I met Christopher Tarbassian approximately five years ago. My mother had fallen and fractured her pelvis. When she arrived at Brigham and Women’s Hospital emergency room, she was scared and confused. Christopher made my mother feel at ease. She could see that he truly cared. Chris looked familiar to me. I realized that I had seen an article about him in the Metrowest section. Chris was founder of a non-profit organization named Operation Comix Relief. Chris spends countless hours sending comic books to soldiers stationed all over the world. He attends comic book conventions raising much-needed funds and awareness so Americans will not forget those who are serving us daily oversees. When Chris is not saving lives in the Trauma Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he is addressing and stuffing envelopes that are headed for various destinations. Chris is a caring and compassionate nurse who does all he can to comfort his fellow man.
—Nominated by Robin Carlin
Dianne has been in nursing for 25-30 years. She is dedicated to her patients and would do anything for them.
—Nominated by Nancy Coakley
My dad was a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as an Alzheimer’s patient with many medical complications. Under Jackie’s leadership, she ensured that the nursing care my dad received was outstanding. Even more, she ensured he was treated with dignity and respect and he received outstanding care with the very best staff at BWH. Thank you.
—Nominated by Debra Faletra
Karen Heraty is the kindest, most dedicated, selfless nurse I have ever encountered. This past November, I had a very serious medical event and Karen was there for me every step of the way. Her quiet manner is so very comforting that it got me through the most traumatic month of my life. She explained the medical terms and medications and helped with difficult decisions during stressful times. Karen is our Nurse Angel who we cherish. Several years ago, when my mother was in the late stages of colon cancer, Karen would come after her full-time shift to stay and care for her throughout the entire six months. She also came to several doctors’ appointments and helped explain the medical jargon and would advise us in many difficult decisions. There are not enough words to describe how proud I am to have her in my life.
—Nominated by Anne K. McQuade
I was admitted to the hospital for high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. During that time, my quality of life was poor. I was vomiting, and I developed thrush because of my lack of white blood cells, which caused severe pain in my mouth and throat that could not be controlled by any form of pain medication. I couldn’t eat, and even drinking was difficult and painful. As a result, I became very irritable at times. The nurses didn’t hold it against me, for which I am very grateful, and one nurse in particular was extremely caring and helpful. She had a sense of humor that made me smile despite my situation, and she was always willing to sit down and keep me company or bring me anything I might need, such as warm blankets or water. She always had kind words for me if I was feeling down, and I really appreciated her compassion.
Michael Luke Pelack IV (celebrating four generations) was born at 11:08 a.m. weighing 4.4 pounds on Jan 17, 2013. After several rounds of failed IVFs and miscarriages for his mother, Michael was born eight weeks premature and spent weeks in neonatal intensive care, where he was preciously cared for by his primary nurse, Becky Laclair. She nurtured him physically and emotionally, bestowing upon him both her professional nursing skills and her doting love. As his mother, who lived an hour away, it was difficult for me to leave the NICU to go home to take care of my other children, but I could sleep at night knowing Becky was watching over Michael as his guardian angel. I knew Becky was feeding him, administering medicine, watching breathing machines, and genuinely nursing him as if she was his NICU mother. It was more than a job for her; it was a calling to tend to the needs of these precious little babies who depended on her for their lives. I am overjoyed that Michael is now home and thriving as a perfectly healthy baby boy. Please help me in saluting Becky’s dedication to all her babies, the most helpless of patients.
—Nominated by Jennifer O’Connor
Joy Marchione, David Molway, Marilyn Murphy, Claire O’Connell, Erica Cabral, Brenda Craig, and Linda Shippee
Our 21-year-old son, Eric Chase, was a patient on the Burn ICU from April 2012 until the third week of June 2012. During the almost two months on the ICU, a whole team of nurses needed to work collaboratively to take care of Eric. We nominate the whole team of Joy Marchione, David Molway, Marilyn Murphy, Claire O’Connell, Erica Cabral, Brenda Craig, and Linda Shippee. Eric was transferred to the Burn ICU with severe complications from a stem cell transplant. He was diagnosed with AML Leukemia in December 2011. After intensive chemotherapy, he achieved initial remission from leukemia. A stem cell transplant was his path to a cure. He had a perfect match, but things went terribly wrong. In a rapid progression, Eric lost 100 percent of his skin. We can hardly imagine the fear and pain he was in. Eric was consistently wrapped in bandages from his head to his toes. Every day, the nurses needed to unwrap these bandages, debride his skin, and reapply ointments. This was a lot of work,but the team of nurses connected with Eric so effectively that he was able to tolerate the procedure. This process of tending to skin was only one component of their overall care. Eric was gravely ill, with multiple organ systems compromised. For weeks he was on a tightrope between life and death. The nurses needed to be incredibly attentive to his complex medical needs and effective communicators with the large team of doctors involved. Morning rounds often involved 8-10 different medical providers. The nurses contributed to developing a daily plan and then they needed to consistently and accurately implement it. In conjunction with all of this medical sophistication, the nurses also needed to keep their hearts open to Eric and to us. After a long, torturous, courageous struggle, Eric lost his battle. He died June 28, 2012. We all wept together. Those women gave so much brilliance and compassion to Eric.
