Christie Bullara

Christie Bullara

Christie Bullara, RN, BSN, CCRN

Newborn ICU
VCU Health
Richmond, Virginia
United States
Christie went to the store and bought colorful ink pads, and took handprints and footprints of him. She also made the most beautiful crafts with a poem that she translated into Spanish.

Christie has worked in the NICU for the past 4 years, and I have watched her grow into an experienced, dedicated, compassionate and knowledgeable nurse.

Three months ago, she asked me if I could be a co-primary with her for a 24-week neonate. His parents were Spanish speaking, so the NICU was especially intimidating for them. I knew that Christie would take time, using interpretation services to involve the parent's in his care as much as possible.

The neonate's first two weeks of life went surprisingly well, he was a typical 24-week neonate that required mechanical ventilation.

However, over the next several weeks, his respiratory status continued to decline. It was determined he had a bronchopulmonary fistula, but pediatric surgery planned to wait for him to get big enough that he could tolerate surgery.

During the time he was growing, Christie was a strong advocate for getting him out of the bed for his parents to hold. Christie took pictures of the parents holding him for the first time. The parents told me that Christie also let them assist with taking his temperature, weights, bathing, diaper changes, and oral care, which meant so much to them.

The neonate's story began to take a turn for the worse after he had his first surgery. Sadly, his surgical site opened back up due to the high ventilator settings required to oxygenate him. His condition deteriorated even further, and he was placed on ECMO as a final option for survival.

Christie stayed 4 hours extra to assist with the ECMO cannulation. Despite assisting with ECMO several times, she was not checked off on sitting ECMO yet. Christie knew that the neonate and his parents needed consistency now more than ever while he was on ECMO, so she picked up extra shifts and completed her ECMO competency.

The neonate had his final surgery on a Tuesday, while on ECMO, and sadly he began to bleed heavily. On Thursday after surgery, Christie and I were called at home for a meeting to talk to the parents about redirecting care. Even though Christie had worked the previous night and was coming back to work that night, she came in four hours early so that she could attend the meeting. After the meeting, the family was tearful and not ready to redirect care.

On Friday, Christie and I were called again for another meeting, and this time the parents were told that there was nothing else that we could do. Christie and I sat with the parents while they mourned and helped them come to the decision to turn off the ECMO pump on Saturday at 10 AM. Christie came in extra on Saturday as well, to be here to help me during my scheduled shift as we redirected care.

Before turning off the ECMO pump, Christie went to the store and bought colorful ink pads, and took handprints and footprints of him. She also made the most beautiful crafts with a poem that she translated into Spanish. She got the Doppler from L&D and recorded his heartbeat in a heartbeat bear. Christie knew how important these memories would be for the parents.

In addition to Christie being such a wonderful nurse to this neonate, she was also a wonderful co-primary nurse for me. She was there to offer her love and support for him and his parents on the difficult day that ECMO was turned off. For all these reasons, Christie is a true DAISY Nurse.