West Point medical community mourns nurse

Nancy Turnage Swift
Staff Writer

The West Point medical community is mourning one of its own after a former North Mississippi Medical Center nurse and administrator was shot and killed by a disgruntled employee at the University of Alabama Birmingham Highlands Wednesday night.

Nancy Turnage Swift, who was a nursing supervisor at the UAB facility, worked at NMMC in West Point from 1995 to 2007 in several positions, the last of which was director of clinical quality.

The hospital held a prayer service Thursday in her memory.

"She was well-liked and respected by everyone," said Deborah Pugh, a NMMC spokesperson who worked with Swift.

According to police, the 63-year-old Hatley native was killed at about 7 p.m. Wednesday in a shooting in or near her second-floor office near the operating room at the 11th Avenue South facility. Police say Swift was reprimanding an employee - 31-year-old central sterile supply worker Trevis Devon Coleman - who then brandished a gun and opened fire.

Police said Swift was shot, as was a 28-year-old instrument management supervisor Tim Isley, who underwent surgery and survived. After shooting the two, the suspect turned the gun on himself and died on the scene from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police said Coleman previously had problems at work.

Swift died at about 9 p.m. She lived in Shelby County with her husband.

Before moving to Alabama, she lived in Columbus and worked in West Point.

"We were all family, you just never expect something like this," said Brenda Johnson, human resources director at NMMC-West Point. "She was family to everyone. Someone said today that people just think everyone who works at the hospital is smart. Nancy was extremely smart.

"She was so unselfish. She always put other people first. She was such an exceptional person," Johnson concluded.

Swift's daughter still works with the NMMC group.

UAB Hospital Vice President Anthony Patterson called the shooting a horrific tragedy. "This is a sad day for Birmingham UAB. We lost a colleague and a friend last night,'' he said. "First I want to offer my sincerest condolences to the victims who have suffered and to their family and colleagues who are grieving this senseless loss of life and injury."

Authorities said there are metal detectors at UAB Highlands and they were in use on Wednesday. "We have extensive security measures in place that include police officers on site 24-7 as well as others that we do not publicly disclose in the interest of safety."

Friends and family of Swift gathered at her Pelham home Thursday, but said they weren't yet ready to talk about what happened.

According to Al.com, Coleman's family declined to comment on the shooting, but friends of Coleman, who had no criminal record, said what happened at the hospital was unexpected.