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2022 Salute to Nurses: Letters U-Z

UMass Memorial Health 

Kristin Blomgren, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Campus

Kristin is the most caring person I know. Her patients always come first. This past year was difficult for everyone, especially the nurses, with the massive increase in the number of patients per nurse. Kris is the mother to two daughters. Lauren is a freshman at UMass Lowell and Sarah is a senior at Worcester State University. Sarah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old. This was quite an adjustment for her entire family. They all pitched in and gave Sarah all the support she could handle. However, not once did this take time away from Kris’s patients.—Nominated by Mimi Dow


Alyssa Brennan, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Alyssa is the kind of nurse every family hopes to get. After my mom’s brain aneurysm and many more scary events during her stay in the UMass ICU, Alyssa has treated her like family. She gives her the best care, is great to us on the phone or in person, and you can see she genuinely cares. She never makes you feel bad for calling in and takes the time to explain Mom’s medical condition and care in detail. Mom lights up when I mention Alyssa’s name. We will never be able to thank you enough, Alyssa.—Nominated by Jessica Cote


Stacey Bucci, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Stacey has an excellent frame of reference. She was caring, compassionate, and most of all empathetic. It was almost as if she wore her heart on her sleeve. You could see the passion in her eyes. Most importantly, she made me feel like my life mattered. I probably wouldn’t be alive today if not for her help in my time of need.—Nominated by Zachary Souza


Jennifer Correale, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Campus

Jennifer always exceeds expectations. As an ICU nurse, Jen thinks critically when treating patients. She approaches every interaction with compassion and is devoted to selfless practice and patient advocacy. She is one of the best nurses I’ve ever come across in my career and deserves endless recognition for her efforts at the bedside.—Nominated by Christina Carbone


Caryn Cote, UMass Memorial Health, Health Alliance-Clinton Hospital 

Caryn Cote, who works in our emergency room, is the nicest and kindest nurse I know. She advocates for patients so hard that it often keeps her here well after hours. An emergency room is the most unpredictable of clinical settings and Caryn never fails to immediately rise to any situation in front of her. Caryn often works outside of her job description to give the patient whatever they need. If myself or a family member is ever in need of help, I hope Caryn will be there to care for us.—Nominated by Ashley Arseni


Gloria Draper, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Campus

Beyond being an outstanding nurse, Gloria is a great mentor, co-worker, and trainer. Gloria comes to work every day with a positive attitude and always gives 100 percnt. There is never a day she doesn’t work had. She is dedicated to her patients, team, and clinic. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and never says no. Besides doing her own work, she’s always working on other tasks to ensure our patients get the best possible care. She is a team player, and her work ethic is admirable.—Nominated by Allison White


Donna Dunn, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

On Jan. 29, Donna saved my life. We’d had a snowstorm that day, and I went out to clear the driveway and mailbox. It just so happened that the rest of my neighbors, including Donna, had the same idea. While I was clearing the mailbox area, I felt a tightness in my chest. Then I blacked out and dropped to the ground. My wife, Halina, looked out the window and saw me on the ground with Donna and a few other neighbors around me. Donna had seen me fall and rushed over to help. By the time my wife got to the end of the driveway, Donna had already started CPR and was instructing the others on how to assist. Another neighbor, Brian, had been walking his dog and Donna immediately had him alternating with her, doing chest compressions while guiding my wife to do rescue breaths. Donna made sure another neighbor called for EMS. For about 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived, I had no pulse, but Donna kept me going until the EMS could use a defibrillator to restore my heart. I subsequently had double bypass surgery. The doctors informed me that my kind of heart attack has only a 10 percent survival rate, and that without the immediate administration of proper CPR I likely would not have survived. My family and I are so grateful to all my neighbors, and especially Donna. Had it not been for her quick actions, guidance, and determination I would not be around to nominate her.—Nominated by John Miko


Jennifer Johnson, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Jennifer puts herself before others. She speaks out on issues that need to be discussed when others just stand back and watch. She’s always generous to patients, no matter how much she is going through. Jennifer is a single mother and a hard-working nurse.—Nominated by Madeline McNeish


Simone Lacroix, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Campus

Last November, I was sent to maternity triage for monitoring due to high gestational blood pressure, and to check for signs of preeclampsia. Simone was my nurse. I was stressed and had wanted so badly to do a trial of labor to avoid another cesarean section, but during visit to triage it was recommended to do a planned C-section that evening because my daughter was also breech, and unable to be moved.  


