It is my pleasure to nominate Beth Judge, RN, a long-time staff nurse at Mass General Hospital in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Beth’s forte comes to light when she is caring for the chronically, critically ill patient (and his or her family) whose clinical status lingers in the limbo of an acute illness still in need of ICU care, which prevents them from transitioning to a less acute setting. These clinical situations often can last for several days. During this time, patients often have an awareness of their illness, and with their highly anxious families, are in need of the emotional and psychological support that Beth is so good at providing.
One particular patient situation illustrates Beth’s healing power. She chose to be part of the care team that was caring for “‘G,’’ a man who waited several weeks for an organ transplant. His condition was such that venturing out of his room was an infrequent occurrence, so his life revolved around his routines and those who cared for him. In caring for him, Beth looked for ways to foster his independence and raise his spirits. She made a point of knowing his likes and dislikes, and worked with G to ensure his enjoyment of various aspects of his day-to-day routine. With her great expertise for caring for the pre-transplant patient, she had a great deal of insight and endless patience with G’s ups and downs and always supported him through this difficult waiting period. She showed her caring by promoting relaxation with massages, hair washings and TV watching. She listened attentively, sitting at his bedside. She fostered hope and resilience by designing a “Teaming Up with G’’ poster that contained positive affirmations and his care team’s signatures. G was moved by the team support this represented, and it came at a time when his spirits were in need of a boost. Unfortunately, G did not survive. Had he lived, he would have been able to speak of the wonderful care he received from his nurse Beth.
—Nominated by Sharon Sullivan
As an operating room nurse, you often don’t get to spend a significant amount of time with your patient before they are off to sleep. Cathy Holley demonstrates on a daily basis an ability to connect with her patients and place them at ease in a matter of moments. She is extremely caring and is able to easily project that to her patients. She is well-liked and respected by her patients as well as her peers.
—Nominated by Melissa Mattola-Kiatos
In my first year of retirement, at age 77, I was about to board a bus to attend the Metropolitan Opera in New York when I fell and broke my right hip. At MGH Orthopedic Trauma Unit I received excellent attention from all the nurses, but especially from Christine McCarthy, a Somerville nurse who impressed me with her caring and compassion. She simply stood out, a shining example of that esteemed profession.
—Nominated by Lorraine T. Nazzaro
It is truly my pleasure to nominate Elaine O’Hare, RN, for her outstanding work as a critical care nurse in the CICU at Mass General Hospital for many years. Throughout this time, Elaine has been a dedicated and committed bedside nurse who works hard seeing that every patient assigned to her receives the utmost in care. She makes every effort, and in many instances goes above and beyond, to provide for each patient’s needs. She puts the needs of her patient first in her thinking and doing. If you are fortunate to have Elaine as your nurse, she gives 110 percent of her time and attention. I would want her caring for my loved ones, if they were ever to be hospitalized. Elaine is one of the best nurses in my unit.
Elaine is meticulous in the care she provides. She carefully thinks through every clinical decision, seeking out help when needed. Her wonderful kindness and compassion are clearly evident in every interaction whether with a patient, family member, or colleague. Her compassion is a strength that is noticed by many and her patient assignments are often those patients who are overly anxious or needy. She immediately goes to work calming their fears and decreasing their anxiety. By the end of her shift, she has worked her magic and her patients have greatly benefited from the attention Elaine has bestowed on them.
Recently, she was assigned to an elderly woman who was hospitalized for a major health crisis. At the beginning of the shift, the woman appeared distressed, anxious, and uncomfortable. She needed frequent interventions to meet her physical and emotional needs. Elaine intuitively knew what would work to calm and comfort this woman. She also educated the family as to her plan of action and engaged their support. In a matter of hours, she had achieved her goal of making this patient comfortable and content. This is so typical of Elaine.
She goes about her nursing work, never seeking or desiring recognition for what she does every day. Having witnessed her wonderful bedside manner and growing expertise as a critical care nurse, my desire is that she receive recognition for her magnificent nursing endeavors.
—Nominated by Sharon Sullivan
I would like to nominate Elizabeth Martins for my care in January.
—Nominated by Pam Bouvier
In February 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Heather is the nurse in my plastic surgeon’s office. She went above and beyond any nurse I have ever met. She listened to my every concern and fear during a very scary process. She became one of my support people through my several surgeries. She let me cry and vent and made sure I got additional support, even when I didn’t think I needed it. I am happy to call her my nurse.
