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10th Annual Salute to Nurses

The Drama of the Simple Gesture

May 6, 2012
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Much of the way nurses learn and practice has changed considerably over the past decade, but two thing never change, the value of what they do and their commitment to the people they serve. In this 10th anniversary year of the “Salute to Nurses,” we pause to look at how the nursing landscape has evolved over time. New training strategies, reforms in healthcare policy and law, advancing technologies and cure rates, demographics, expanded opportunities and specialties, and a host of other factors have had an impact on the lives of patients and the nurses who care for them.

Inside, we offer a glimpse inside the hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, doctors’ office, and schools where thousands of nurses work 24/7 to help the ailing, the aging, and the newly arriving. We asked our readers, through posters in hospitals and announcements in the Globe and on, for their perspective on the nursing experience by nominating their favorite caregivers. Hundreds of letters poured in. There can be no doubt—the level of intelligence and compassion of our nurses is heartwarming. This sampling of letters shows why.

A Renaissance Woman

Jennifer E. Lee, Newton-Wellesley Hospital

My daughter Alyssa was recently a patient at Newton Wellesley Hospital and the care she received from Jennifer Lee was extraordinary. Jennifer has six children at home under the age of eight. Her husband is serving in Afghanistan, yet she is the kind of Renaissance woman who can focus totally on her patients. This type of dedication should not go unnoticed by the folks who care about the quality of life in our country.

—Nominated by Allan Mills

Our Own Nightingale

Judy Dynan, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed as with a rare cancer known as Merkel cell carcinoma. After surgery, I was required to undergo chemotherapy at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. During my first treatment, I met nurse Judy Dynan, who administered the procedure. I was very apprehensive, but Judy immediately put me at ease. She explained exactly what was going to happen and what I would be going through for the next few hours. She also made clear any side effects that might occur after the process. During my subsequent treatments, Judy would visit my station often, making sure I was comfortable, providing a heated blanket if I was cold and easing my anxiety if I was nervous. During my chemotherapy sessions, Judy demonstrated to me, as well as to her other patients, how much she cared for our well-being. I referred to her as our Florence Nightingale.

—Nominated by John Tessicini

A Healing Touch

Judy Salibe, Home Health VNA

Judy Salibe has been my homecare nurse since my return from the rehabilitation hospital after having a shoulder replacement. I’ve had many serious surgeries in my life and this one was especially painful and difficult. I found Judy to be one of the most knowledgeable and caring nurses I have ever encountered. At one point, I got a very bad flu, and she called every day to see if I needed anything. Although I look forward to the day I get function back in my shoulder, I am not looking forward to not seeing her in my home. Just her touch on a down day can make me feel happy again.

—Nominated by Sidney Jenkins

The Gift of Encouragement

Carol O’Donnell, Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology

The phrase “you have cancer” can put a person into a robotic state. Go here for this test, go there for another exam/test, return for a consultation, etc., etc. My treatment nurse, Carol O’Donnell, magically (it seemed) put all things into perspective. She answered all my questions (even the stupid ones) and managed with her knowledge and positive attitude to encourage hope during a difficult time. Its takes a special kind of nurse to work in oncology and, thank goodness, that nurse is Carol O’Donnell.

—Nominated by Priscilla Davis

Like Family to Me

Tracy Tierney and Marjorie Carroll, Winchester Hospital

For the past year, I have been treated at Winchester Hospital Cancer Center for breast cancer. Everyone there, from my surgeon to my oncologist, has been outstanding, but I must especially mention my two treatment nurses, Tracy Tierney and Marjorie Carroll. I owe these two ladies so much for making my visits so comfortable. They are almost like family to me. They treat everyone with respect and care. I trust them, literally, with my life. These ladies truly deserve to be recognized for what they do everyday for others. They certainly have my greatest respect and gratitude. I love them both.

—Nominated by Diana M. Jay

Healing with Humor

Kerri Beliveau, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and in January 2012, I started chemotherapy at the Infusion Therapy Unit at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Kerri Beliveau, an extraordinary nurse and a caring human being, met me on each visit. From the moment we met, we connected, like two friends beginning a journey that, for me, was fraught with fear and anxiety. Kerri looked in my eyes and said with confidence, “You’ll get through this.” And I believed her. Somehow, I knew she would guide me through this most difficult time of my life. I was amazed at her competence. She helped me understand the action of each drug, explained the expected outcomes and unpleasant side effects. She had the most wonderful sense of humor; treatment time seemed shortened because we were able to laugh through the long hours. At the beginning and end of each treatment, we hugged. It was her way of bestowing that “healing touch” that is so important in medicine.

—Nominated by Audrey Davies

Help for the Homebound

Karen Furollo, Home Health VNA

Karen Furollo has so much compassion. She knows how to speak with patients when they are upset and worried. She has taken care of this homebound patient for some years now. All the nurses and health aides do a great job.

—Nominated by Phyllis Diodati

Always There

Tamara Hamparian, Hallmark Health Hematology and Oncology Center

Tamara has been my nurse for about seven years now and has always been there with compassion, advice, understanding, and utmost care. She makes my health and comfort a priority when I am in treatment. She’s always there to comfort me, as well as her other patients. She is a very special person.

