Neonatal nurses, Michelle White and Marilee Lawson, were both named 2014 NICU Heroes Awards finalists. These outstanding neonatal professionals were chosen as finalists alongside two other fellow neonatal nurses, Natalie Sorrentino and Kathy Knoll.
Michelle White of Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children in Huntsville, Alabama is one of the four finalists for the 2014 NICU Heroes Awards. The neonatal intensive care unit has had a special place in Michelle White’s heart because her son, Hunter, was born prematurely. Their family’s time in the NICU inspired White to become a nurse. She has spent the last 13 years in the NICU, striving to provide the same level of care once given to her son. The challenges that come along with being a NICU nurse can sometimes seem defeating, but for White, the positives outweigh the negatives. The hard work and dedication can lead to the ultimate reward of witnessing little ones fight a long, hard battle and in the end go home with their loved ones.
Among a team of doctors and nurses, White stood out to parent nominator Carrie Tyler. It wasn’t just her dedication to her daughter Braelyn that spoke volumes to the family, but also the extra effort White gave to Braelyn’s big brother. Judy Dodd, a NICU nurse who works alongside White, also recommended her for the award and described her as an ethical, empathetic nurse and a true NICU Hero.
Fellow neonatal nurse Marilee Lawson of Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo, California is another 2014 NICU Heroes Awards finalist. Since April 1995, Lawson has been working with preemies in hospital NICUs — a place she calls a “very special” part of the hospital after shifting her nursing career from working with adults. Nineteen years later, she hasn’t looked back. Often times, NICU experiences can be both challenging and rewarding. Medical care aside, Lawson recalls spending time with one particular family, where together they taught each other about life, love and needing each other to make one sweet baby feel comfortable and loved.
Heather Strawser’s son was in the NICU at Sierra Vista for 133 days. Lawson, her son’s nurse, provided strength and hope during this difficult time, motivating Strawser to nominate Lawson for this award. On top of her excellent skills as a nurse, the way Lawson uses humor to put families at ease is what led fellow R.N. Judith Fairweather to also recommend Lawson as a NICU Hero.
Kelli Kelley, founder of Hand to Hold and co-sponsor of the awards, says “We are grateful for the NICU heroes who reach beyond their job descriptions to provide comfort, understanding and words of encouragement to help parents navigate their NICU journey. Our NICU Heroes strive to integrate parents into the daily care of their baby to ensure they are ready to meet the needs of a medically fragile child after discharge.”
Congratulations to all four finalists, and thank you for all you do! Be sure to watch for the 2015 NICU Heroes Award nominations in the spring!