Beloved Nurse Celebrates 50 Years of Caring

Ann “AJ” Jackson, RN pictured with Lourdes “Lou” Filoteo, RN as part of drive-by 50-years of service celebration her colleagues in the maternity unit held for Jackson on Sunday, Sept. 13.

AJ—Ann Jackson, RN—says that nursing is in her DNA, literally.

“I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl,” says AJ. “It wasn’t until I had finished nursing school that I found out my grandmother was a nurse, so it truly is in my genes.”

Her love for nursing is at the core of why AJ is celebrating a rare, honorable milestone: 50 years as a nurse at Stanford Medicine.

“AJ is the first nurse, or one of the first, to be here 50 years,” says Lou Filoteo, AJ’s nurse manager. “I think she achieved it because nursing is not work for her, it’s a passion.”AJ started her nursing career in the pediatrics unit at the Children’s Hospital at Stanford in 1970. From there, she went to the pediatric ICU, but she found her true work home on the maternity unit’s night crew at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

“There is such joy in caring for moms and babies. Watching that start of life is really spiritually validating for me,” AJ says.

AJ creates family everywhere she goes—among her water Zumba classmates and fellow volunteers at the Sequoia YMCA, and amid her night crew nurses. Even with her patients.

Early on, she met a family whose daughter was receiving continual care at the hospital. They became what she calls her California family, filling the gap left by moving away from her real family in Montreal. 

“We have spent almost every holiday, birthday, and anniversary together for the last 50 years,” AJ says. “I count having really good friends as one of my biggest accomplishments in life.”

Another reason AJ’s heart has a soft spot for Stanford Medicine is because she met her husband, Steven Garland, here. He was working in the infant medical dispatch center doing NICU transports before going on to earn his law degree at Stanford University. The couple enjoy taking the train to San Francisco Giants games, long walks with their three rescue dogs, bumming on the beach, sharing meals with friends, and volunteering together. Recently, they were awarded the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for their outstanding and valuable service to the community.

“I believe in holding out a helping hand to people,” AJ says. “I listen to country music, and I recently heard a line that resonated: ‘In a world full of hate, be the light.’ I hope I’ve been a light.”

Lou confirms that she has, calling AJ genuinely warm and able to calm anxious new moms by reassuring them and creating trust.

“Nurses look to AJ as family. She’s the true north for our crew in a lot of ways. She’s a very strong advocate for nurses and patients,” Lou says. “She knows her values, and she isn’t shy about sharing them.”

AJ has some great memories of her time at Stanford Medicine and Packard Children’s. One occurred 20 years ago, on her last day on the pediatric ICU unit. A young woman came in asking for her. It turned out AJ had taken care of her as a baby with craniosynostosis. She wanted to thank AJ for inspiring her to start premed at Stanford University.

“It was so gestalt. It was my last day on the unit before transferring to maternity, and she came looking for me after all those years. That made me smile,” AJ says.

Another occurred in February 1976 when she was working in pediatrics. There was a rare snowstorm in Palo Alto.

“We had just settled everyone in for the night, and we looked out the window and saw it was snowing, so we woke up all the kids and opened the double doors to the patio playground area. It was so much fun to watch them experience the snow,” she says.

AJ is proud to be part of a renowned health system that gives outstanding care. She’s especially proud of her fellow nurses and the skills they have to care for moms well beyond the basics. 

“I love my co-workers on maternity night shift. They are such an awesome crew. There’s a real sense that we’re all in this together. And Lou has been such a stalwart supporter—she brings out the best in me,” AJ says. “I am incredibly grateful for my time at Stanford.”

AJ isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. But when she does, she’ll leave behind the imprint of what it means to be a great nurse on the hearts of all of her colleagues. 

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