—Nominated by Laura Robbins
I delivered a baby boy six weeks early at Mass General. Not only was my son premature, he was born with Trisomy 18. He was placed in the NICU where we met his nurse, Heidi Baldacci. Right from the start, I liked her. She understood what a difficult time this was for my family and she treated us with the utmost respect. Not only did she give my son the best care, but she was extremely loving to him. She also took care of our needs. She was knowledgeable and able to answer any questions we asked; if she didn’t know the answer she found out for us. When the decision was made to let my son go, she reassured us that we were doing the right thing. We had a very large family come in to say goodbye and she made sure that everyone had a chance to hold him. She even took pictures and gave them to us as keepsakes. Heidi laughed with us, cried with us, and listened to all our stories. She felt like she was part of our family. She stayed with us right up until the end and made sure we were all okay. After we left the hospital, I thought that would be the end of our relationship, but I was wrong. Heidi attended my son’s funeral and has called me to see how we’re doing. Heidi was the most compassionate nurse I have ever met, and I can’t thank her enough for the love she gave to my son and my family.
—Nominated by Stacey Mancuso
Heidi Potvin has been my primary oncology nurse at MGH Cox Cancer Center since 2009. During this entire time, she has been a superb, caring, warmhearted, knowledgable, and professional nurse, always concerned about my comfort and well-being. Heidi works at the Cox Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, commutes long distance to MGH, leaving home and three young children at 4:30 in the morning, and stays at the hospital until the last patient is ready to leave (often as late as 7 p.m.). I have come to think of her as a caring friend who has helped me navigate the ups and downs of my cancers, which include both leukemia and lymphoma. All of the nurses at the Cox Center are wonderful, but she is special to us. I have spent the most time with her. She has gotten to know our family and we have gotten to know her family through our conversations. My wife and I have come to think of her as part of our family. I salute her and am very grateful to her for going the extra mile every time I am in her care.
—Nominated by Axel Kaufmann
I nominate Kana Augen, the nursing assistant who is assigned to the Cardiac ICU at Mass General Hospital. Kana currently works in a nursing assistant role, but prior to this had worked as a nurse in her native country of Japan. She is hard at work studying to pass the Massachusetts nursing boards to become a registered nurse. Kana works the day shift with me, and I constantly call upon her to assist me in the care of my patients. In each instance, she immediately knows what needs to be done, gathers the supplies, and jumps right in to help with the patient care tasks. Her quiet confidence and support make my job that much easier; she is an invaluable member of our support team. Recently, during an extremely busy period, I was assigned a patient who had a life-threatening crisis that quickly deteriorated into an emergency situation. Kana was there in the patient’s room with me, obtaining the needed equipment, being my second pair of hands, and with her able support, this patient went on to make a full recovery. Kana is a hard worker who makes every effort to complete each task to the very best of her ability. I admire her work ethic, her pleasant manner, and can-do approach to her job. We are lucky to have her as our nursing assistant. She is extraordinary.
—Nominated by Sharon Sullivan
Never would I think a simple shampoo cap would lead to such admiration, respect, awe, and indebted gratitude. After battling the 2013 blizzard, Karen cared for my mom, who was truly fighting for her life in the SICU at MGH. Despite my mom’s Alzheimer’s, Karen saw her sparkle. She continued to say to my mom, “I know you are there, I can see it,’’ and it meant the world to my family. Her use of a trauma shampoo cap and cool hairdryer helped cool mom’s fever and started her on a recovery path no one thought possible.
—Nominated by Karen Lubeck
Leah Giunta, Mary Lievens, and Catherine Wetzel
Nurse practitioners Leah Giunta, Mary Lievens, and Catherine Wetzel exemplified the highest level of professionalism, patient care, and compassion during my many office and emergency room visits in 2012. Their standards should be an example for nurses at all hospitals to epitomize. It was impossible for me to single out one, as I consider these three nurses to be the best of the best in their areas of expertise and especially their patient care in emergency and non-emergency situations. I feel that my patient care at MGH would not have been as complete without their special involvement.
—Nominated by George Doorakian
All Nurses, All Shifts
On Feb. 18, 2012 I was admitted to MGH after collapsing from a bleeding ulcer in my lower spine area. After being placed in a bed, I started bleeding to death from a broken artery. I was rushed to the ER and then to intensive care, where I remained for more than a week. I was at the hospital for 33 days and transferred to a rehabilitation facility. The care I received from all the nurses at Mass General was lifesaving. They were all fabulous to me. Without their care I would have died. They helped give me the strength to live. I will never forget that experience. God bless you all from the bottom of my heart.