Simone immediately saw that I was overwhelmed and suggested that a nice first step would be to avoid any decisions until my bloodwork came back. She also suggested pulling in the OB-GYN to have a broader conversation about options once the labs came back. By doing this, she immediately put me back in the driver’s seat and demonstrated that I had agency to make choices and ask questions about what happened next. After she arranged the meeting with the rest of my care team, she asked about my care preferences.. I believe that Simone’s care was the difference between a medical experience and a HEALTH experience. Simone cared about my entire personphysical, emotional, intellectual. She allowed me agency and turned what would have felt like another out-of-control traumatic C-section into something that I chose, using the information at hand to have the best possible outcome. Thank you, Simone.—Nominated by Eileen Kelly


Matthew Leclaire, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Matt brings calm and excellent care to our pediatric ER. He has a great sense of humor and always goes the extra mile for his patients and all the other departments. He never hesitates to transport patients, give directions, or offer assistance. Thank you, Matt, for all the smiles you bring.—Nominated by Ashley Fournier


Jacquelyn Oxford, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University  Campus

She made me feel comfortable, was thorough, and helped me tremendously.—Nominated by Jeff Vaz


Ambar Pena, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Ambar proved to be the best nurse I’ve ever seen. She has a great personality, knows how to care for her patient, and has a comforting aura. When I envision the perfect nurse, Ambar shows that I’ve set the bar too low. I’m grateful to have had Ambar as my nurse and will never forget her devotion to nursing. She is a gift to UMass who should be acknowledged. —Nominated by Mark Welcome


Samantha Provencher, UMass Memorial Health-Health Alliance-Leominster Hospital

Samantha has always put the patient’s needs first. When COVID first started, she showed up even though it was a danger to her family. She gave it everything and continued to take care of patients regardless. Samantha has never been afraid to step up, and I know for sure if I needed a nurse, I’d want it to be her.—Nominated by Tracey Coetzee


Shawna Strazzere, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

Shawna is an amazing Emergency Room nurse. As a firefighter/paramedic, I’ve brought very sick patients to UMASS Hospital many times during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shawna always demonstrates exceptional patient care and greets EMS with a smile. Patients instantly feel relieved when they see how awesome their nurse is. Seeing Shawna always makes a tough day better. On top of being an exceptional ER nurse, she has been studying hard to become a nurse practitioner so that she can take her patient care skills to the next level. Shawna is the perfect candidate for this honor.—Nominated by Erin Cullinane


Stephanie Ward, UMass Memorial Medical Center, University Campus

My mother has been in the ICU since suffering a brain aneurysm and has had a very rough road and scary times. Stephanie has gone beyond the call of duty from Day One. Most recently, she went to another floor to find a lift to get my mom into a chair after 46 days in bed; this warmed our hearts. Once in the chair, Steph took off her own scrub cap, put it on my mom to cover her shaved section of hair, and took her for a ride around the hallways. When she is working we never have to worry. We know our mom’s getting nothing but the best care.—Nominated by Jessica Cote



VA Boston Healthcare System

Almerinda Stoddard, VA Boston, Jamaica Plain

Almerinda is smart and caring. I’m a 100 percent disabled veteran. I don’t have much strength and need someone who’s “over the top.” I’ve had at least 40 surgeries and Mimi has been 

there for most of them. I know the surgeons are glad, too. She sometimes calls my wife to see how things are going. I know my wife appreciates the call. I could go on and on about her.—Nominated by Francis M. Crowley


Vasculitis and Glomerulonephritis Center

Marissa Pipecelli, Vasculitis and Glomerulonephritis Center

Marissa has a great role in our clinic. She always makes sure she provides the best care to our visiting patients. She is always there to help, answer questions from co-workers or family members, and call pharmacies to get approval for meds. She’s efficient, works hard, has a big heart, and most importantly listens to others carefully. Marissa is currently going to nurse practitioner school and I’m sure that she’ll be an immensely great NP.—Nominated by Sara Hammouche


Visiting Nurses of Boston

Jill Beverly, Visiting Nurses of Boston

Visiting Nurses are the unsung heroines of the medical community. I came home from an extensive peripheral artery bypass, surgery that rearranged the blood flow system in both legs. In spite of assurances from the hospital medical staff, I was worried about my recuperation. That worry was erased the next day in the person of Jill Beverly. With expert skill, she examined my incisions and re-wrapped bandages. She then instructed my wife on how to do daily care, explaining what to expect. As I healed, Jill continued her weekly oversight, with careful attention, clear directions, and even boxes of supplies. In all, Jill set up and performed the framework for my care. And she partnered with my wife to see me to recovery. Through the worst days of the pandemic in January and February, while in our home, Jill gave us her more than 30 years of experience, endless good cheer, and reassurance that I was making progress. Now, 12 weeks later, with stronger legs and a more confident outlook, I’m about ready to reenter life. 


