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Johnston Health honors registered nurse

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SMITHFIELD — Rita Cook of Angier, a registered nurse with more than 30 years of experience, has been named Johnston Health’s Ambassador of the Month for April.

During a recent presentation, CEO Chuck Elliott said Cook is kind, caring and genuine.

“She is always an advocate for the patient and family,” said Elliott.. “She takes the time to connect with patients in ways that make them feel comfortable and cared about.”

Cook has been with Johnston Health for nearly 13 years. She works on the second floor of the hospital’s Bright Leaf wing, where the staff takes care of observation, cardiac recovery and infusion patients.

“We’re all cross-trained, and it’s a great group,” said Cook. “It keeps your mind sharp.”

Leah Garner, who is manager of the nursing unit, said Cook has also been a great comfort to patients who have recently lost a spouse.

“She shares her own personal experience of losing her husband,” said Garner. “She connects with them on a deep personal level.”

When her husband, Roland, died of lung cancer three years ago, Cook said she felt “half-dead” because he was such a part of her life.

“But you realize you’re not, and that you must honor them by living a full life,” said Cook.

Cook has three grown children, five grandchildren and another one on the way. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and getting together with a special group of friends from church.

Through the ambassador program, Johnston Health recognizes employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to a designated month-long parking space, Cook will receive eight hours of paid time off.