—Nominated by Patricia R. Burke

Plucked from the Fast Lane

Sandra Ruland, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Chris was 36, married, and the father of two young children. He had a house in the suburbs and a fabulous job when he had a seizure at work. He was plucked from the fast lane and thrown into the terrifying world of a terminal illness. No symptoms, no warning, just a fatal diagnosis. For the next 18 months, he underwent a brain biopsy, radiation, chemotherapy, and two clinical trials. During the entire process, one nurse was by his side. Sandra Ruland was informative, empathetic, and understanding. She made an effort to see Chris as not just a patient but as a person. She knew he was a proud parent and would always ask about the kids and how they were doing. Sandra got to know all of Chris’s family and always wanted to know how everyone was handling the situation. When Chris died, the first person I heard from was Sandra. The only positive in the whole terrifying experience was getting to meet Sandra. She is a remarkable person. Involved in some of the saddest situations, she approaches everything with optimism.

—Nominated by Kathleen Ciauarro

Kindness and Caring

Karen Sullivan, Faulkner Hospital

Karen Sullivan took very good care of me at the Faulkner Hospital in January of this year. She is caring, compassionate, competent, kind, and attentive to the needs of the patient.

—Nominated by Nancy Carlson

A Nurse and Now a Daughter

Sheila Bennett Donlan , Tufts Medical Center

I had two surgeries at Tufts Medical Center. During my hospital stay, I had a most amazing nurse who made me feel as though everything would turn out okay. I decided I needed to introduce my thoughtful, caring nurse to my most wonderful son, my only child. In the ICU, my husband introduced Sheila Bennett to our son, David Donlan. They met and, thank God I live to tell the tale, they decided to go out on a date. They got married on August 28, 2010. I am proud to have this wonderful nurse as my daughter-in-law.

—Nominated by Vicki Donlan

Putting My Pieces Back Together

All Nurses Involved -- Boston Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Partners HealthCare

I would like to give a special shout out to all the nurses who took special care of me at Boston Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Partners Healthcare during the month of August 2011, after I suffered a serious bicycle accident. Without them, I’m not sure where I would be here today. Thank you for all your tireless efforts.

—Nominated by Karen Russell

Positive Role Models

Katherine Mandigo and Roberta Keresey, Norwood Hospital

Last November, I went to the Endoscopy Department at Norwood Hospital for a routine procedure and had the pleasure of meeting Roberta Keresey, who was assigned to me prior to my procedure. When it comes to patient care, education of the patient, comfort, knowledge, and overall politeness and respect, there is no one better than Roberta. The procedure went smoothly and I was provided with follow-up communication by Katherine Mandigo, nurse manager of that unit, who not only showed a concern for my well-being, but also provided answers to any questions I had. These two women are certainly positive role models and team members who represent their department and hospital well. They should be commended.

—Nominated by Steven Bagley

A Terrible Loss

Arlene M. DiCesare, New England Baptist Hospital

Arlene M DiCesare, an extraordinary nurse, passed away suddenly at age 48 on Dec. 16, 2011, leaving behind a shocked and devastated family and a wide circle of friends. Arlene was a certified infusion nurse practicing at New England Baptist Hospital and her loss extended itself deeply into the profession of nursing. She had been employed at NEBH for 21 years, where she so meticulously and compassionately cared for hundreds of patients over her career. Arlene had a way of relating gently and respectfully to all, especially “her patients.” She approached every day with a smile. Her family, her patients, and her colleagues certainly miss her, but the impact of this professional nurse will live on in the hearts of many forever.

—Nominated by Mary L. Walsh

Seven Years of Kindness

Debra LaFrankie, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Debra LaFrankie has been my neuro-oncology nurse for many years. I am so fortunate to know her. Debra sincerely cares about me, not just as a patient, but also as a person. There have been several times when my illness has been complicated by other illnesses and I’ve needed help at odd hours. No matter whether she is at home or at work, Debra always answers my emails within minutes. It’s been over seven years now. Doctors have come and gone, but Debra is still there, helping me fight brain cancer and my recurring brain tumors. It’s a tough illness and I’m fortunate to have the best doctors and the very best nurse I could ever ask for.

—Nominated by Ruth Brown

Gifted at Both Jobs

Christine Doherty, Lowell General Hospital

My wife, Christine, has been nursing for more than 20 years. She has worked at Children’s Hospital Boston, the VNA in Arlington and Worcester, and is now working at Lowell General in addition to her VNA job. What makes her the best nurse is that she is able to separate the tragedy she faces everyday: children with cancer and brain tumors, children the same age as our own. She is able to provide empathy for all the children in her care. We have been to a few funerals and fundraisers to support the families she has cared for. The most amazing thing is that she is able to do the daily work of nursing, yet be there for her own children. She could be frozen by fear with all that she sees everyday, she could be overprotective, or depressed by her work, but she is able to balance the needs of her patients with the needs of her family. As a result, she is a wonderful nurse and a wonderful mother.

—Nominated by Russell Doherty

She’s the Best

Dana Megna Cieslik, North Shore Medical Center

Dana is a good friend of my wife and insisted on being the delivery nurse when my children were born. She helped through the first, difficult delivery, of my son and later the delivery of my daughter. Through the years, she has helped with everything from ear infections, to cuts, scrapes, and sprains. No matter how busy she is with her own life, Dana makes my kids feel like they are the only ones she has to take care of and she does this for all of the kids she helps. She is the best nurse.

