The WellSpan Spotlight

Bright spots

WellSpan BrightSpot: Mrs. Tice brings joy from the classroom to the hospital 

WellSpan BrightSpot: Mrs. Tice brings joy from the classroom to the hospital

Who: Gloria Tice, who taught music for 33 years in Lebanon schools and now works at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital as a patient safety aide, or sitter, where her background and personal story help her connect to patients. 

What: After her retirement from teaching in 2020, Gloria ran into Patty Donley, a former student who now happens to be the president of the hospital. (Gloria is one of those people who seems to know everyone in Lebanon, where community roots run deep. When her kids were little, they used to complain that they couldn't go anywhere without their mom stopping to talk to or hug someone.) 

Gloria recalls, "Patty said, 'How are you enjoying retirement?' I said, 'I hate it!' She said, 'Have you ever considered health care? We could always use you at the hospital. I have a great job for you. It requires sitting with patients who need compassion and understanding during really challenging times in their lives .' I said, 'I want that job.' " 

A sitter provides patients with companionship and care, protecting those at risk for falls or impulsive behavior, or who require supervision due to behavioral health challenges. Gloria often sits with patients in the behavioral health holding area of Good Sam's emergency department, but also works wherever she is needed in other parts of the hospital. 

In the hallways and nursing units, she encounters many of her former students who also work there. Now adults, they have never forgotten their beloved music teacher and often are surprised to see her working in her new role at the hospital. 

Former student Mayalani Bracero, a nursing assistant, says when she helps to train new co-workers who also grew up in Lebanon, they will see Gloria and say, "Isn't that the music teacher?!" 

Alexandra Rivera Garcia, a nursing assistant in the emergency department and former student remembers, "The first time I saw her, she was sitting with a patient and I walked past. I had to come back and look at her and say, 'Wait a minute. I know that face!' She remembered me, which is crazy because it's been a long time." 

Samantha Boyer and Cristhian Torrez both work as transporters and both had Gloria as their elementary school teacher. Samantha remembers Gloria's beautiful singing voice and the instruments she let the students play. Cristhian remembers he and a bunch of his male elementary school buddies cheering like crazy when they asked Gloria if she could play the theme song to "Call of Duty," and she could and did! 

Gloria's former students also work across the WellSpan system and include Dr. Rhian Davies, an interventional cardiologist at WellSpan York Hospital. Gloria remembers Dr. Davies for her bright smile and quick intelligence. Dr. Davies remembers Mrs. Tice for her fun classroom and pep. 

Words to live by: Gloria says she loves her second career and feels a special connection with patients she sits with, because she has experienced her own mental health challenges, as have members of her family. 

"I know what these people are going through. I feel like I have something to offer them, the understanding and compassion," she says. "I can reinforce the resources. I say, 'Go to wherever you're going with an open mind. You might hear some advice that can benefit you.' " 

Her former students say Gloria brings the same special qualities she had in the classroom to her work at the hospital. 

"I see her working with older people and kids, sometimes the same kids she taught," Alexandra says. "It's like a big switch for the patients who had her, but it makes them calmer, and they know they can trust her. 

"Her personality is really joyful. If you are having a bad day, she can get you to smile. Her smile! It's great. She brings joy to the hospital and to real life. Anywhere Mrs. Tice is, the room just lights up with her. Mrs. Tice is a person you can never forget."