, but she had us. My mom did everything she could to make her feel loved. It was this lesson in compassion, and others like it, that really started my interest in caring for people professionally.”
Jessica left New York to attend Brigham Young University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Family Studies. After completing her graduate program at Colorado State, Jessica started at Provo Rehabilitation and Nursing as an intern, where she fell in love with the healthcare industry.
“I loved working at Provo Rehab,” said Jessica. “I loved the team, the facility, the whole feeling of being there and helping people.” Jessica was recently referred to St. Joseph’s Villa by Provo Rehab’s Director of Nursing because she was such an “outstanding student.” She has been there for eight months. “When I first walked into St. Joseph’s, it had a great feeling,” said Jessica. “It really felt like a place that was making a positive impact. I knew it would allow me to make a difference. And I loved their holistic approach. They really advocate for patients there, and the staff does so much more than their job; they really care.”
When Jessica was brand new to the healthcare industry, there was an Alzheimer’s patient who was having a hard time with others and wasn’t participating in the activities. She’d have angry outbursts and fits. None of the staff could calm or connect with her until Jessica came along.
“It’s important to listen and look for what is important to people,” said Jessica. “What motivates them.” This particular patient loved to dance, so Jessica took her to the gym and turned on some classical music. “I helped her feel comfortable, and after a few minutes we were dancing! The patient was much happier after that.”
Recently, Jessica had a patient who fractured her foot, and it just so happened to be her 98th birthday. Since her family was out of town, Jessica and a few other colleagues took it upon themselves to make the day special for her. “I’ve always believed it’s really important to get to know who you’re working with so you can make their experience more meaningful to them,” said Jessica.
Jessica has been married almost two years to her husband, Steven, who is a medical assistant. She likes milkshakes, singing, hiking, and kayaking. She also loves to reupholster furniture—so much so that she is currently helping one of her patients with a furniture project. Later in life, Jessica would like to travel abroad to do some humanitarian work.

Picture of Jessica: Jessica Johnson pic