Medical breakthroughs get the headlines. But the business of at-home care—via the Visiting Nurses of Boston—keeps so many of us healing and healthy.—Nominated by Dale DeLetis



VNA Care

Esther Asdourian, VNA Care Network, Needham

From the moment I answered the telephone and heard Esther’s warm, professional voice, I knew that I would be in the hands of a highly skilled, proficient, and caring visiting nurse. She began her initial visit with a sincere introduction and clearly described the purpose and scope of the visit. She patiently listened to the information I needed to share, executed the necessary procedures in a competent yet gentle manner, and clearly communicated the information I needed for future care. I trusted her skill and judgment. 


Home care is unique in that the nurse has sole responsibility for the quality of care. Esther has the skills and knowledge to deliver care at this level. She visited several times and each visit was equally productive. She completed visits in a timely way and never seemed rushed and impatient.

Esther proved herself to be a “nurse’s nurse.” I taught home health nursing for many years and practiced as a visiting nurse, so I know the complexities of this role.—Nominated by Rachel Spector


Gina Grady and Marion Kettell, VNA Hospice & Palliative Care

Having a loved one enter hospice care brings myriad emotions (sadness, acceptance of the inevitability of death, etc.). In such a tough time, my family and I were gifted with an abundance of caring and my mother’s primary hospice nurse, Gina Grady, was a huge part of our positive experience. From the very start of my mother’s hospice journey, we knew she was in good hands. Gina is a supremely competent nurse and always made sure that my mother had everything she needed, whether it be hospital bed, oxygen, medications, and all the other supplies we needed.  

Competence is great in a caregiver, but it isn’t everything. Gina also has warmth, compassion, and a great sense of humorsuch a blessing, because things aren’t always great in a hospice situation. 


I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Marion Kettell, who was the hospice nurse’s aide. She was an absolute angel. She is excellent at her job and always made my mother look and feel better. She took her time and even painted my mother’s nails—that brought her a smile. Her kindness and compassion will never be forgotten.  


As a nurse myself for over three decades, I can spot caregivers who stand out, and Gina and Marion are both excellent at their jobs and wonderful human beings. I told my mother repeatedly that she was lucky she got “the A Team,” meaning Gina and Marion. But I also felt lucky and thankful to have met and been supported by both of them.—Nominated by Maura Collins


Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Gwen Dow, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Gwen started as one of the nurses in our Drive-Thru COVID Testing Site, where she was a major component of the testing team. Gwen became one of the call center nurses who triage incoming patient calls for all primary care needs. She’s been working in the call center all week and then spending her weekends at the COVID Drive Thru. Gwen was dedicated to making sure patient testing needs were met. 


Gwen has been an integral part of the WDH/WHP team and has focused on keeping our patients safe. She did all of this with a smile, a laugh, and a kind heart. As if the COVID-19 pandemic weren’t challenging enough, Gwen lost her husband in a tragic motorcycle accident. She took well-deserved time off to take care of herself and her family. Upon returning to the office and the testing site, she was still the upbeat and amazing nurse that we had all grown to love. The staff rallied around Gwen and supported her as best they could. 

Great people deserve to be recognized, and she deserves the highest recognition possible. We are lucky to have Gwen.—Nominated by Simone Dubay


Lee Gaudette, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Lee and I work together in the ER, where he’s sometimes the charge nurse, sometimes a trainer and mentor with many years of experience. I can speak for everyone in the department when I say he’s an asset to our department and Wentworth-Douglass. When he’s working, the patients couldn’t ask for better care, knowledge, and compassion. His calm, gentle, and friendly demeanor toward patients and coworkers is top-notch. His daily motivation and teamwork are valued by all, and his insight and critical eye to detail have saved many patients. It can feel like the busiest, hardest night ever, and you still get the same Lee. He always knows what to do, how to do it, and what to say.—Nominated by Kelley Waterhouse


Meghan Schaeffer, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

I’ve watched Meghan work extremely hard to become a nurse. She started as a medical assistant and wanted so badly to become a nurse that she went through school while raising her daughter and working. She is quite determined and dedicated, performing all duties of a nurse. Meghan’s passion was to work in the Emergency Department, and she’s exceptional at it. Meghan gives her nursing duties her all.—Nominated by Deborah Guilmett



