Bringing Compassionate Care to the Bedside
2004 Scholars in Nursing
Seven nurses were among the recipients of the 2004 Dennis J. Thomson Compassionate Care Scholar Awards, receiving seed grants to fund their proposed projects to help bring more compassion to the bedsides of patients at BWH. These awards were created to celebrate the legacy of the late Dennis Thomson, former vice president of BWH Public Affairs.
One such project enhancing compassionate care in the BWH NICU is the brainchild of Kerri Halligan, RN; Carla Horton, RN; and Steven Ringer, MD. Their idea is to have a “victory board” of photos featuring current and past NICU patients during various holidays and other photos that depict children and families who have lived the NICU experience.
Twelve years ago, the trio started what has since become an annual tradition of having Santa Claus come to the NICU. “Steve dresses up as Santa and travels from bedside to bedside, while Kerri and Carla, along with Kerri Duggan, RN—the elves—take pictures and place them in beautiful NICU cards for the parents and grandparents,” said Marianne Metcalfe-Cummings, RN, nurse manager, NICU.
“It is a wonderful and hugely meaningful event for parents—something that creates a bit of normalcy for them. This wonderful tradition truly addresses the need to minister not only to the physical needs of our patients but also to their spirit as well.”
“The parents just love it,” added Horton, explaining that the group also takes photos of the babies for Independence Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, among others. “We also provide little hats, which I make according to each holiday, for the babies to wear for their photos.”
As part of their project, Halligan, Horton and Ringer will work to showcase such inspirational photos in a display case and to attend a conference to enhance their already acute ability to deliver compassionate care. “So many parents derive tremendous hope from seeing pictures of babies, who were once critically ill but are now thriving at home,” said Horton, explaining that many former NICU parents send photos of the babies at various stages of development.
The Thomson Compassionate Care Scholarships and the Thomson Leadership Award were presented on March 30. “We very much appreciate the staff, family members and friends that have gathered together tonight to remember Dennis Thomson and what he taught us about putting patients first. Let us think of Dennis and his example and remember the real reason that led each of us to work in health care. Let us learn, from those we recognize tonight, how each of us can keep compassionate patient care at the forefront of our daily tasks at BWH,” said BWH President Gary Gottlieb, as he addressed the proud colleagues, family members and friends of the deserving recipients, including Halligan, Horton and Ringer.
“I feel so honored to have been recognized as a Compassionate Care Scholar,” said Halligan. “It’s the little things we do as caregivers that make such a tremendous different.”
Nursing has been well represented among the roster of Compassionate Care Scholars since the scholarship program debuted five years ago.