Brittany Alvarez

Brittany Alvarez

Brittany Alvarez, RN, BSN

NICU
Children's Hospital of Orange County
Orange, California
United States

This nomination is 2.5 years late, but I hope Brittany will still be considered. Our son, Luke, was in the NICU in September 2008. We were scared, nervous, and without family support (both of our families live in NY).

Our son was not critically ill, but there were many questions surrounding his diagnoses and I was having difficulty breastfeeding which was compounded by the need for strict ins and outs, i.e., he was being bottle fed pumped milk. Brittany was one of several excellent nurses we were fortunate to have on our team.

I remember walking in one morning to find Brittany bottle feeding our son. I had hoped to arrive in time to give him his feeding. She must have known this by the look on my face and immediately said, “You are not late, I just wanted to make sure he started, please take over”. She then proceeded to sit with me, offer tips, and much needed kindness while I tried to get this not hungry baby to eat. She also helped my husband when he was feeding our son, providing additional tips in a calm, supportive manner.

At one point we had a few books to read to Luke, our camera, a video camera, and a pad of paper for notes on the counter in our little area. Brittany came in with some materials and paperwork and did not have much room for her “stuff”. I immediately apologized and said, “I am sorry we are taking up all your space”. She looked at us and with the deepest compassion said, “This is your home right now. This is your space. Take as much as you need”. I still cannot tell that story (or even type it) without tears springing to my eyes. Brittany understood exactly what we needed to hear, she treated us like honored members of the team, not like guests in the way. She let us be a Mommy and Daddy despite the barrage of monitors, strangers, and fears.

On the day we were to finally have our meeting to get the final findings and diagnoses we were both anxious and worried. We knew the best and worst case scenarios, but didn’t know which one we would be handed. Brittany was not our nurse that day, but had stopped by to check on us. When we told her we would finally get Luke’s diagnoses this day, she said, “I am on the other unit, but have your nurse call me and I can come to your meeting with you if you would like”. Wow! And she did come, she sat with us, she took notes, and then after the meeting she met with us and reviewed everything. She answered our questions and most importantly reminded us that our baby was ours and healthy. Her kindness, while not repaid by us, has never been forgotten.

Since that time our son has had three major surgeries (including cardiac surgery), we have spent time in four other children’s hospitals and have had the honor and privilege of working with some of the best and most compassionate nurses in the country. However, Brittany is the first nurse we think of when we think of the absolutely best nurse, the absolutely most compassionate nurse, and the absolutely kindest nurse.

Please present the DAISY Award to Brittany for being a gift of hope, a beacon of light, a tree of knowledge, and a spirit of compassion to our family and, I am confident, to many other children and families.