She’s known as “the country nurse.” Jacque Shroyer, who drives about 500 miles a week, visits patients in Cedar Creek, San Marcos, Kyle and Buda and all spots in between. “My jeep has 182,000 miles on it and I got it brand new five years ago,” she said with a chuckle.
Jacque, who is celebrating her 25th anniversary at Hospice Austin, has worked here longer than any other employee besides Executive Director Marjorie Mulanax. She worked as an on-call nurse on nights and weekends for most of that time but has served as an RN case manager for the last six years. As a case manager, Jacque is the primary nurse for her patients and also helps coordinate care from other members of the team.
Jacque knows what it’s like to lose someone – her son died several years ago, and her husband of 34 years passed away suddenly two years ago. The experience, she said, has made her more empathetic. If families learn about her loss, they want to know how she is coping; it gives them hope that they can cope with theirs, also.
“The grief is there all the time,” she explained, “but I think it makes me a better nurse. I’ve always leaned more toward the positive and I use a lot of humor. People respond to it.”
People respond to her humor, and they also respond to her huge heart and genuine interest in themselves. One of her patients, Dale Betsul, said that he spends a lot of time by himself, so it’s important to have a personal connection with his nurse.
“Jacque has a good personality,” he said. “She’s always in a good mood, with a smile on her face.”
Humor serves her well as a country nurse, also, since dealing with patients’ pets and farm animals are part of the job. One patient’s little black cat would always try to crawl into her nurse’s bag. Another patient’s Great Dane would lie on her feet so she couldn’t leave. One of her favorites, however, was Juan, the donkey.
To get to the patient’s house, Jacque had to drive through the first gate (which had a cattle guard, so they usually kept it open), and then the second gate, which separated the house from the fields. Juan the donkey lived in the field but would always want to go up to the house because his owners had treats piled up in a tin shed. He would go in and help himself. One day Juan’s owners told Jacque that Juan was getting worse about raiding the shed, so they asked her to keep the gate closed so he couldn’t get into the yard.
When Juan would see her jeep coming, he’d start running for the gate. He’d try to beat her there. One time she didn’t see him and wondered where he was. He was hiding. She saw him peeking his head out from around a brush pile, and then the race was on.
“He beat me to the gate pretty much every time,” Jacque remembered with a laugh. “He would always stick his nose in my window for pets. Sometimes I would leave the jeep sitting outside the second gate and walk through a side gate. He got mad one day and pulled the tie-dye cover off my spare tire and chewed it up. The patient was apologetic, but I didn’t mind. I liked Juan, he was fun.”