Brenda Baranowski

Brenda Baranowski

Brenda Baranowski, RN

Palliative Care, Hem/Onc
Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin - Froedtert Hospital
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
United States
The next morning Brenda walked into my room and I immediately felt I was enveloped in a cocoon of "safety" and I knew everything was fine.

I have been a breast cancer patient at Froedtert Hospital since my diagnosis in February.  My husband and I moved all our medical care to Froedtert after seeing specialists there for various things.  Once I had the cancer diagnosis and began treatment, I knew we had made the right decision.

My surgery and chemo treatments were progressing well until June when I had severe pain on my left side and was admitted with a fever from an unknown source of infection.  I ended up being discharged in July but developed further complications which pinpointed the source of the original infection and caused my re-admittance later in July.

Brenda Baranowski was my first shift nurse and I knew from the minute she came in my room that years of knowledge and patient care had just walked through the door.  Without disruption she closely followed my care, managing not only my medicines but making certain my care was seamless.  When new tests were ordered she made certain I was informed of when and what was to be performed so that when the physicians came in to speak to me, I was listening from an informed perspective, so I was prepared to ask any questions I had. 

When it became apparent that I would have to suspend my cancer treatment for some months (huge disappointment) and face colon surgery, I was filled with sadness and anxiety.  Since my case cut across several medical specialties, a series of tests and exams were ordered, and my room became a parade ground for doctors, residents, and medical students.

An incident occurred one evening (which has been perfectly resolved and need not be the focus here) which shook me to the core and "shattered" my sense of safety.  I found this a shocking part of myself since I had been a patient advocate for six family members, some on multiple occasions, in hospital settings and come from a family of physicians.  I knew the system, patient rights, nursing responsibilities, etc. but when faced with a situation where I was the patient my "gut" told me something was wrong, and I lost the feeling of empowerment over my body.  I became apprehensive and very upset.  The night nurse was outstanding, and my husband was present to advocate for me and what could have been more traumatic was resolved. 

The initial problem was resolved but all night I replayed how I reacted, why I was right, why did I lose the sense of empowerment and safety, and what would have happened to someone else not as familiar with hospital settings.  The next morning Brenda walked into my room and I immediately felt I was enveloped in a cocoon of "safety" and I knew everything was fine. We were able to fully discuss everything that upset me; she listened and communicated all my concerns to the appropriate people.  Her efforts ensured everything was addressed and resolved to my satisfaction, procedures were discussed internally, and facility needs have been addressed.

I don't want what went wrong to be the focus of this, what I want to point out is what went right.  Many, many nurses have years of experience and medical skills to care for their patients but having this inexplicable ability to fill a patient with a feeling of safety and tranquility is something I have never seen or experienced before.  Brenda restored a part of me that I never knew existed. It was almost spiritual and must come from deep inside her which is why I call Brenda my "Guardian Angel".  She is deserving of the DAISY Award as an Extraordinary Nurse among many other fine nurses at Froedtert!