Janet Gentry
May 2019
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
University of Virginia Health System
United States




Janet Gentry is always compassionate and loved by her patients but recently I saw this compassion at a new level. Janet recently had surgery and was on leave. She returned to work after many weeks off and was given a 22 1/7 week gestation infant who was about 5 days old and overall defying the odds. The family was optimistic and praising the care they received in the NICU. The following day things changed for this neonate. The neonate had clinical deterioration. Janet was not working on this particular day but had come in to obtain her TB screen and had swung by the unit to check on her patient from the previous day. Just as she came in we were giving the mother of this child the news that clinically her child was worsening. The father of the baby was not present at the time. Janet sat with the mother and explained in alternate words what we were saying and helped the mother to understand all that was happening at the child's bedside. She explained what the nurse was doing, what procedures I was doing as I did them, and what the ultrasound results were in such a way that the parents felt truly understood. They would look to Janet for confirmation and explanation of everything that was being told to them. This bond that occurred after one day of Janet caring for their child was remarkable and also not uncommon for the patients that Janet cares for.
The child continued to deteriorate throughout the day. Janet never left the family's side. She arrived at noon for a routine TB screening and I am sure had no intention of staying at the hospital all day on her day off but I also think she had no intention of leaving this family after she realized what they were going through. The child had surgery at the bedside and the parents asked that Janet remain next to their child during the procedure and of course, she did despite it being 6 pm now. The compassion Janet showed to this family and the way she embraced the job of providing care to the entire family went above and beyond what is expected. I was in awe of Janet during this time. My hope for all families when they enter the NICU is that they find a person whom they can trust and turn to no matter if that person is a nurse, an RT, a physician, etc.. Janet on a regular basis provides this role for her patients and on this occasion I saw it above and beyond.
I will not claim to be the best writer and I am never sure that any words can do justice to the excellence Janet showed to this family and to our unit. I am forever grateful for her for everything she does but this one example is one that I felt went above and beyond.
Thank you, Janet, for all you do in the NICU and for the excellent care you provide to our most fragile patients.