Celebrating National Nursing Week: May 9th to 15th, 2016

National Nursing Week is celebrated the week of May 12th – the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. At the Children’s, our nurses work in highly specialized units, departments and clinical teams and collaborate with various health professionals to provide the best possible care to our patients and their families day in and day out. Please join us in thanking them for all they do!

Bernadette Baltazar, Post-Operative Care Unit Nurse, Montreal Children’s Hospital

“Getting to know families is a very important part of my job,” says Bernadette Baltazar, who has worked at the Montreal Children’s Hospital for the past 8 years. “When I first meet them, I let them know, ‘You’re my boss because you know my patient the best’. I need to get to know the family to be able to take good care of my patient.”

As a post-operative care unit nurse, Bernadette’s role is threefold: to monitor patients who’ve just had surgery as they are waking up from anesthesia, to help control their pain following their operation, and to help reassure families who are understandably anxious about their child’s condition. It’s a lot of responsibility, but Bernadette is up for the challenge.

Working a 2-week rotation of night shifts and days shifts, Bernadette is often working in the early hours of the morning or the calm hours of the night, monitoring between one to two patients at a time. “I like working nights because I can work at my own pace and there are few disruptions,” she says.

Working in the PACU is a change of pace for the veteran nurse, who previously worked on the hospital’s medical unit at the bedside, but it offers some unique opportunities. “The best part of my shift is when I can take a patient’s IV out and they get into a wheelchair and leave the hospital pain free, smiling and waving goodbye,” she says. “At that point they are no longer my patients, they’re my friends!”

Dimitra Doanis, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Dimitra Doanis is passionate about working in pediatric intensive care. “I really love it,” she says. “I love working with children, being at their bedside, and always having new challenges to deal with.”

Having first worked in geriatric medicine, Dimitra decided after a few years that she was ready for a new challenge. She was offered a position in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the Children’s in 2001, and has worked there ever since. “It was a complete change from my previous work, obviously. I really couldn’t have chosen anything more different than this area of pediatrics.”

The Children’s PICU team includes pediatric specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, nutritionists and many other healthcare professionals who treat critically ill or injured infants, children, and teenagers for conditions and procedures as varied as cardiovascular surgery, tumour neurosurgery, trauma, and solid organ transplantation.

Dimitra is one of the senior nurses in the PICU and works almost exclusively at night. “I’m really not a morning person!” she says with a laugh. “I actually function better at night.” As part of her professional development, Dimitra received certification in two specialty areas: extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).

Dimitra says her colleagues inspire her all the time, and the sense of teamwork they’ve developed makes it seem like a large, extended family.  “I work with some amazing people, and there’s a feeling that you can always depend on each other,” she says. “We all have a common purpose, and we do everything we can to look after the children under our care. To see a child get better and get ready to go home is really special. Honestly, I feel really lucky to do what I do.”

Jennifer Bailey, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse, Montreal Children’s Hospital

Jennifer Bailey has been a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the MCH for 15 years. “When I was still studying, I did a stage—my last one, in fact—in the PICU and fell in love with it. So, here I am, 15 years later!”

Jennifer comes by her love of nursing naturally. She has always been one to help and take care of others, and it also didn't hurt that she was surrounded by nurses growing up. “My grandmother, two great aunts and an aunt were all nurses, so I guess it's in the genes,” she says with a smile.

When asked to describe her best quality as a nurse, Jennifer says it’s her compassion. She always tries to put herself in her patient’s shoes - or their parents’ shoes for that matter. "When it comes to my patients, I take care of them as if they were my own kids. I’m very protective of them.”

With Jennifer’s experience, she is often in charge of the nursing team when she’s on duty. She’s also certified in continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) and works with several other people on the CRRT team. Jennifer also oversees the PICU’s social activities—a “committee of one” she jokes—which is an important part of staff life on the unit.

Like many of her co-workers, Jennifer says the most rewarding part of her work is when a child gets better and no longer needs to be in the PICU. “Many of our kids are so critically ill, that when they get well enough to transfer to a ward or go home, it means everything,” she says. “And there's no better feeling than when they come back to visit or when we get photos or updates from families, showing us how well they're doing!”