Janine LeRoy has been a nurse for almost 30 years. If you saw her work in the PICU day in and day out, you would never know this. Her dedication to her patients and tireless work ethic would make you think she was a new nurse trying to prove herself at every opportunity she could find. Several months ago, we had a young baby admitted to our unit. It seemed like a common CT case, but we quickly realized that the family background was anything but common. The patient’s mother was a young teenager, with very little family support, who proceeded to live in our unit with her baby for the next six months. Her experience was an overwhelming one as she was regularly given complicated updates about her baby.
Many of the days were not good days for this patient as she hit setback after setback. The mother was faced with major decisions that could lead to great outcomes or major complications. Janine was there every step of the way, explaining terms and simplifying concepts so the mother could understand the challenges her baby was facing. On top of this complex situation, the patient’s mother was only given $15 every two weeks from her family. She relied on this small stipend along with support from our social work department to eat and care for herself. When Janine realized this, she proceeded to help the mother with her laundry and bring her healthy snacks so she would not rely on a diet of candy and cereal.
I have always taken such pride in UCLA’s vision statement because it includes “delivering acts of kindness.” Janine lived and breathed this sentiment every day that she worked with this patient and her young mother. Over time, the patient’s mother came to rely on Janine. It seemed like she saw Janine as more than her nurse, almost a mentor figure. Janine would spend time talking to the mother about her future and encouraging her to go back to school to pursue her dreams. Janine believed in this young mother at a time when it seemed that no one else in her life felt the same. After the patient passed away, Janine attended the funeral service to pay her respects and once again support this young mother through her grief. The patient’s mother was so grateful for Janine’s support that she asked her to sit in the front row with her family, which of course, made sense. Janine had been her family throughout this whole experience.
Working with Janine over the last five years has been such a great pleasure. Janine really cares about her patients, and she really cares about her fellow nurses. She has such an understated way of adding value to our unit. She is a mentor to our young nurses in the example that she sets for all of us. If you want to see excellent patient care, all you have to do is come to the PICU on any given day and watch Janine with her patients. You will not be disappointed. Finally, I want to offer Janine one of the greatest compliments you can receive as a nurse. If you ask her fellow nurses who they would want to care for their own loved ones if they were ever thrown into this situation, you will hear Janine’s name almost every time.