—Nominated by Ed Herrera

A Good Nurse

Brittany Collins, New England Rehabilitation Hospital

Brittany is one of the most compassionate, caring, dedicated nurses I have known. She will go the extra step for her patients to make sure they receive the care they need. She makes everyone she cares for feel as if they are the most important person in the world. I am proud to be a colleague of hers.

—Nominated by Kathy Savage

She Sets the Standard

Sharon Linteris, New England Baptist Hospital

Sharon Linteris was my nurse when I was in the hospital for hip replacement surgery. She is most professional in her dress and demeanor—a wonderful, caring nurse. She should be teaching younger nurses going into the profession as she sets the standards so high.

—Nominated by Janet Younnel Suri

Training the Next Generation

Mary Jane Scott, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Mary Jane Scott has been a nurse for 30 years and is truly passionate about the profession. She has helped hundreds of students pass the NCLEX exam, with a 95 percent rate of success. Currently, as an academic support counselor at MGH IHP, she is molding the next generation of nurses.

—Nominated by Drew Scott

A Second Mom

Annette Werger, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Since our first meeting, Annette has been a second “mom” to my son Caleb, who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a tumor of the muscles that are attached to the bones, in April 2010. We got to know Annette very well over 11-plus months of treatment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. One of the many reasons Annette deserves recognition is because of the value she places on a child’s quality of life. Annette encouraged and supported our attempts to provide our son with all the “normal” childhood experiences no child should be denied. She made every effort to accommodate those experiences within his treatment regimen. She treated his body and his spirit. Even after my son completed chemotherapy, I continued to email Annette with concerns. For a few months, I was paranoid, thinking every bump and bruise might be a sign of a recurring cancer. Patiently, Annette answered every question respectfully and she appropriately alleviated my fears. Today, we continue to meet with Annette every three months when my son has evaluations and tests to ensure he remains cancer-free. We both look forward to these appointments—Annette has become like family to us and we love to visit.

—Nominated by Amy and Caleb Cook

My Daughter, My Nurse

Lynn Savage, Lahey Clinic

As a mother, I could not be prouder; as a daughter, I could not be more grateful. With my daughter Lynn’s help, my sisters and I were able to keep my mother at home when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Lynn gave us that priceless gift of time with our mom. She answered all our questions or found the answers for us. She stayed calm and patient, even though she was physically and emotionally drained. Lynn unselfishly started each day checking in to make sure we all knew what to do and how to do it, worked her 12-hour shift, then came home and helped out again. Every day off during those 10 weeks before my mother’s death, Lynn helped and guided us so we could keep my mother as comfortable as possible. This was a tall order for a 24 year old, even more so for a granddaughter. Her compassion as a nurse was beyond belief and will never be forgotten.

—Nominated by Noreen Sirois Savage

There’s No Place Like Home

Lynn May , Partners Healthcare At Home

“I’m home,” nurse Lynn May shouted as she entered my house for the third time after I’d been discharged from the hospital. As a retired senior who has a complicated medical condition, I am trying to improve the quality of my life by staying in my own home. Lynn, our angel, is a highly skilled nurse who has the knowledge to help me find the physical and emotional strength to get better and enjoy my home. I say our angel, because she also provides suggestions and resources to my wife, the major caregiver. When we become frustrated with our situation, Lynn always presents a sense of calm and helps us sort out our options. She has worked with my doctors to develop a more team approach for my medical care. This nurse has made it possible for me to meet my goal of staying in my home following many hospitalizations.

—Nominated by Mario Santeusanio

Our Lifeline

Michelle Rosenthal, Visiting Nurse Association

Michelle was my wife’s visiting nurse for a large part of last year, until my wife, Geri, passed away. Michelle is very caring, and quickly became a friend rather than a visitor. She went over and above the call of duty, checking in by phone when she was not due to visit, following up on any issues, and ensuring that my wife’s cardiology team was abreast of the many issues that developed. On one occasion, she quickly responded to my call for help; I was determined that Geri should be in hospital. Michelle helped me get her there.

—Nominated by Richard Norris

Compassion Beyond Medicine

Gina Savini, Emerson Hospital

Gina Savini is an amazing individual whose exceptional compassion helped my family through the single hardest day of our lives. I met Gina as my wife was being cared for in the emergency room at Emerson Hospital. My wife had reached the hospital by ambulance a few minutes before me and Gina, aware of her serious condition, sought me out, bringing me into the emergency room. This thoughtful gesture allowed me to spend precious time with my wife, who had passed away.

My wife’s death was a complete surprise and extremely difficult for the family to absorb. Gina understood this and provided a room that gave us private time with my wife. She directed family members and our priest to the room as they arrived at the hospital. There, we could pray, whisper goodbyes, and otherwise begin to deal with this horrific event and the agonizing new reality. Gina checked on us regularly, made sure we were hydrating with liquids she provided, and introduced my daughter-in-law to a pediatric intervention team that advised her on how to help our grandchildren cope with the tragic loss of their grandmother. Throughout the day, Gina proactively worked with the medical examiner to give us more precious time with my wife. This eight hours was a miraculous gift and immeasurable in terms of its benefit to the family. Gina not only used her skills as a nurse and professional health practitioner, but she also demonstrated a strong sense of compassion, personal care, and insight into the needs of a distraught family dealing with a crushing experience.

