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How an Unexpected Military Decision Sent Ed Faircloth on His Career Path

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  • Written By: James Cramer
How an Unexpected Military Decision Sent Ed Faircloth on His Career Path

It took an unexpected change in the direction of his career in the Florida National Guard to set Ed Faircloth on his life’s path. One of the newest additions to the Flagler Health + Wall of Honor, his took a circuitous route to a storied career in helping others.

Never expecting a career in the medical field, Ed has brought his experiences serving our country for almost 32 years with the Florida National Guard and as an ER nurse to his current role as Quality Assurance Nurse for the Emergency Dept.

A lifelong resident of St. Augustine, Ed followed his father into the Florida National Guard and was originally trained as a welder in the 255th Engineer Company. When his guard unit was reclassified, he retrained as a medic and was shortly after sent to school to be trained as an LPN.

“As I graduated high school, I didn’t expect to be in the medical profession,” said Faircloth. “I had joined the Florida National Guard through my father Col. W.Y. Faircloth Jr who was the Director of Military Personnel for the State of Florida at the state headquarters. My unit was an engineering company at that time. It was determined that there were too many engineering companies, so they said “were going to make your unit a medical company and train you all as medics.”

Little did Ed know at the time, but this change set in place a career that has seen him serving others for more than 37 years.

“They retrained us as medics, redirecting my career focus to caring for others in the medical profession. I also had a medical background as an EMT and a volunteer firefighter for St. Johns County for 15 years, so that kind of rolled everything onto the right track. The military offered to send me to LPN school and after graduating worked at Orange Park Hospital for a few years as a nurse on a Medical Surgical Telemetry unit. I wanted to be in Emergency Medicine and to be a part of an Emergency Department. I was hired by the old St. Augustine General Hospital in 1984 and starting working in the ER as an LPN.”

A part of the Flagler Health + team since moving over from the St. Augustine General Hospital, Ed’s career path has taken him from being a staff nurse, to a charge nurse to his current position as a Quality Assurance Nurse for the Emergency Department at UF Health Flagler Hospital.

“I was an LPN for several years before I went back to nursing school and got my RN degree. In the last semester when of my RN program, I was deployed overseas to Iraq in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The hospital was great and my coworkers in the Emergency Department were very supportive. Actually, my co-workers sent me several care packages. We spent a year in the desert while deployed and it was so nice to get something from back home.”

It was during a second tour of duty in Iraq in 2008-09, that Ed really witnessed the support that exists here at Flagler Health+.

“They supported me so well while I was gone. It was a seamless transition when I came back,” added Ed. “That’s the greatest thing. Not all employers treat their people like that, even though they should.

The experiences he had in Florida National Guard, from which he retired as the First Sergeant of the 256th Area Support Medical Company in 2010, have helped him in his day-to-day duties back home.

“For me, it’s not as different as you would think. In the military you have to adjust and adapt to wherever you are, what’s going on. When I was in Iraq, I had to oversee four different operational locations across the entire country. Being in the ER, you learn that you have to take whatever comes through the door. It can be from a baby to an elderly adult. You have to be able to adapt and adjust to whatever is going on with that patient at that time.”

Ed has had many great and rewarding memories during his 37 years at Flagler Health+, including being a first-hand witness to its phenomenal growth over the years.

“I think one of the best moments was when they actually built our new ER. It used to be that there was a Flagler East and Flagler West and they were both 9-bed ERs. We finally built a new one here at the main campus that we had a 23-bed main facility and a 10-bed FastTrack. It really helped us and the community because we were able to get more people in and have them seen quicker because we had more room.”

As he looks to the future, Ed sees some challenges to the health care system that Flagler Health + is well positioned to address, including a more efficient continuity of care.

“I think one of the main challenges is to focus on how we can make a more seamless and smoother transition for ER visits to make sure that people are able to follow on as outpatients because there are so many people that don’t have their own primary doctors nowadays. They just depend on ER, you want them to have someone that knows them and that can follow-up ensuring they get good continuity of care.”

Ed recently celebrated 37 years with Flagler Health+, where he continues to serve the community that he has proudly called home for his entire life.