National Nurses Week runs through May 12 -- so first of all, if you have a nurse in your life who deserves some recognition, there’s still time!
Second, to mark the occasion, we had to ask our readers: Have you ever had a nurse who helped you especially? What made that person so special and memorable?
The responses came pouring in -- and we think you’ll find them incredibly heartfelt and touching.
Take Meagan Heineman’s story, for example. That’s her baby that you see above in the main photo. This Florida woman, from Ponte Vedra Beach, took the time to write out paragraph after paragraph about how much she loved and appreciated her nurses from The Family Birth Place at St. Vincent Southside, where she delivered both of her children.
“Every staff member was great. We got to know the staff and nurses very well. I wish I could remember all the names of everyone that we encountered," Heineman said. "Each person played a part in getting us through what was one of the most difficult things we have gone through.”
When her second pregnancy involved some complications (in the form of a pre-eclampsia diagnosis), Heineman found herself spending a lot of time at the hospital. Here are just a few snippets from the short novel she submitted -- and we say that with love, of course!
“Cecille was my rock and always put me at ease,” Heineman said. “She figured out what kept my anxiety at a minimum and had a routine for my observation appointments that kept me calm. Whenever she walked into the room, I felt a sense of comfort. She was good at distracting me with stories about her own family, or talking about a favorite place to eat. It was nice to have ‘normal conversation’ in a time where nothing was normal. She would always come check on me. She cared for me like I was her family.
“Then there was Carrie. She was like sunshine walking into your room. She was always happy, positive and upbeat. If I was going to be admitted, I always asked, ‘If Carrie is here, can she be my nurse?’ She had patience like no other. My daughter was always hard to keep on the monitors, and Carrie would sit till she got (it). Carrie gave my daughter her nickname: Snuggle Bug. She would move monitor around and tell Snuggle Bug to be good and quit hiding from her. Carrie’s happiness was contagious and oftentimes, made me forget that I was stuck in the bed. Carrie always came to check in on us, even if she wasn’t my nurse.”
"Hannah is my hero! ... You could tell Hannah enjoyed her job and loved caring for her patients. Hannah was with me when our daughter was born. I was on day two of labor and feeling like I was never going to have my baby. (But) with Hannah on one side of me and my husband on the other, Dr. Q delivered our perfect and healthy baby girl, Randi. After about (an) hour after Randi was born, my husband headed to the waiting room to get our son Eli to meet his baby sister. I was enjoying a quiet moment with Randi and something happened. Randi’s eyes rolled into the back of her head and she turned blue in my arms. I frantically pressed the call button. When the nurse at the desk answered, all I could say was, ‘My baby is not breathing.’ My husband and son walked in and saw me holding a blue baby -- not how I imagined my son meeting his sister. Hannah came rushing in the room and took Randi out of my arms. It is all a blur, but I remember soon after Hannah took Randi from me, she got her color back and started crying.
“I don’t know what Hannah did, but she saved my little girl. The pediatrician came in and Randi was put on a monitor and oxygen. Hannah came to check on me then. My husband was reassuring our son and Hannah was reassuring me. Thankfully, Randi seemed fine and we did not have to go to the NICU. When Randi is older and I tell her about all the people that helped us get her here safely, Hannah will be known as the nurse (who) saved her life.”
See what we mean? Many people were just like Heineman -- connected to and forever in debt to their nurses.
We’ve compiled some more responses below, in hopes that perhaps the mentioned nurse will get some recognition (so TAG that person if you recognize a name or hospital!), and perhaps to serve as some inspiration: for future nurses, other people in the medical field, fellow nurses, or maybe just to put a smile on your face. Nurses are incredible.
Editor’s note: Some responses, including Heineman’s, have been edited for clarity, length and grammar. Contributors could choose how many specifics they’d like to share, so some nurses have first and last names provided, along with dates of service and cities, while others don’t.
This nurse who pushed everything to the side when she was with a patient.
Claudia Orozco, from Texas Home Health, in Brenham, Texas.
“She was very professional, yet kind and empathetic. She listened to me. She actually listened. When she was with me, it was as if I mattered. You can’t learn that from a book.”
-- Sara Bardsley, from Brenham
This nurse who helped one family breathe a little easier.
Melissa Passmore, from Children’s Hospital PICU.