—Nominated by Michael Lanagan

A Great Mix of Humor and Skill

Ian Penn, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

After I had major abdominal surgery, I was very apprehensive about the recovery process. During the day, there are many distractions, but at night, after your family has gone home, you worry. This is where the importance of the night nurse comes in. Ian was my nurse for the first three nights after my surgery, and he filled a very important role in my recovery. He helped me get through those rough nights with his compassion, sense of humor, and wonderful nursing skills. It was clear that Ian had excellent clinical skills as he worked to get one of my bodily functions going again. He spent time at my bedside with a flashlight in his mouth so he wouldn’t disturb me as he tried to solve the problem. During my six-day hospitalization, I learned that nurses can check your incision and give you medicine, but it’s what they do beyond that that makes the most difference. Great nurses like Ian get to know their patients and are interested in who they are as people outside of the hospital. They offer words of encouragement and a sympathetic ear. They are problem-solvers and use humor when appropriate to get you over a hurdle as they provide excellent care. With Ian I was in good hands and could relax and focus on the greatest part of recovering—going home.

—Nominated by Christine Winchester

A Calm Presence

Kathy Becker, Weston High School

As a high school nurse, Kathy Becker deals with absolutely everything, from minor headaches to broken bones and seizures. I have been lucky and honored to get to know her well due to my severe allergies. When I have an allergic reaction, she ably assesses the situation, making sure that I am comfortable with the decisions made. Furthermore, she respects my opinion, even though I am only 18 and have no medical training. She stays calm throughout the process, even as she dials 911 and watches me self-inject my EpiPen. She makes sure to keep my mind off of the reaction by telling me about her weekend or asking about my last soccer game. When another student comes in for Advil or a Band-Aid, she firmly but politely tells them to come back later. She keeps a smile on as she records my blood pressure, oxygen level, and time of injection. She knows when to throw in a joke, and when to be serious. When the paramedics arrive, she gives them a rundown of my medical history in a timely manner. The next day, she is sure to check in with me and let my teachers know what happened. Ms. Becker’s compassion and expertise have allowed me to stay calm and positive during situations that might otherwise be terrifying. Words cannot describe how truly thankful I am to have worked with such a terrific nurse and person during my high school years.

—Nominated by Kate Freedberg

Restoring Hope

Myra Hohenstein, Fresenius Medical Care Babcock Artificial Kidney Center

My diagnosis of kidney failure was frightening and depressing, and I knew it would change my life. What upset me most was the end of my ability to travel, to visit friends and family, and to spend time in beautiful places. Meeting Myra Hohenstein, who was assigned to teach me peritoneal dialysis, changed my understanding of what my future could be and restored my hope for good times and good travel ahead. With her sense of humor and fun, Myra immediately had my wife and me laughing as we learned how to do peritoneal dialysis at home. She is one funny woman. And often in her humor there is a deeper message about what is truly important in life and what is not. Myra made it her mission to see that we did not miss one planned or wished-for trip. When my wife received a threatening and depressing medical diagnosis, it was actually Myra who was most helpful to her in that difficult time. We know how lucky we are to have found Myra. We consider her our biggest booster, the Plymouth Rock who sustains our confidence and hope for the future.

—Nominated by Timothy Hart

A School’s Kind Guardian

Sue Novia, Grafton Middle School

Sue Novia was a dedicated school nurse at Grafton Middle School. Her first responsibility was to care for the students and she did so in an outstanding way. Students knew she had a listening ear and a big heart. Sue was also there for the school staff, offering an encouraging thought and compassionate attitude whether for a death in the family, an illness, or a difficult period after divorce. She helped many of us through our hardest days. She also took her nursing skills to other locales, to Nicaragua on a mission to help the poor receive medical care and proper medication, and to the Baja Peninsula in California, to assist the children of migrant workers with medications and nutrition programs. To her friends, Sue gives helpful advice on how to stay fit, eat healthily, and live longer. She is a true professional whose circle of service is very broad. Presently, she serves as a part-time nurse at UMass Memorial Medical Center, Worcester.

—Nominated by Gail McGrail

The Gift of Friendship

Maria DeAngelis, Mount Auburn Hospital

Earlier this year, I was admitted to Mount Auburn Hospital. My day nurse, Maria DeAngelis, became my friend and counselor. She was caring, comforting, and cooperative. I met other relief nurses, of course, but she alone stands out in sharp memory for me. I so appreciate her commitment to her chosen occupation and to those of us who require such care. Thank you.

—Nominated by Anna A. Yeshilian

Keeping the Family in Mind

Teresa Moreno, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton

Terry Moreno is a nurse manager at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton. She is an empathetic person who remembers the families when a patient is going into surgery, there’s a change in medical status, or when they’re waiting for a lengthy procedure to finish. A recent patient came out of surgery, had a significant medical change in the postanesthesia care unit, and needed to be transferred to Boston. Terry made sure the wife saw her husband prior to his transfer and that she had a ride to the transfer facility. A month or so later, the husband and wife came to thank everyone for their kindness. I have worked with Terry for seven years, and she always puts others first. I commend her for her leadership, empathy, and ability to look at the whole picture.

