Deborah Young, RN, arrives at work in the morning and puts on her listening ears.
As a member of the Ask Children’s team, Young staffs the hospital’s 24/7 advice line and after-hours answering service – triaging calls, giving advice and referring patients to providers and community resources.
Young answers questions about head injuries, vomiting, fevers, when to see a doctor, and when to visit to the ER.
“It’s a different kind of nursing,” said Young. “You have to be a detective. Being a good listener is vital. You have to pick up cues such as background noises. I am glad I can be there for these families, no matter what.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by Akron Children’s nurse practitioner Marlene Hardy-Gomez.
As she walks into her office in the Haslinger Family Pediatric Care Center, she’s sure about only one thing: she will be able to set her things down. After that, her day could bring anything.
She starts out by checking in with the palliative care attending physician. Then, she might sit down with parents who are taking their child home for the first time and discuss the transition of care.
She might meet with a family about resources available for end-of-life care and how the palliative care team can be there for support.
“Every day is different. It’s challenging and I love it,” Hardy-Gomez said. “I absolutely love working with kids. They’re resilient. You are supporting them for life. Some grow up, graduate from palliative care and live a long life. Kids are amazing and always full of surprises.”
Young, a former neonatal intensive care init (NICU) nurse, and Hardy-Gomez, who previously worked in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), are hard-working and dedicated nurses who strive to provide the best care to every patient.
That’s why their co-workers nominated them for the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award, which recognizes exceptional nurses, creates awareness of professional excellence and promotes the future of the nursing profession, all while helping to advance the mission of the March of Dimes: to promote the health of babies by preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.
Nurses all over Ohio were nominated and the list was narrowed down to 159 finalists, including registered nurses Deena Barber, Ann Straton, Suzanne Nicholas and Elaine Schon from Akron Children’s.
Young and Hardy-Gomez were among the 16 winners announced on Nov. 2 in Columbus.
“The nomination itself meant a tremendous amount,” said Hardy-Gomez. “To have received recognition throughout the state of Ohio is overwhelming. I feel like I am making a difference and am motivated to do more.”
Young couldn’t believe she was even a nominee, let alone a winner. She feels honored and humbled.
“You never nurse alone,” said Young. “You always have other nurses by your side and I have the best nurses by my side. Akron Children’s is like my second home. I have been here for 35 years. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”