—Nominated by Don Chase and Nikki Fedele
Andres, Joe, Nancy, Sharon
“I’m ALIVE!’’ Those are the words I wrote in my journal during recovery from my mitral valve repair at Brigham and Women’s Hospital last August. Well before those two words, I made note of the excellent care received by the Cardiac Intensive Care nursing team: Andres, Joe, Nancy and Sharon. I am grateful for their knowledge, kindness, and generous effort to “nurse’’ me back to health. Dr. Couper prepared me well for the surgical process. He made reference to the nurse team that would care for me immediately after surgery. Little did I know they would prove to be my lifeline for communication, eating, cleanliness, and general recovery. Most impressive was their constant knowledge and encouragement. The evening of my surgery, Andres cared for me. His first responsibility was removing the breathing tube. When you think about it, this piece of equipment that keeps you alive during surgery is not a perfect fit for your body. Removing it can be painful, but Andres instructed me accordingly and in a moment it was out. What a relief. Later that night, Andres did something I will never forget. In my immoveable state, he was able to clean my weary body and change my bedding all without help. This middle-of-the-night act of kindness and professionalism confirmed that I was in excellent care. Seven months later, I feel great. I am walking three miles per day and have a repaired heart good for another 30 years.
—Nominated by Peter Hoekstra
Nurse Andy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s ICU was the best nurse my grandmother had while she was in there. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away, but Andy even showed up to the wake. My Nana loved him.
—Nominated by Lynne MacTaggart
Alexandra McLean, Heather Starr, Linda “BK,’’ Deb Donohue
We will not remember the day that we met.
But our mom and our dad will never forget.
No one was ready for us to arrive;
At only 27 weeks we needed help to survive.
Breathing tubes, monitors, and transfusions too;
Resting and growing was our life in the NICU.
Mom and Dad were nervous and anxious and scared,
But they thanked God each night that with you we were paired.
Your smiles and laughter and frequent pep talks
Lifted our spirits; we lived in a box!
You worked well as team with our best interest at heart,
And made our parents feel better, right from the start.
Each day that you saw us, Sandy, you held us tight
And taught Mom the secrets to bathing us right!
Your wisdom and passion are second to none,
Even though you were working, we always had fun.
It was with Linda “BK’’ that we learned to count sheep.
On the nights she was working our mom got some sleep.
Linda is lucky to have twin boys who are grown.
She gave priceless advice that she learned on her own.
When feeding was an issue, to Deb we all turned.
It was her compassion and patience that helped us to learn.
“Are they waking up hungry and showing readiness cues?’’ she would ask.
She is meticulous and thorough when completing a task.
Heather connected with our parents on day one.
She could tell they were nervous, but liked to have fun.
She’d take pictures and make posters of each little face.
And earned our dad’s trust by letting him set the pace.
Two two-pound babies brought many fears,
And the thought of leaving us each day filled Mom’s eyes with tears.
She worried and worried that we wouldn’t know love
But that changed in the instant she met the women above.
After 113 days, our NICU stay finally came to an end.
We know that we’ll miss you; our very first friends.
A big THANK YOU to Linda, Heather, Deb, and Sandy;
Each birthday we’ll visit and bring Halloween candy!
—Nominated by Charlie and Joey Munro
On February 1, 2013, I went to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital to have Cardiac Bypass Graft Artery surgery, aka “Triple Bypass.’’ For half that day, my life (and heart) was literally in the hands of my surgeon Dr. Sary Aranki. By noon, the surgery was successfully completed, and I was taken from the OR to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Brigham’s new Shapiro Cardiovascular Center. I was still completely asleep from the anesthesia injected into me during surgery. By late that afternoon, the anesthesia wore off sufficiently for me to wake up slightly and open my eyes. ICU Nurse Nancy Zesch was the first person I saw. At that moment, I realized that both my heart and brain still worked, and I was elated to have survived an operation I had feared for the past six years.
I was in the ICU for about three days. Those first days after surgery felt like I was visiting the deepest depths of hell. A friend who had this identical surgery told me those days would feel like a Mack truck drove directly over my chest. My chest felt like a piece of wood inside a carpenter’s vice. During those difficult days, I also had glimpses of several pleasures in this wondrous thing we call life. Like seeing my girlfriend Jill’s smile, which felt like heaven on earth. Like having my mom and a couple of other good friends there every day, too. Nurse Nancy was also one of those pleasures. During each of those first days, for 10 or 12 hour shifts, Nurse Nancy was there to get me through the pain, provide comfort wherever possible, and give me hope that those dark days would soon fade to lighter and brighter ones. Her decades of experience, her endless devotion to her craft, and her unyielding can-do spirit were obvious to me. I write in the hope that her talents get the kind of widespread recognition she deserves. She’s the best ICU nurse that Boston has to offer. And I am forever grateful for the luck that matched me up with her on that fateful day.
—Nominated by Glen Berkowitz