—Nominated by Janet Murphy

Home Care at Its Best

Karen Baggetta, Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital

Karen Baggetta is a home care nurse at the top of her game. My husband was homebound for almost 12 years before he died. He could not walk or talk; for many years, he could not eat. I cared for him at home. I transported him when necessary, but since he was 6 feet 5 inches tall, it was never easy. I got him up each day and lived a life I considered normal. Whenever he was discharged after a hospitalization, he was entitled to a visiting nurse follow-up. In the first few years, without exception, the nurses challenged my decision to care for my husband at home. I was always eager for them to leave, and they were, too.

After a stay at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital in Salem, NH, however, my husband was assigned to Karen Baggetta through the hospital’s home care agency. I was astonished by her professionalism and caring. She treated Bill as a man—not a damaged man—but as a man. She spoke to him, not me. She seemed to understand his responses, even though he couldn’t speak. She initiated ideas for care that would make my life and his easier. She called doctors and pharmacies and the hospital looking for supplies and treatment options that she thought would improve his circumstances or to lobby on his behalf. She is smart, very knowledgeable, and pursues issues that others have overlooked. She believes things can be better and never settles for less. She takes extra time to embrace the caregiver as well as the patient.

Homebound patients suffer like no others. They are often abandoned as lost causes. Karen always pursues the chance that there are endless small gestures, or even some big ones, that will improve her patient’s existence. My first husband was a physician who died in 1994. My second, Bill, was brain-injured. Both spent a large part of their lives around nurses at the most prestigious hospitals in Boston. So I have witnessed my share of nursing performances. Never have I met a more capable and caring nurse. She is fearless and generous.

—Nominated by Diana Sullivan

An Exceptional Caregiver

Kassie Reilly Lopez, Massachusetts General Hospital

This is not a dramatic story. I wasn’t in a life and death situation. No miracles were involved. I was ill, yes, but the situation was ordinary. With one exception: My nurse, Kassie Reilly Lopez, was exceptional. I was admitted to Mass General Hospital last December for surgery and was sent to White 7 for post-operative care. Ms. Reilly Lopez worked 10-hour shifts each day of my stay. Encountering someone who is technically competent at his/her job is something that most of us genuinely appreciate. But when outstanding skills are coupled with a real passion for the work, we are observing someone who has a true calling. Kassie has that calling for the profession of nursing. There was comfort when I ached, conversation when I was bored, answers when I was curious, and empathy when I was feeling sorry for myself. It was nursing at its best, delivered by a professional who treated me with dignity and respect while performing all the basic and often quite unglamorous duties of healthcare that nurses provide. Does it get any better than that? I doubt that Ms. Reilly Lopez realizes what a gift she is to her patients. She clearly loves the work with her whole being. The energy that comes along with her commitment to her work is a life force in and of itself.

—Nominated by Kathleen M. Collman

He Dispenses Hugs, Humor

Gordon “Ed” Newbert, Massachusetts General Hospital

Ed has been my nurse since June 2011 when I started chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. I cannot say enough good things about how he has treated me. Every week, he will ask all the questions about my physical health but will also want to know about my mental health: Was I able to go out? Have I seen friends? What activities have I done? He will really look at me to see how I look and can read my expressions. One week he knew I was upset and immediately called someone for me to talk with. The week my mother died, he was the first person to give me a big hug and express his condolences. When the metastasized cancer in my liver was no longer visible on the scans, he cheered with me and encouraged me to go out to lunch to celebrate.

When I started treatment I could not understand why things took so long. He carefully explained the timeframes required for the medications and the clinical trial infusion. No one else had taken the time to give me the details. When he was on vacation, I missed his keen observation skills, his efficient work, our conversations throughout the day, his sense of humor, and the way he treats me: I am not just one of many; I am special, and he cares about me.

—Nominated by Susan Slavet

She Knew Just What to Do

Patty Forino, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Patty Forino was my oncology nurse for four months when I was being treated for lung cancer. After they surgically removed 30 percent of my lung capacity, I underwent 28 treatments of radiation and 4 rounds of chemotherapy. The chemo was often administered on six consecutive days. Patty was the nurse in charge of all chemo.

The treatment was and is awful. I was so depressed. I had lost my independence and will to move forward. At my lowest moment, it was Patty who was able to get through to me. The doctors had tried, my wife had tried, but I was sinking lower and lower daily. Under Patty’s care, for the first time, I sobbed like a baby. It was the only time I completely broke down, and she sparked my return to the living. She made me take some control of my recovery by instructing me to exercise and encouraging me to challenge myself emotionally and physically, to do just a few minutes of walking and to go longer and farther each time.

Today, almost a year removed from treatment, I’m back playing competitive club tennis and working full time. Patty Forino gave me my life back and instilled in me a will and desire to get better.

