Patients Ask: ‘Where’s Jerald?’

Rehabilitation technician Jerald Briggs has worked in the wound care clinic at Methodist Hospital for 31 years. His dedication has not gone unnoticed by patients and team members. 

On any given day, it doesn’t matter how busy things are in the basement of Methodist Hospital patients coming into the wound care clinic ask: “Where’s Jerald?”

He’s known for his calm demeanor, his enthusiasm and . . . his favorite quotes.

“Jerald has been a rehab technician for longer than my tenure here and when I first started you couldn’t go 10 feet in this hospital without someone knowing Jerald. He’s part of our foundation of Methodist Hospital and when he’s not here patients miss him,” said Elizabeth Altenburger, team lead in rehabilitation services. “He’s one of the most common names that appears on patient feedback forms. He is joyful, silly, makes our team members laugh, he listens and hears patients and will do anything to make their experience better,” said Altenburger.

Co-workers often share Briggs’ favorite quotes (Jeraldisms):  “It ain’t that deep,” “Tell the truth and shame the devil.”

The goal in rehabilitation services is to help patients heal, but sometimes patients return to the clinic many times. Briggs gets to know the patients well and their families too, said Altenburger. He’s been known to transport patients on a long walk to their doctor appointments, follow them to their cars to help them adjust their seats, and take time to simply talk to them about their lives.

“Jerald is the heart of our clinic. I always think how lucky we are to have someone who so beautifully reflects our level of patient care,” said Altenburger. She added that Briggs is the recipient of the annual Melin Award, from the late Dr. John R. Melin and his wife Virginia Melin. The award recognizes Methodist Hospital employees who have gone above and beyond to serve patients. Specifically, the award recognizes someone who interacts well with others, a mentor to other employees, someone who is consistently excellent in their daily work, has earned respect and admiration of their peers, and someone who dedicated years of service to Methodist Hospital.

After three decades of service to Methodist Hospital Briggs says he can’t imagine working anywhere else. He was born in northwest Kentucky in the town of Sturgis. Moved to Franklin, In. for junior high and high school and eventually to Indianapolis. Briggs was married in 1979 and started working at IU Health on Aug. 17, 1987. He has two children – one daughter deceased, and a son. His first marriage ended in divorce. Two years ago he married his partner Ken Nix. 

“I love people and I love working in physical therapy. My mother worked in a hospital in housekeeping and we were so close that I wanted to work in a hospital,” said Briggs, the fourth child born to Frances Collins, who died four years ago. He started his job as a transporter and spent six months training as a technician. About 50 percent of his job involves moving patients. The other part of his job involves cleaning rooms for patients, ordering supplies and assisting therapists at work. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make a patient comfortable. If they need ice water, I’ll get ice water; if they need someone to talk to, I’m there for them,” said Briggs. “At the end of the day, I just want to know that I’ve helped someone, encouraged them and that they understand what they’re going through is just a test. God will bring them through it.”

More about Briggs:

  • He had a twin brother, Joel who died Feb. 1, 2017.
  • He grew up singing music in the church choir; his grandmother the late Fannie McGuire was the minister of music.
  • He loves music – especially R & B and gospel. He and his spouse Ken sing in the church choir and have traveled with the praise team to perform in Huntington, W.V.

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at
 T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.