MaryAnne Bennett was recognized for the excellent care she provides to her tiny patients in the NICU.
When MaryAnne Bennett, BSN, RN, last month was honored by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses with the Robyn Main Excellence in Clinical Practice Award, one of her most special “congratulations” came from 5-year-old Weston, a former patient who presented her with a bouquet of flowers in the NICU.
Bennett was the lead nurse caring for Weston during his 98-day stay in the NICU in 2001. Weston, the son of Gayle and Michael Schumacher, was born at 25 weeks gestation. His parents never forgot the skill and compassion Bennett demonstrated in caring for him, and because of that, the Schumachers have maintained a close friendship with Bennett and have become benefactors of the NICU. (See page 6 for an excerpt of the Schumachers’ touching letter describing their experience with Bennett.)
Bennett’s ongoing relationships with the Schumachers and many other former NICU patients and families who still visit her and send her cards—some even after 18 years—is a testament to the impact of her compassion and expert skill.“MaryAnne is a role model to all of us in the NICU,” Marianne Cummings, nurse manager of the NICU, said. “Her intuitive understanding of the needs of her patients, families and fellow nurses is what really sets MaryAnne apart. A member of our staff said it best: to work with MaryAnne is to know you will be well taken care of.”
Bennett, who has worked in the NICU for 20 years, knows immediately what needs to be done for a critically ill patient and how to do it. This allows her to excel as a preceptor to newer NICU nurses and pass on her expertise to them.
“MaryAnne’s positive influence and high standard is a constant source of pride and satisfaction for our staff,” Cummings said. “She is a most deserving recipient of this prestigious award, and we are proud to have her on our team.”
Bennett, who also was a finalist for BWH’s 2006 Mary S. Fay Essence of Nursing Award, received her BSN from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her diploma from St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing. Before joining BWH in 1986, she practiced as a medical/surgical nurse at Mount Auburn Hospital and as an ICU nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
MaryAnne Bennett, center, was joined by Gayle and Michael Schumacher during a celebration of her award in the NICU.
Below is an excerpt from Gayle and Michael Schumacher’s letter.
As we reflect back on our NICU experience, we realize that MaryAnne was the constant. She was there with tears in her eyes as she handed Weston to me the first time I held him. She was there the morning after we almost lost him, and didn’t speak but simply met us with a hug because words were not enough. She never left for the night without making sure he was in good hands and making sure we knew that. On the days of his many eye exams, she met my eyes first thing and told me the results, knowing I had spent the previous night sleepless with worry. She got it, she got us and, most importantly, she got Weston. During a visit to our home almost a year after his discharge, he was calmed by her immediately, as if he knew who she was. She was Weston’s substitute mother when I could not be.
As a patient in a hospital of the caliber of BWH, you expect to receive unmatched medical treatment. What you can’t expect, but can only hope, is to receive that treatment accompanied by the sort of compassion, care and personal investment that we experienced with MaryAnne every day she was there. MaryAnne typifies the best of what nursing can be. We count ourselves and our son blessed to have had her as part of our team in 2001, and to have her as a friend today.
-Gayle and Michael Schumacher