—Nominated by Michael Bender

A Little Latin Goes a Long Way

Colleen Gerrity, Children’s Hospital Boston

As difficult as it is to put into words our time in 6W at Children’s Hospital, I felt compelled to share our wonderful experiences with a most special and devoted nurse. In addition to the expected difficulties of my son’s bone marrow transplant, Nick was plagued with GI problems, high fevers, and severe neuropathic foot pain. Colleen and Nick shared a love of sports and Latin. She would burst into the room at 7 a.m., greeting Nick with an exuberant, “Salve.” They would discuss and critique the last night’s game and look forward to the next football game. Overnight, she would leave a Latin joke on his white board. His favorite was, “Semper ubi sub ubi” (“Always wear underwear”). Her devoted nursing care and constant advocacy is what I remember most. She would explain clearly the complex and confusing medical issues and outline the plan for the day. With her experience and knowledge, it seemed she always had a trick to make things better. One day, Nick had to drink quarts as a bowel prep for CT scan. Those days it was such a struggle to get him to eat or drink anything. She brought in a stack of medicine cups and made a pyramid. He then drank a “shot” every 15 minutes and successfully took in his bowel prep. I don’t know how Nick or I would have fared without the excellent nursing care and devoted advocacy of his phenomenal nurse.

—Nominated by Amanda Metzger

They Put a Song in Her Heart

When I was diagnosed with MDS (myelodysplasia syndrome) in the summer of 2011, I had no idea what this meant, but apparently I had a pre-leukemia. My hematologist told me that I would have to undergo a bone marrow transplant. This whole experience has been a terrible ordeal to me and my family. My mom stopped working for five to six months to take care of me and be there for me in the hospital. We never realized how sick this transplant would make me and it was tough to live through it. I may not remember a lot from my time in 6 West, but I remember my nurse, Colleen. Colleen is a kind, compassionate, caring nurse with a great sense of humor. She and I both know a little Latin, so one day she left this saying on my board: “semper ubi sub ubi” (always wear underwear). Even though it’s not grammatically correct, it cracked me up, and those days it was hard to bring a smile to my face. Colleen made me hopeful for my good recovery. My team sometimes wouldn’t round to my room until three or four in the afternoon, but Colleen would always stop by and check up on me.

—Nominated by Nick Metzger

They Put a Song in Her Heart

Noreen Pasquarello and all first floor nurses, Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home

I nominate Noreen Pasquarello and the other first floor nurses, Kelly Miles, Jenn Griffen, and Megan Gomez, at the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home (CJNH) for the care, love, and attention they give my 96-year-old mother Louise Sabella. Each nurse has her own special way of showing compassion and interest in my mother. Noreen, for example, sends me videos from her phone of my mom at various times during the day. It’s very comforting to see her at breakfast or during some special activity, especially those activities where she can be singing her favorite Italian songs. The nurses keep me informed of any medical problem that arises and they act quickly to treat small problems before they become big ones. They encourage my mother to participate in the planned activities and outings because they know she enjoys them and always returns singing and laughing. Noreen, Jenn, Megan, and Kelly make it easy for our family to have our mother in the CJNH. She’s been there three years and still is very happy. My mother always tells me, “Don’t worry about me, they take good care of me here.” Because of these nurses, I don’t worry.

—Nominated by Louise Ferullo

A Shoulder to Lean On

Karen Friedman, MGH Bunker Hill Health Center

In my experience, when dealing with busy health professionals, I always feel rushed and as though I cannot gain their full attention. However, Nurse Karen not only inquires about my physical and mental health, but she also lets me know she cares about my general well-being and has built a strong relationship with me. She attends to my daily needs and complex health issues, and she helps with bigger tasks. For instance, I recently had major surgery and temporarily could not care for my 10-year-old daughter. When nurse Karen discovered this, she took the initiative and found a respite home for my daughter while I was in the hospital and recovering. Knowing that I could rely on her and that someone showed genuine concern for what was best for my family, had a huge impact on my life. This kind of dedication is important to me as I often have to deal with daily struggles on my own because of I do not have the support base of friends and family that others take for granted. Nurse Karen’s kind of empathetic health care makes a world of a difference to a client like me.

—Nominated by Christine Eskra

A Source of Courage

Jo Pride, Golden Living Center–Elmhurst

Jo Pride took care of my mother, Anastasia Mahan, aged 93. Her special attitude created a loving atmosphere felt by visitors to the facility. She cared for the elderly with respect, treating all her patients with kindness and love. She understood their weaknesses and recognized them as human beings. Her communication skills made it easier for me to understand the complicated terms of medications and medical conditions. She smoothly navigated the space between frail parent and adult child. My mother visited Elmhurst twice for rehabilitation after brief hospital stays in 2011-2012. I saw my mother almost daily during the last few weeks of her life. I witnessed Jo’s consistent professionalism. Her job requires a rare blend of talents. To be patient while caring for the infirm and aged demands much of a person. To me, Jo is an angel who helped guide my mother on her final journey. When Jo called me at an early hour, I understood immediately I would be making one last trip to Elmhurst that morning. I would hear this message once, but Jo repeatedly has to deliver tragic news with dignity. She somehow finds the courage to meet these heavy responsibilities every day. Her example gives me strength and helps me find courage to meet my responsibilities.

—Nominated by Stephanie Mahan Stigliano

She’s a Special Kind of Neighbor

Kathleen Morris, Good Samaritan Medical Center

Kathleen Morris is one of the most professional caring and compassionate nurses I have ever met. As a senior who has experienced a variety of medical procedures, I’ve had close contact with many capable nurses and healthcare providers. A retired surgical nurse, Kathleen is frequently recalled for OR duty, provides untiring home care for her ailing spouse, and offers almost daily attention to at least 10 elderly families in this retirement community. Unselfishly, she performs without clock limits as a mobile ER. She even includes in her shopping list, groceries for medically immobile residents. She possesses a rare, dedicated, unwavering, salubrious attention to all human beings. How lucky we are for her exceptional clinical services.

