For the past several months, Gulfport emergency room nurse Kristin Hedrick and her colleagues have faced constant battles from not only routine and critical medical cases, but also learning how to serve thousands of new patients because of the pandemic.
The time has been extremely stressful for nurses and other medical professionals, and the challenges made Hedrick and her friends look for ways to relax, refresh, and energize. That’s how the Mugshots Grill & Bar location in Gulfport became one of their favorite hangouts. It was having dinner here with other nurses that Kristin found out about the annual Mugshots Picture Contest.
“It was so much fun and I was floored,” Hedrick exclaimed after finding out she won the contest. “All the people sharing it and stuff, this is crazy! You never know if you’re going to win or not, but I’m like ‘Keep voting! Just keep voting!’”
“We are honored to be able to give back to Kristin as she keeps giving back to others. We had some phenomenal entries this year and we thank everyone for sending in their photos,” explained Mugshots Grill & Bar owner and founder Ron Savell.
Hedrick’s selfie standing in front of a Rescue 5 life flight helicopter received more than half of the total amount of votes between five finalists. A group of nurses helped push her total so high.
“We as a group, Mugshots is kind of like an outlet,” Gem Gibbons, Hedrick’s friend and former boss, said. “We like to go after work to just kind of chill, have fun... talk through the day. She is an amazing person, she’s hilarious. She is probably the single funniest person I know, but she’s extremely dedicated to what she does and I have mad respect for who she is. She is honest, she is loyal, and she is amazing. I got involved because, to me, she is everything she should be as a person.”
Denise Quick, another nursing colleague, said it was an easy thing to promote Hedrick’s effort because Hedrick would do the same.
“Kristin’s so soft-hearted,” Quick said. “She cares about what she does, she cares about her friends, she is a well-rounded person. She would do anything for her friends and anyone who needed anything.”
“If any of us were up for something, she would absolutely 100 percent do everything she could to get us nominated. She always has your back,” childhood friend Kristin Taylor Peterson, who is also a nurse, added.
Although the honor of winning the contest comes with a prize of $2,500, Hedrick said it’s knowing the photo will be on the wall of her local Mugshots for which she’s most excited.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the money,” she said. “When I first started going to Mugshots, I’ve always wondered how do those people get their pictures on the wall. We found out about the competition and I was like, ‘We have to do this!’ That was my big thing. I wanted to win it just to go see my picture on the wall.”
Although living in Gulfport now, Hedrick is a native of Conehatta, a tiny community that’s part of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reservation in Newton County. She grew up in the hill country near Meridian, Newton, and Philadelphia, Mississippi. It was in this community where she first wanted to be a nurse, although she never dreamed about nursing during such a crazy time.
"It’s definitely been challenging,” she said. “It was a big transition to go from your normal nursing and then the pandemic hit and you have to learn how to redo nursing, if that makes sense. It’s been a whole relearning experience. I’ve got a lot of good experience as far as ICU nursing even though I work in the ER. It’s very humbling, very heartbreaking, but that’s what we do, that’s why we’re here pandemic or not.”