Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center
Kathleen LePain is one of the most experienced nurses in our Neonatal ICU. She brings an unprecedented level of knowledge, security, and a unique compassion to everyone she meets. She embodies the characteristics we should all strive for as nurses: skilled practice and a caring, truthful, compassionate heart. In my five years working alongside Kathleen, I have watched her boldly advocate for our tiny patients and their families during some of the most challenging moments in our unit. She has a supernatural gift of providing care, comfort, and empathy for families in their darkest hours. I have watched her hold tiny, precious life in her hands as it has slipped from this earth. I have watched her tenderly wrap a baby and pass it to its mother's arms for a final goodbye. I have watched her teach new nurses, including myself, with passion and a high expectation for excellence. This expectation is not fueled by a checklist or leveraged judgment but rather by her passion for giving young nurses the skills and knowledge to provide the best care for the babies we care for. Today I watched a sacred moment between Kathleen and a baby's mother in our unit. This brief moment was a moment that was not meant to be witnessed by anyone. Yet, through this moment, I was privileged to catch a tiny glimpse into the relationship Kathleen forms with the parents in our NICU. I watched this compassionate, bold, caring nurse gently cradle the face of a tired, scared, worried mother in her hands and comfort her while she cried. This mother has had a month of receiving hard news. Her baby has been in the NICU for 11 weeks. This mother has watched the infant's twin sister grow and heal enough to leave the NICU, leaving her sister behind. For the last several weeks, this mother has had one child at home and one in the NICU. Many days, she has been told her baby doesn't seem to be getting better. Today, while her baby was crying, this sweet mother broke down with the weight of the last two months' trials on her shoulders and the unknown of what is to come looming ahead. As I stood beside her and comforted her crying baby, I was at a loss as to what to say to the mother. My heart hurt for her, but I didn't have the words. At that moment, Kathleen came into the room and knelt down on the floor beside this mother. She cradled the mother's face in her hands and spoke the kindest words of truth and comfort to her. In this beautiful moment, I watched my coworker comfort this mother with a heart that only a fellow mother could have. She stepped into the pain with her and just sat with her. I have watched Kathleen care for babies the entire time I have known her, but today, I saw her beautifully and compassionately care for this mother. These moments are the unseen moments. Our actions when we think no one is watching define our character. These are the moments that Kathleen shares with parents that most people will never see. But today, I watched her. I hope I can say that I learned from her. We learn many things in nursing school and many skills once we enter the 'real world' of nursing. One thing that is impossible to teach is extraordinary compassion. I believe it has to be modeled. Kathleen embodies this kind of visceral compassion. I witnessed only a brief moment that I will forever remember in my mind as an example of extraordinary nursing care, compassion, and healing. Kathleen deserves to be recognized for the care she provides to our patients and their families in these quiet, sacred moments.