—Nominated by Arthur L. Lomker

Her Quick Action Saved a Life

Fausat Ilupeju, VA Home Based Primary Care

I am a WWII veteran, the wife and caregiver to Mathew J. Keany, also a WWII veteran. I write these heartfelt words for Fausat Ilupeju. Her scheduled visit to my husband Mathew on Jan. 19 no doubt saved his life. She first measured Mathew’s vital signs and finding his blood-pressure at 30, immediately—but calmly—summoned an ambulance, which arrived within minutes. Mathew and I were rushed, siren screaming, to the VA hospital in West Roxbury in less than 10 minutes. He was taken from the emergency room to surgery, where he had pacemaker inserted. Today, Mathew survives, as well as he can, thanks to excellent VA medical care and Fausat Ilupeju. She’s our angel.

—Nominated by Janet C. Re

Our Town’s Loving Nurse

Virginia Desmond, Town of Tewksbury, Town Nurse

My husband Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer last August and started chemotherapy. Virginia came to our home in-between our doctor visits and treatments. She listened to Michael’s stomach, gave him hints on eating smaller meals or drinking Ensure to keep the food down, and recommended antacids for hiccups and other problems. When it started to become apparent that he wasn’t getting well, she very nicely inquired if there was anything we had to do to prepare ourselves and our family if the chemo did not work. We had made preparations, but I know a lot of people do not like to talk about it. Ginny made it easy to face reality. When my husband passed in January, she was one of the first to ask if there was anything she could do. She made this difficult time a lot easier. In many other ways, Virginia goes beyond the requirements of town nurse. She has gone to doctors in Boston with families who needed a second pair of ears and taken family members to the hospital to visit a loved one—even when she herself was not feeling well. She is a great asset to the people of this town, running health fairs and getting people involved who would usually not leave their home.

—Nominated by Angela Callahan

A Mentor Through and Through

Kathy Savage, North Shore PACE/Elder Service Plan

Kathy is the intake nurse practitioner for the North Shore PACE program and is responsible for the initial assessment of potential new participants. PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), also known as Elder Service Plan of the North Shore, serves medically indigent elders in Essex County who are eligible for nursing homes but choose to stay at home with the support of PACE. Her duties include working with student nurses doing their community health rotation. As a teacher and mentor, she is patient and thorough in her explanations. She is also confident and respectful of her patients and colleagues. Kathy’s compassion, clinical discernment, and expertise were evident recently when she was able to understand and put at ease an aphasic patient who was having great difficulty communicating during an assessment. Her dedication to the field of nursing is contagious, inspiring others to strive to reach their highest potential. Kathy is a source of knowledge and advocates for students, participants, and the interdisciplinary teams of PACE. It is an honor and privilege to work with this nurse practitioner.

—Nominated by Deborah DeAngelis, Kristin Marrs, Jacqueline Daigle

Her Optimism Inspires Hope

Nancy Schaeffer, Massachusetts General Hospital

In August 2006, diagnosed with incurable breast cancer, I became a patient of an extraordinary nurse at MGH, remaining in treatment with her for these past five-and-a-half years. Nancy Schaeffer has tended me with unmatched care, honesty, and optimism. With dim hopes for survival the day I met her, I said to Nancy about a soon-to-be-born first grandchild, “I’d give anything just to see him get to kindergarten.” Nancy looked down at her clipboard, then looked up smiling, and said wryly, “We got you down for his college graduation.” My husband recalls that his heart and mine lifted at that very moment, knowing we could endure what lay ahead with Nancy as my caretaker on this cancer journey. That grandson is now five and a half, and there is not a day that I do not think about the phenomenal gift it has been to have Nancy bring us through my continuing treatment with grace, humor, unparalleled attention, and compassion. Over the years, she has cheered on my successes and positive steps forward—medical, familial, and professional—and helped me when I have had a setback, been scared, in pain, unsure, and worried. During numerous hospitalizations, Nancy has been my point person, often sitting near my bed while other specialists go about my care. Many professionals and patients at MGH talk admiringly, respectfully, and lovingly. She shines as an extraordinary nurse working daily with devotion and love to help her patients try to survive.

—Nominated by Lorraine Garnett Ward

Leavening Cancer with Love

Noreen Leahy, Massachusetts General Hospital

Noreen Leahy is the nurse practitioner for Dr. Tracy Batchelor, head of neuro-oncology at MGH. Noreen treats everyone with care and concern and answers the difficult questions patients and their families need to ask. I was health care proxy for my friend of 40 years, Sue Montgomery, who had a tumor in her spinal cord. She saw Noreen monthly at MGH until her death last November. After Sue was diagnosed as terminal the previous August, Noreen came to Sue’s home in Charlestown weekly to check on her. Paralyzed from the chest down and wheelchair bound, Sue required an enormous level of care. Noreen was available day or night to answer our questions or ease our fears. She worked with hospice and the insurance companies to get what Sue needed to remain at home. She comforted Sue until her last days, holding her hand and explaining what was to come. We grew to love Noreen as a member of our family. She gave us strength, love, compassion, knowledge, understanding and was the best advocate anyone could hope for when dealing with other medical institutions and staff. She gave me the confidence needed to help care for Sue at home. I, all of Sue’s friends and family, and even the hospice workers, were touched by the relationship she shared with us.

