Fort Worth, Texas,
10:46 AM

Cook Children's nurses - They're GREAT!

Four nurses named to the 2015 DFW Great 100

Recently, Teresa Clark, chief nursing officer at Cook Children’s, went on her safety rounds. She stopped everything she was doing on one of the medical floors when a preschool aged patient walked up to Clark with arms open wide for a hug.

Clark couldn’t resist. Just like all the times she’s spent playing with some of the long-term ventilated patient population, actually getting on the floor mats along with the children. She says this helps keep her grounded in Cook Children’s nursing philosophy of caring.

It’s that attitude that helps someone like Clark stand out and be named as one of the 2015 DFW Great 100 Nurses, sponsored by DFW Great 100 Nurses Inc.

Clark was one of four Cook Children’s nurses named to the DFW Great 100, along with Melissa Irving, Bernadette Kelly and Elizabeth Leper.

The nurses were chosen based on the following categories - role model, leadership qualities, service to the community, compassionate caregiver and significant contributions.

Here’s a glimpse of the nomination letters sent on behalf of the recipients:

Melissa Irving, Teddy Bear Transport, Neonatal Transport Nurse

Melissa has been a member of the Teddy Bear Transport team since1985. Melissa was one of the first team members; she set the standard for the qualities that we look for in our nurses today: compassion, leadership, critical thinking, and stewardship. Being a transport nurse is not exactly the same as being a bed side nurse. You play many different roles, as the team is comprised of a nurse, RT and a paramedic. You have to be able to assess and relay the information to the accepting physicians without hesitation. Melissa is an excellent teacher and often provides her expertise to the referring staff to help with the care they provide prior to our arrival …

Melissa leaves a lasting impression on her patients. She becomes that beacon of hope for those she cares for; it could be the gentle voice or the assuring touch and the ever-present smile. She has consistently received cards and emails from the families that she has cared for over the past 30 years; she just connects with people …

Melissa is such a compassionate caregiver; she has an amazing affinity to calm those around her. She cares for the entire team, the referring staff as well as her patients. She treats every child as if they were her very own; it is her calling to provide the best care.

Bernadette Kelly, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager

Recently the CICU cared for a patient (baby) whose mother never left the bedside. The patient was constantly fussy and crying secondary to his diagnosis. This family had been on the unit for a few weeks and was noted to have no additional family support and difficulty communicating with staff as English was their second spoken language.

(Kelly) was a resource nurse that day and did not have a patient assignment. She noticed the mom looked exhausted and took this as a time to discuss self-care. It was around 4 p.m. when she asked the mother if she had eaten. She said, “No, I can’t leave because he will cry if I put him down.”

(Kelly) knew due to his defect he could not cry for long periods without having status changes. This nominee volunteered to take the baby and he immediately went to sleep with her rocking him. Once his mother noticed her compassion toward her ill infant she left to go eat. When she came back, (Kelly) encouraged her to lie down and that she would still be available to hold him. Caregiver fatigue is often seen in parents that care for ill children. (Kelly) provided education to a mother with minimal family support about the importance of her eating and resting while her son was in the ICU. This young mother was so grateful for the time this nominee spent holding her baby so she could take care of herself. (Kelly’s) compassion for pediatric cardiac patients has been at the forefront of her career and secondary to her skill set, compassion and empathy, she was the PICU Employee of the Year in 2012.


Elizabeth Leeper, Perioperative Services Nurse Manager

(Leeper) is a compassionate caregiver to patients, families and staff. This nurse follows our philosophy of being a patient advocate and promoting a culture of serving others with respect for individuality and diversity. I have seen her make allowances for special needs patients collaborating with anesthesia and nurses.

For example, we have older autistic children that have extreme separation anxiety making it difficult for a nurse to push them back on a hospital bed to surgery. This nurse will step up and make special provisions for a parent to go back to the OR with the patient until they are asleep. This consideration promotes the organizations promise of a save environment for our patients and families. This candidate is very caring to staff in times of family emergencies, personal problems and need for time away from work.

Her kindness and concern for her staff make you feel you are a family member of hers. I have seen her cry and comfort her colleagues during times of lost loved ones, sick or injured children or spouse or simply having a bad day. I was stuck in Houston when my loved one was having surgery and we had to stay longer due to complications. Not only did she empathize and console me but helped me cover my shifts so I could stay and look after my loved one and not worry about my job.

Teresa Clark, Chief Nursing Officer

This nurse has been a role model for those around her for three decades. At our institution alone, she has practiced and offered sound leadership for over 25 years. She has both an advanced certification and a master’s degree. From my own conversations with this nurse, I know that she has always felt called to our profession … this calling is not something you can teach ...

While this candidate has a long history in nursing and one that illustrates her wonderful work, this past year’s contributions are remarkable. She was promoted to CNO following the retirement of a long tenured CNO. She demonstrated her strength as she held together a large nursing staff – encouraging teamwork, professionalism and collaboration during this change in leadership. She led efforts to finalize and implement a new professional development program, restructured our nursing org chart and updated our nursing practice model and nursing strategic plan. She has accomplished all of this while enrolled in her DNP program and battling metastatic breast cancer.

Still, I think her most significant contribution is her caring … which is really the defining characteristic of our profession. She cares about the children in our community, the staff she leads, the organization she works for and the profession she was called to serve.

This Great 100 nominee displays such dedication to our profession of healing hands and caring hearts that inspires me even today.

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