Texas Nurse Has Served 3 Administrations


Posted to Nursing, Nursing News

Image of the Texas State Capitol courtesy of adpal3180 via Flickr

One of Tim Flynn’s first duties as the first full-time nurse for the Texas State Capitol was to give then-Governor Ann Richards a flu shot. He was nervous enough that he forgot to bring a band-aid, which led Gov. Richards to warn him that he better not let any blood sully her $300 silk blouse!

He did his job carefully and well and her blouse was safe. His job was safe too evidently, because he’s been the Capitol nurse for the two decades since then, according to this profile of Mr. Flynn in the New York Times.

Through the administrations of Ms. Richards, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, Mr. Flynn has been at the Capitol to dispense flu shots, treat sinus infections, and provide patient education to lawmakers.

Everyone in the Capitol knows him and trusts him. Representative Rick Hardcastle says, “He knows I have bad allergies because he’s seen me before. It’s like going to see your family doctor.”

Even though he loved his job, he did get frustrated that he wasn’t able to write prescriptions or diagnose illnesses. So he decided to go back to school and become a nurse practitioner, graduating from the University of Texas in 2002.

As a state employee, Mr. Flynn does not charge patients. His Capitol clinic operates on a first-come, first-served basis. When children on school trips fall down, they go to him. State employees drop by when they have headaches.

“I love my job,” he said. “After being here 20 years, I know most of the folks that work here. I know their medical histories, their idiosyncrasies. This is my community. That’s why I call it my Capitol.”

In emergencies, Mr. Flynn is one of the first on the scene, providing life support until paramedics arrive. In 1999, when a Capitol parking guard was found slumped over his desk and suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding, Mr. Flynn treated him for shock before paramedics arrived and saved the man’s life.

Responding to emergencies is the smallest part of his job, Mr. Flynn said. He spends most of his time on procedures like treating strep throat, saving patients a trip to their primary care providers.

His job takes on added importance during the biennial legislative sessions, when lawmakers convene for 140 days at the Capitol.

“When it’s crunch time, I don’t have to call a doctor; I can go down to Tim’s office,” Mr. Hardcastle said. “When you have the flu during the night and you’re working on legislation, you need treatment. His job is vital to what we do.”