—Nominated by Jeffrey Darling
Mallory Hines and Lori, Ela, Bridget, Val, Ted, Devin
I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and was facing dialysis three times a week, four hours a day. As a 25-year-old guy, this was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. It happened that I was scheduled for fistula surgery on Jan. 7, but a kidney donor was found and I received that kidney on January 3, a day that changed my life forever. When I awoke after surgery, there was a large handwritten note on the board in my room stating: “CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW KIDNEY, DEREK!’’ signed by the nurses that would be taking care of me: Ted, Lori, Mallory, Elizabeth, Bridget, Val, Ela, and Devin. These remarkable individuals made what could have been a frightening circumstance into one of hope and promise. They did everything, from helping me walk right after surgery, to letting me know what to expect when I returned home. Without them, I would have not been able to deal with the situation and all the uncertainties. Each nurse was unique and each one was remarkable. I found out that the caring attention of a good nurse is just as important as a major operation by a good surgeon. Believe me when I say that nurses are the heart of healthcare.
—Nominated by Derek F. Brown
Martha Sergel, RN, has been a staff nurse in the Mass General Hospital’s Cardiac ICU for over 25 years. Having worked with Martha for all of those years, I have been a witness to her superb nursing care. Recently, for example, she was assigned to a patient who had experienced a catastrophic cardiac event and had dysfunction in multiple organs. This unfortunate situation was compounded by the patient’s overall poor health, which made caring for him much more challenging. Family members were at the patient’s bedside throughout the day. Martha worked tirelessly to keep the patient comfortable and stable while also supporting the family’s needs. Once patients (and families) realize that Martha has their undivided attention, they become less anxious and distressed. Then they can feel and witness her power of caring.
—Nominated by Sharon Sullivan
Nurses of Bigelow 13
The nurses of Bigelow are amazing. They have been in and out of my life for the past 10 years, most recently during my treatment for breast cancer. These nurses deal with burn patients and plastic surgery patients and are extremely compassionate with everyone. They care not only for the patients, but also the families, helping them to know how to handle things once home.
—Nominated by Laura Robbins
Sharon Sullivan is an outstanding RN and source of care and support for both her patients and her colleagues. She is a most valued and trusted team member and a true professional.
—Nominated by Beth Savage
Stephanie and I were introduced in September 2011. I had had several cardiac arrests and was receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a technique for patients with severely diseased heart and lungs. It was decided then that I would benefit from a Left Ventricular Assist Device as a bridge to transplant. Stephanie was there, constantly teaching me about what to expect once I was discharged and what I would need to ensure that I would not require additional hospitalizations. Out of the hospital, Stephanie showed more dedication than I thought was possible.
—Nominated by Ryan H. Naismith
Jen Murray, Stephanie Sarcione
My name is Ed Beatrice and I am 51 years old. I started playing softball in a men’s league in the summer of 2011. Sliding into home, I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. Surgery was scheduled on Columbus Day weekend of October 2011. Unfortunately, surgery at a North Shore hospital where I was originally treated did not go well. The pain was pretty extreme and I was taking pain meds to help relieve it. The pain meds were masking a high temperature caused by a bacterial infection in my shoulder. By Tuesday morning, I was in an ambulance on my way to emergency surgery. It was determined that my body was shutting down, and I was put on life support in critical condition. When I finally awoke from my medically induced coma, I was at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I would remain for more than three-and-a-half months. I had suffered septic shock and both of my kidneys shut down. I am in end-stage renal failure and require 12 hours of dialysis every week. All of the nurses at MGH were incredible, but two stand out above the rest: Jen Murray and Stephanie Sarcione. Their dedication, patience, professionalism, and genuine caring were beyond what I ever envisioned was possible. I honestly don’t know if I would have survived without them. It was humbling, because what they gave me was far more than I could ever dream was possible. They are truly doing God’s work and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
—Nominated by Edward Beatrice
Mary Pat Lowe
Mary is my daughter, the third oldest of 10 children who worked herself up to this job after graduating from nursing school. She is married and has three grown children. She works constantly, filling in whenever she is called for. Mary genuinely cares for all our family: her father and mother (we are 88 and 80), 24 nieces and nephews, and our great grandchildren. She holds a place of honor in my mind.
—Nominated by Christina McCarthy
Molly Rossenwassen was a very caring, concerned nurse. I had a tube from my nose to my stomach, and it was leaking into my throat. I had been complaining for a few days, but she was the one who took the time to find out what was wrong. She consulted a doctor, who removed it immediately.