Winchester Hospital

Judy Anderson, Winchester Hospital Pain Management Center

Judy is very personable with everyone, whether you are a patient or co-worker. I am both. I was working with Judy when having my injection. I was very nervous, and she talked to me through the whole procedure, then stooped down to me if she noticed I was stressing. Judy will reach out to help you even if she has a lot to do. She never has a bad word to say about anybody. Judy could calm the meanest person out there, and they would not even know it.—Nominated by Mary Stanton


Inpatient and Emergency Room Nurses, Winchester Hospital

Working the night shift, you can get accustomed to feeling alone, but not at Winchester Hospital. I’ve worked the night shift for six years, and I’ve met some of the most amazing nurses. During the peaks of this pandemic, I have seen more dedication, strength, knowledge, and compassion from these fine women and men, whom I’m proud to call my colleagues, than I’ve ever seen in my 11 years of nursing. I watched nurses fight for their patients, hold their hands, and rub their backs while they died alongside a stranger-turned-confidante in their last days. I watched them juggle multiple drips and medications, and use their expert knowledge to help keep patients alive long enough to say goodbye to their loved ones. I watched them listen to a patient while various other people wanted their attention, making them feel like they were the most important person in the world. I watched them cry, hugged them, and told them I knew how they felt when they lost a patient.


We’ve lost more nurses than we can count to the burnout of this pandemic, in this job. To those who stay, day after day, night after night, and continue to fight for our patientsI thank you. Now, as a manager who’s no longer a staff nurse, I have even more fight in me to give to you, and to ALWAYS let you know how very appreciated you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.—Nominated by Emily Callery


C3 Medical/Surgical Nurses, Winchester Hospital

I am writing to spotlight a group of nurses who make progress annually, monthly, and daily by embodying the spirt of a “Nightingale Nurse” —one who is curious, enthusiastic, patient-centric, and team-focused. Winchester Hospital’s C3 Medical/Surgical nurses embrace the art of the possible. This mindset heightens each nurse’s resilience to support peers and exhibit compassion while tending to patients. 

This past year instilled a fierce, heartfelt determination to come together and dig deeper into the meaning of nursing after seeing so much death and hardship. The C3 team embraces the preciousness of life during every moment of care for the feeble and infirm.

The C3 nurses are dynamic. From differing communities, races, and backgrounds they come together to provide extraordinary care to each patient.—Nominated by Debra Barbuto


Denise Darlington, Winchester Hospital

Denise has oriented every single nurse who has started at Winchester Hospital for the past 17 years. How many nurses has this warm, smart, committed nurse welcomed into the organization? Who can count? Denise models from Day One what it means to be a magnet nurse in a community hospital. And how many nursing students has this educator helped find the right place for their clinical experience? Who can count? Nursing instructors throughout the region have repeatedly expressed gratitude for the gentle way Denise shepherds these students into their placements. Denise has spent the greater part of her nursing career teaching, caring for, helping, and developing nursing students, new graduate nurses, and experienced new nurses. The thought of trying to count the enormous number of these fortunate students and nurses is mind-boggling.  Denise is the champion of the students and nurses who have gone on to excel in their practice—in large part because Denise gave them a solid start.—Nominated by Kathleen Beyerman


Rebecca Reuland, Winchester Hospital

Becky always maintains a calm and cheery disposition, providing support not only to her patients but her co-workers as well. She can always be counted on and is willing to help in any way she can. She has a way of setting patients at ease that can only improve their care.—Nominated by Seana Blanchard


Donna Sherrill, Winchester Hospital

Donna does a fantastic job as the assistant chief nursing officer of both maternal child health and surgical services. She provides support, strength, and stability to every department. The past few years have been increasingly difficult in hospitals. Donna has continued to support, motivate, and share her vision of patient safety, achieving better outcomes for patients. Donna has decided to retire, but not without a plan to share her knowledge. She has spent the last year mentoring new leaders. Succession planning is important in nursing and Donna has taken this on with enthusiasm to watch others grow. She guides, solves problems, and promotes personal growth for every new leader. I wouldn’t be where I am today as a leader without her. More than just a nurse, a caregiver, an advocate, and a mentor, she’s devoted more than 30 years to the health-care profession. We need to honor the nurses who pass on their knowledge to new nurses and new leaders, for without them we would be lost.—Nominated by Patricia Barry Godino

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