—Nominated by Mary Ann Tecce

A Ray of Sunshine

Jeanne MacDonald, Shriners Hospital for Children

I first met Jeanne MacDonald in June 2011 as a new manager of the Acute Care Unit of Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, and soon learned she had been a nurse at the hospital for over 24 years. I have nicknamed her “Sunshine.” She is known for kneeling down in the middle of the hallway to greet and announce the arrival of a patient. I have witnessed the giant hugs that children run up to give her. She dynamically sets the tone through role modeling and sharing. She will come up to colleagues with a smile and lighten the mood and milieu. Her self-awareness denotes a character of integrity, patience, honesty, trust, humility, hope, and courage.

—Nominated by Judith Cullinane

Giving a Father Hope

Jay Hartford, Children’s Hospital Boston

My daughter, Caroline, had been in a terrible car accident last year, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, when we met Jay Hartford in the ICU at Children’s Hospital. In my first conversation with him, he asked me if I had any questions. I told him he probably couldn’t answer my one question. He said, “Try me.” I asked if he thought my little girl was going to make it. He said, with tears in his eyes, “I do.” I remember that moment so clearly. Caroline did make it and loved Jay. She continues to see him whenever we end up at Children’s while he is working. He makes an extra effort to see her, always making her smile. He is great with kids and their parents. Caroline told him, “Your wife is lucky,” and when Jay asked why, she said, “to be married to you.”

—Nominated by Laurie Nagle

Caring for Vulnerable Populations on the Road

Catherine O’Connor, Northeastern University/Health Innovations

Catherine O’Connor made a lifesaving discovery this year during a public clinic. She took time to examine a boil under the arm of a patient, though that’s not routine for HIV prevention services. Her care led to the discovery of lymphoma. She followed up with the patient to ensure that she was treated and supported.

—Nominated by Heather Kennedy

Catherine O’Connor has inspired me in the classroom as my professor and on the streets as my role model. She has committed all of herself to caring for stigmatized populations, including the homeless, transgendered, immigrant, and drug addicted. Specifically, Catherine founded the Health in Motion Van, which not only services the underserved, but also provides an opportunity for students to gain an appreciation for this population. Although there have been many instances on the van in which Catherine has awed me with her power to uplift patients who have hit rock bottom, there is one story that I will forever remember. I was working with a patient who had truly reached a low point in his life. He was a recently disabled, unemployed, divorced, depressed, and homeless alcoholic. Although I felt we had established a connection, I was unable to motivate him to make the changes necessary to improve his situation. Catherine, who had originally approached this patient on the street because she could see he needed her, stepped in. After speaking with her, my patient was filled with hope and felt empowered to pull his life back together. He revisited us later that day to share that he felt he had been touched by an angel and was preparing for enrollment in a detox program, the first step in a courageous recovery. Catherine radiates an unwavering passion for serving others—a deep passion in its purest form.

—Nominated by Kayleigh McDonald

The Gift of Good Teaching

Janice Meisenhelder, MGH Institute of Health Professions

To nursing students, the best nurse is the educator. The most influential nurse is J.B. Meisenhelder. Aside from teaching us everything we need to know about patient care, she is a support system. She believes in her students.

—Nominated by Laura Ferrara

Blazing a New Trail

Nancy Justin, Anna Jaques Hospital

Nancy Justin for the amazing work she has done in trailblazing the concept of consumer-driven healthcare by creating a website where all patients can find a nurse-recommended doctor. She exemplifies patient advocacy by providing a free online service for patients.

—Nominated by Deborah Ciampa

A Double Dose of Care

Susan Morgan and Deirdre “Dede” Buckley, Massachusetts General Hospital

I had a brain aneurysm resting on the optic nerve of my left eye and successfully underwent brain surgery in April 2011. Unfortunately, five weeks later I contracted a dangerous staph infection at the incision site. Two nurses left lasting impressions on me during my illness, Susan Morgan and Dede Buckley. Susan made sure from the onset that I understood the seriousness of the infection and what treatment I would be undergoing. It was the little things that she did for me for which I’d like her recognized. I was hooked up to a number of monitors that often sounded alarms; Sue quickly and cheerfully came to check on my status. During a bout of nausea, Sue sat next to me gently stroking my back. Perhaps the simplest thing she did was make me feel human again. Often Sue would spend a few extra minutes with me sharing her family’s experiences and learning more about mine. Dede also took a particular interest in my recovery, removing stitches and helping to treat the infection. She became a true friend of the family, often answering my emails during late evening hours on her personal time. Later, as I prepared for another brain surgery to implant a prosthetic skull piece and to make my head "whole" again, she followed up with the plastic surgeons and infectious disease staff to make sure everything was in order for the operation. One of my brightest memories is how Dede expressed concern when warranted, encouraged me to keep up my spirits, and guided me through the process.

—Nominated by Arleen Jaracz

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