Thirty years of nursing – humor calms their nerves

Nurse Steve Allgood, who works in intervention radiology has learned over the years that keeping things light is the best way to put patients at ease.

When they get to him, patients are receiving biopsies and CAT scans. They know there could be some unpleasant news from the results. It’s not Steve Allgood’s job to deliver the news – good or bad. It’s his job to keep patients safe and secure.

“I start my day by preparing rooms for biopsies and then I monitor the patient during sedation, and transport the patient to recovery,” said Allgood, who has been a nurse for 30 years. He started his career working in ICU and then moved to the cardiac cath lab – working at IU Health North and IU Health West – before coming to University Hospital.

His primary patients are those diagnosed with cancer. Over the years, he’s learned that when patients come in for biopsies or scans they are nervous. Their mind is on the results. He doesn’t offer them results – most results take about three to five days and are reported by the patient’s physician.

“Most patients have been diagnosed, some not, but something’s happened and they’ve had a CT scan and need a biopsy to find out what it is,” said Allgood. “I really try to be myself and I’m a jokester. I try to keep the humor in the air. It helps alleviate the stress. Most people say the joking calms them. I think if you‘re way too serious it scares the patient and does not ease the tension of what they are going through.”

He’s also known to ease the nerves by sharing his life story.

“I grew up poor in Puerto Rico. My mother is Puerto Rican and she took me there to live. I started working in a slaughter house at age of 12 to help out at home,” said Allgood. At a young age, he served in the US Air Force, in search of an education to improve his life and earned a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Science. He worked for a time as an engineer manufacturing military aircraft and then decided to go to nursing school.

“At the time there was a nursing shortage and 12 pages of newspaper ads for nurses. I was a single man in a hospital full of women,” said Allgood.

Over time he has become known around his department for his ability to start an IV on most any patient. “It can be a challenge but I probably start 25 a day because I get called into a lot of procedures and departments to offer assistance”

More about Allgood:

  • What makes him a good nurse: “I care about the people I take care of and what they’re going through.”
  • Personal: He married his wife Debra December of 2017. They met salsa dancing. He has two daughters, 21 and 23.
  • Hobbies: In addition to salsa dancing with his wife, Allgood restores old muscle cars and has been scuba diving for nearly 50 years. 
  • What would surprise people to learn: “Most are pretty surprised to learn I’m Puerto Rican. I speak fluent Spanish – grew up speaking it.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
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