Tufts MC True Blue Recipient: Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant (PBMT) Unit Nurses Team: Jamie Brady, Kirsten Evans, Kimberly Kipp, Marrya Matarazza, Laura Murphy-Eagles, Kathryn Peuser, Danielle Rhoades, Kellie Rowland, Bronwen Santacroce, Heather Vallatini
Nomination from PBMT Clinical Care Technician/Unit Coordinator Rebecca Cleary:
“The Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is the most amazing team of nurses I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They have wildly different personalities, ranging from those who are energetic and bubbly constantly making patients and families laugh and smile, to those who are cool and collected, keeping stressed out coworkers and families at ease. They work as a team above all else and put the patient first. They are the constant for these patients; they know them inside and out, and advocate for their needs.
“When they disagree, they talk things out professionally and work together to find the best solution and discover new innovative techniques that will improve our unit. They are not above doing dirty work; they will peel tape off walls to prevent infection spreading, shave a patient before transplant, or give a Barbie doll a bath to show that it isn’t so scary. You will never hear them say ‘this isn’t my job’ because they happily take ownership of everything. They even find ways to connect with the most difficult patients to make their time here manageable and enjoyable. Their kindness is impossible to put into words.
“The patients are here for weeks or months at a time, and this can be difficult for the staff sometimes but these nurses handle anything that is thrown their way. Having worked many places, I have never seen nurses so fully dedicated and immersed in their work. During downtime at work they won’t be found lounging, they will be reading Hematology Oncology nursing articles or organizing the gift cards or toy supply closet. Their emotional strength is outstanding, especially alongside their vast knowledge and skills. They come in for their shift saying things like ‘I thought about this patient all weekend and I think we should try XYZ to help them with their bath time.’ They are not just nurses when they are here; they live and breathe their careers.
“As individuals they are all amazing, but as a team they are unstoppable and awe-inspiring. They know each other so well and are there for one another. When I was new to the position they welcomed me with open arms and taught me more than I thought I could ever learn in less than a year.
“I could share 100 stories for each nurse on this unit. There’s one nurse who makes birthday cakes in a sterile and safe way so that transplant patients can celebrate their birthdays. Another who personally goes to Target and buys supplies we need quickly and cannot order fast enough. One nurse spent all Halloween recruiting volunteers to do inter-unit trick or treating for the only patient that day. The nurses make special kits for kids going to the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang summer camp. Another who we call ’Suzie Sunshine’ because after staying up all day to take care of her own kids and then working 12 hours overnight she’s always smiling and makes everyone around her smile.
“About nine months ago, we had a few patients catch a hospital acquired infection call C. Difficile. This is an infection that our patients are susceptible to due to being immunocompromised. The nurses on this floor took this problem personally and every single one of them spent weeks and months looking for solutions. The night team would bleach tricycles and make sure every parent room was UV light cleaned by housekeeping. The day nurses met with housekeeping and Infection Prevention to come up with better cleaning policies. Every day someone would come in with a new idea of how we could control the spread of infection. The nurses educated the parents on the protocols we needed to follow and calmly corrected anyone who didn't abide by these safety measures. They pitched in to clean everything where the bacteria might linger. One of them said, ‘My job is to take care of the patients and this is what they need right now.’