“Melissa took the best care of our son, who, at the time, was only 8 weeks old. Her care, compassion and tenderness were unmatched. Knowing that she was with him, watching over and caring for him made it a little easier to breathe. He was extremely ill, on a special ventilator, more tubes and pumps hooked up to him than you could ever imagine, and she kept him going, never missing a beat. She would stop by the hospital’s ‘closet’ and pick him out matching blankets, socks and hats. I couldn’t hold him safely because of all of the medical devices, but she made sure to hold him, change his bedding, bathe him and care for him like a saint. I trusted her with my child, and seeing her walk into his room every evening was like having a weight lifted off my shoulders, knowing he would be in her care all night. She was always so kind to my husband and I, making us smile when our whole world was turned upside down. Our son, Logan, is now 11 and thriving -- and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her care and compassion for not only our son, but for us, as well. She holds a very special place in our family’s hearts.”
-- Rachael Cockfield, from Livonia, Michigan
This nurse who is never more than a text message away.
Julie Palmer, from Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital’s diaĺysis unit
“She would always go above and beyond in doing her job. She taught me how to perform peritoneal dialysis on my son when he started dialysis. My son was small and I was scared. I didn’t know how I was going to handle that whole situation, but she made it seem so easy and made me feel that I was doing the best job at it. Seeing how she would try to explain everything to me made me feel I was going to be able to do it. Her strong and confident (nature) made me become a stronger person. She always assured me I could do it. And I could always count on her if I ever needed help. (To) this day, if I have a question, I can still send her a text and she is always willing to help -- even though we don’t see her anymore. She still worries about her ‘babies.’ She has a passion for what she does and you can tell as soon as you meet her. In my eyes, she is the best at what she does. Love you, Julie Palmer!”
-- Mirna Mejia, from Katy, Texas
This nurse who defined what it meant to be a backbone.
Kelli Beard, from Wolfson NICU.
“Kelli took my baby in as her own. She was with me through the thick and thin of my daughter’s life, before my daughter gained her wings. Kelli fought to be my daughter’s primary night nurse. She was there the night that my daughter went into respiratory failure. Kelli was there the night that my daughter fought to stay alive. Kelli was there the day my daughter (passed), working as her primary during the day. When your child is in the NICU, as a parent, it’s nice to have someone who loves your child, so you can go home at night and get some rest. Kelli was my backbone during my daughter’s 7 months. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it without her. She was our guardian angel -- and now, my daughter is hers.”
-- Andrea LaMondie, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
This nurse who provided comfort under unimaginable circumstances.
Anne Berglund, from Baptist Nassau Labor and Delivery, September 21-22, 2008.
"Anne Berglund was my nurse at Baptist Nassau Hospital, (and) when I went in, our son that I was carrying passed away in utero. She was there the moment I found out he no longer had a heartbeat at 25 weeks. Anne never left my side, coming in before her shift started and staying late to be there for me and my family through our nightmare. (When I delivered) my beautiful baby boy with her help, I opted not to see or hold him, as I knew I’d never be able to let him go.
"She understood, and instead, took many pictures of him for me, in case I ever wanted to know what he looked like later down the road. I am so thankful she did, as I (now) look at them often. As I prepared to be discharged from the hospital without my child, I told (Anne), ‘I can’t just leave him here all alone.’ Though I knew he was already gone, I couldn’t fathom leaving my baby there. She promised he wouldn’t be alone, and that she would stay until the funeral home came to get him -- even though her shift had ended hours before.
“I left the hospital completely grief-stricken, as any mother would be, unsure how to go on without my baby, only to receive a card from her a few short days later, telling us how Logan (my son) crosses her mind often and how she is a better person for having met us, even under the devastating circumstances. The truth is, we are better people for having met her. Not only is she an amazing nurse ... she is an outstanding mother and role model. I have spent over a decade trying to find a way to even start to repay her or show the level of gratitude she deserves for helping me through (the) biggest and darkest storm of my life.”
-- Megan Clarkson, from Fernandina Beach
This nurse who served as the difference-maker.
Sheveeta, from Baptist Beaches.
“I was in labor and my epidural didn’t work. The anesthesiologist was in a surgery and it was going to be a while. Sheveeta sat me up (against the anesthesiologist’s wishes) and helped apply counter pressure to my back. She was there to help me through every moment of my painful and pukey labor at the end of a terrible pregnancy. I’m sure it was another day to her, but to me, it was everything. Thank you!”
-- Taylor, from Atlantic Beach, Florida
This nurse who made a 40-day NICU stay bearable.
Mila, from Clear Lake Regional Hospital in April 2000
“My son was born at 30 weeks, and spent 40 days in the NICU. Mila would always take the time every day to explain what they were doing to him and how he was improving. She would even very patiently take our phone calls when we weren’t able to be with him. She made our 40-day visit bearable. There aren’t enough words to tell her how much I appreciated her care for our son, and her kindness to us at such a difficult and scary time. Thank you, Mila. You were a gift from God!”
-- Michele, from Pasadena, Texas
This team that provided truly special care.
The ALS nursing team, Methodist Hospital Jones 10.