—Nominated by Lucille M. Lustig
My daughter Suzanne Stanton is a labor and delivery nurse at MGH. I do not know personally of her work in that capacity, but rather as a compassionate and caring daughter when it came to helping her father after discharge from hospitalization. Her father suffers from a 15-year diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease and will turn 80 in May. He fell at home on the stairs, fractured his clavicle, and suffered a head injury. The hospitalization left him extremely confused; he never fully understood that he was in the hospital. Upon discharge, Suzanne took charge as a nurse, rather than as a daughter, and acted with patience, firmness, and knowledge. She was persuasive and firm when the occasion warranted, but always gentle and not demanding. It was impressive. Because I do not know of her work at MGH, except for a few isolated events over the years and the privilege of having met a number of her work-related friends, I can only repeat their words of praise for her capabilities.
Suzanne’s nursing career began immediately following graduation from the University of Vermont when she accepted a job at Johns Hopkins Labor and Delivery Department in Baltimore. She worked hard and learned well. Her years at MGH have coincided with marriage, the birth of three children, and the addition of a dog to the mix. Her friends at work tell me she arrives at work ready to take care of any patient, any hint of her home life, chaotic as it may be, left behind. A clinical detachment, coupled with a sense of humor, takes her nursing skills to the next level and makes her one of the best. Certainly, her father would agree.
—Nominated by Marcia Mather
Karen and Lisa
I would like to nominate Karen and Lisa from Bigelow 9 for my care last March.
—Nominated by Leslie J. Luongo
Although I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years, I knew little about being a patient. I had never been to an infusion unit before my first chemotherapy treatment at MGH. I met Daunielle Ricardo for the first time after settling into my recliner. “So you’re a nurse,’’ she said, “how does it feel to be a patient?’’ Her kind eyes and gentle questioning allowed me to feel I was with a colleague, but she was very reassuring as I told her I had little insight into what happened or what to expect from this chapter of my breast cancer treatment. I was impressed with the number of safety checks Daunielle focused on to minimize any chance of error. She never made these feel trivial. She never assumed I knew all about the medications or side effects. She treated me as a patient first, transitioning to “nurse talk’’ based on cues I gave her. Daunielle admired my hair at my first chemo session, knowing it would all be gone the next time I saw her. I had just picked up my wig, and we laughed about how there would be no “bad hair days,’’ just “no hair days’’ for several months. Despite the fatigue and body aches following each chemo infusion, I looked forward to seeing Daunielle, which helped make my chemo days okay. Although my veins got wimpy, Daunielle was a pro. If it made her nervous wondering whether she could get a good site, she never let it show. At the outset, six months of chemo sounded overwhelming. My body was grateful to get through the last of the infusions, and my mind and spirit were grateful to Daunielle for caring for me with such skill.
—Nominated by Laura Long
Vanessa was my chemotherapy/infusion nurse doing two rounds of intensive chemotherapy I received after my breast cancer diagnosis in August. I have been a nurse for 34 years. My job is to supervise and work clinically with nursing and ancillary staff in a community hospital. The transition from being a strong, organized, multitasking, responsible person to a dependent and ill-feeling patient was very difficult for me. The time between diagnosis and treatment was only two weeks, and when I arrived for my first dose of chemo, I was still in shock and denial. Vanessa’s warm greeting put me at ease immediately. She was obviously very busy, but found time to sit with me and my partner, Tim, and explain everything that was going to happen each treatment day. She discussed my lab work with me, realizing that I would want to know my numbers. I was comforted by the fact that she easily discussed my protocol, the medications I was to receive, and how to deal with possible side effects. She asked just enough personal information to assess my learning needs and make me feel she was interested in my life. When we were finished for the day, she gave me a goodbye hug that I won’t ever forget. I let go first and she continued to hug me so warmly I got tears in my eyes. She frequently touches me, holding my feet through the blanket, while we talk. A quick, reassuring pat on the arm is commonplace. I have always touched my patients, but being on the receiving end has renewed my respect for the incredible power of this very simple practice. When I had surgery after 12 weeks of chemo, I was so happy to email Vanessa that my pathology report was completely free of disease. Arriving for my second round of chemo, I felt I was being reunited with an old friend. I consider myself blessed to have been treated with unfailing dignity, respect, and compassion during a terrifying period in my life.
—Nominated by Lorraine Eldridge