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The human side of nursing

April 30, 2010

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Jen Reader and Jen Harris: The Human Side

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center NICU

January 19, a normal day, another pregnancy milestone for my wife Cherie, our 30th week ultrasound exam, scheduled for 9 a.m. The day would be anything but normal. Something was wrong with the baby; he wasn’t growing and was in trouble. We were sent immediately to Beth Israel in Boston. It’s now 11 a.m. When we arrive we are shocked by the news; the baby will be delivered within 48 hours. Four hours later the team decided “we need to take the baby now,” further stunning us. At 5 p.m., Abe is born at 29 weeks, six days gestation. He weighs 1 lb., 8 oz., is tiny and very sick. We were petrified beyond words. How do you thank all who make up the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? We’re not sure, but two of Abe’s nurses, Jen Reader and Jen Harris, exhibited a level of excellence in their profession, which was demonstrated by their amazing care giving, compassion, and empathy. From the start, Jen R. requested Abe most days and Jen H. requested Abe most nights, on the 12-hour shifts they worked. They guided us and Abe through the language of preemies: SATs, Brady, PDA, ROP, RDS, BPD, CLD, blood gas and sugar, the hifi ventilator, CPAP, nasal cannula, the drugs, steroids, diuretics, the PIC lines, and IVs that scared us on a constant basis. They were there for us and for Abe and still are, even though Abe is 4 1/2 lbs. and doing better. It isn’t the marvel of medicine and science that has struck us the most, it is the human side. It is Jen and Jen whom we are grateful for, as any parent would be.

—Nominated by Howard and Cherie Rudzinsky

Michelle Daly: Taking the Fear Out of Infusions

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center at Faulkner Hospital

For the past year, I have had the good fortune to have the best infusion nurse that anyone could possibly ask for. In April of 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer. As you can well imagine, my life turned on a dime. The not knowing and uncertainty of it all was overwhelming. To make matters worse, I have a phobia about needles. My first visit to the Dana Farber Cancer Center at Faulkner Hospital was uncomfortable at best, scary at worst. My thoracic oncologist was informative and extremely steady, but I still was on edge. My second visit was for chemotherapy infusion. I had not slept well for days, but when I met Michelle, all the uncertainty and unknowns disappeared. Michelle took the time to explain everything step by step and made sense of what lay ahead. Her calm demeanor and constant concern was above and beyond anything I had experienced. She was like this with every patient in her care. She was concerned for my well-being and always two steps ahead of me in her explanations. She would call me at home, after infusions, to check on me. Michelle would always get answers to my questions; nothing was beyond her abilities. I always felt like I was her priority. In a day and age when we throw around the word “hero” so easily and idolize and worship athletes and actors as if they were gods and goddesses, I think we should recognize the true heroes. Michelle Daly is that true hero.

—Nominated by Connie Marsland

Mary Horn: Making a Bad Situation Bearable

Children’s Hospital Boston

As a new mom, hearing your child needs a tracheostomy is such blinding news. This is not the life you thought you would have with your new baby. You grieve and you are afraid of what having a child breathe through his neck means. While awaiting our son’s tracheostomy surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston, I was told we would meet with Mary Horn, a nurse involved in trach care. She brought with her a doll with a tracheostomy and started teaching me all about trachs. She was calm, caring, and very understanding. I was afraid for the worst, but when I met Mary, my fears were erased. She not only taught me how to care for my son with a tracheostomy, she gave me the confidence to do so. My son and I enjoyed a great summer together at home. Taking walks around the neighborhood, going to the zoo, trach gear in tow. We enjoyed our time with him to the fullest. Sadly, our son Jasper recently passed away due to complications from a severe heart defect. But I am so grateful for Mary’s teaching us to be a normal family, always being there with information or just an upbeat disposition. Because of her, we were able to be the parents we wanted to be for our son. Mary’s astounding work as a nurse inspired me to change careers and pursue nursing. So, as a woman in my mid 30’s, I am back in school working towards my RN and working part time as a nursing assistant. She has set a high standard for me to follow, and as I care for people now I always think of Mary dedication to her work and her care for her patients.

—Nominated by Rebecca Johnson