“The entire team (not limited to nurses) (is) so fantastic with (its) patients. My dad had moved from Connecticut with advanced ALS. Each time the Jones 10 team interacted with him, they were kind and caring. It made him, and me, feel comfortable and grateful in a difficult situation. On our return visit, they remembered my dad and the care was just as special. Thank you, for making my dad feel humane during his very difficult disease process.”
-- Patti T. Tomball
This nurse who paid attention to the details.
Sally from Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.
“The nurses in ICU were so caring when our mom was nearing the end. My sisters and I were there all the time. Sally overheard one day that it was my birthday, and she ordered a small cake for me. They take care of both the patient and the family.”
-- Lisa, from Royal Oak
This nurse who proved she really understood what new moms need.
Jan Melsom, from Baptist South Labor and Delivery.
“I was about to be a first-time mom, and Jan talked me (and my husband) through most of my active labor. She had a presence that made me trust her immediately. She was there to help deliver my sweet girl and to make sure she was safe. When our first night in the hospital came, my daughter cried incessantly. I was exhausted and I felt defeated. Jan checked on me before her shift ended, and she came back when her next shift started, even though she was no longer assigned to me. She sat and cried with me when I told her I didn’t know what I was doing -- and she told me she knew I was going to be a great mom. These were my first moments of becoming a parent, and I felt like I needed a parent myself. She was there to encourage me and settle my worried spirit. She never felt like a stranger, and I didn’t feel like I was one of her 20 patients. She was my own little angel when I was totally lost, confused and exhausted. There are no words to describe how blessed and thankful I feel that she was part of my daughter’s birth.”
-- Colleen Nehrbass, from Jacksonville, Florida
This nurse whose smile and attitude never seemed to falter.
Rachel, from Kendall Regional Hospital.
“Rachel was my nurse after I had partial kidney removed from cancer. Being that I’m only 33 years old and was facing such a challenging time in my life, Rachel made sure to always put a smile on my face not only at the beginning of her shift, but also at the end of her day when she was drained from her day of work. Never did Rachel’s smile, attitude or service change -- unlike other nurses. Rachel made sure my pain was always managed and that I was well taken care of.”
-- No name provided, resident of Miami, Florida
This nurse who likely makes all of her patients feel this lucky.
Sarah Barbeau, from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
“Sarah is (a labor and delivery nurse) I have known for many years. When I went into labor with my son, I never imagined she would be my nurse. She made all my nerves and anxiety about delivery disappear. Surprisingly, 15 months later, we were back at the hospital to deliver our second son. This was the week COVID-19 started to impact our state. I was a nervous wreck. My doctor decided to induce me due to my preeclampsia. I never imagined I would be so lucky to have my friend deliver both of my children. But I was THAT lucky. Sarah helped me through all my anxiety the week we spent in the hospital. She even came back to visit me to make sure I was OK. Sarah is so passionate about her job. She is one of a kind. She deserves all the recognition for how she helps women bring their children into the world. She will always hold a special place in our family.”
-- Katie Gobble, from Roanoke, Virginia
This mom and nurse who forever made an impact.
Sharon Meade, from Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.
"Perhaps this is a different perspective than others, but I feel like it’s just as important. My mom has been a nurse most of my 35-year-old life (she’s retired now, and totally deserved it). I didn’t have to see her 'in action’ to know how she must have made a difference in people’s lives. She was open about what she did and how she handled situations. I think it must have been therapeutic some days to discuss work. I know she has sat with patients and cried, held their hands (and) carried the weight of their emotional distress on her shoulder. She worked with elderly hospital patients for a long time, and she’s always said they were her favorite. She certainly had to deal with death, and then with family members who were coping with that death. And my mom, because I know her so well (aside from the stories she told), was sensitive and loving not only with her patients, but also with their family members. On the other end of that, she’d come home and cry about a situation she’d dealt with, or vent about how hard it was to do her job because there wasn’t enough support, or they had too many patients given to them that it was (challenging) to give them the extra attention they deserved. Or she’d glow about how she had connected with a patient. I should mention, for years, she did 16-hour days.
“Then, she’d come home and take care of three children, all less than one year apart in age, and she did it the same way she nursed: lovingly and passionately. In her 60s now, she was grateful to retire -- it had become hard to work long days on her feet. Still, she has been vocal about how she misses the work and the patients. But any time I have something going on, or my daughter has a rash, I call her immediately. ‘What is this? What should I do?’ I’ve actually always done that. It’s been nice having an amazing nurse as an amazing mother. They deserve more gratitude than any of us could ever give.”
-- Dawn Jorgenson, from Kyle, Texas
Are you feeling all the feels, wishing you had submitted your own example? It’s not too late! Do it here. We just might use your answers in a future online story.