'You Could Tell This Was Her Passion': Nurse Honored for Work on Methodist Hospital Acute Care for Elders Unit
Published: Aug. 14, 2020
Last Thanksgiving was anything but happy for Albertha Schmid and her family.
Albertha’s mother, Sue Dawson, had suffered a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation (AFib) earlier in the month. After being hospitalized and released, she saw some improvement but was still experiencing weakness, fatigue and stomach issues.
On Thanksgiving, the family took Sue to the Methodist Women’s Hospital Emergency Department, where they learned that her kidneys were in acute distress. After she was transferred to Methodist Hospital, doctors determined that she faced not only AFib and kidney issues, but also a third dangerous health condition: sepsis.
“She had a lot of serious issues that were happening to her,” Albertha said. “It was just absolutely a nightmare for us because she was trying to fight three different things. So having someone like Amber there really helped her to feel better.”
A passion for the job
Amber Baltaro, BSN, RN, graduated from Nebraska Methodist College’s accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing program in May 2018. Soon after, she landed her first job on the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit at Methodist Hospital. She quickly found it to be a good match.
“With the ACE unit, I like the fact that we’re dealing with individuals that have had a long, full life,” Baltaro said. “I love when I get the moment to really sit down and talk to someone about their history and things they remember from decades ago.”
It wasn’t long into Sue’s 12-day stay on the ACE Unit that she and her family realized that in Baltaro, they had someone special by her side.
The nurse immediately became their advocate, regularly checking in on Sue and consulting with doctors when necessary. No task was too small, Albertha said, and Baltaro did it all with a calmness and authenticity that were hard to forget.
“I never felt like she was pretending to be nice or that this was just part of a job,” Albertha said. “She saw my mom as a person that she would treat with respect. It’s just something that stuck with me. Amber was who she was, regardless of her position. Regardless of who my mom was, who we were, when you dealt with Amber, you dealt with someone who was truly compassionate, who truly cared about people and wanted to help. You could tell this was her passion.”
“A rare breed”
Baltaro made such an impact on Sue and her family that they nominated her for The DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses for extraordinary skill and compassion.
“Amber is humble, level-headed and authentic. It is obvious that her patients are her top priority,” Albertha wrote when nominating Baltaro for the award. “It isn't easy assisting a patient with ‘less glamourous’ aspects of the job, but she did it with professionalism while ensuring my mom felt dignity and respect. I think sometimes this gets forgotten in trying to care for others.”
Sue described Baltaro as special and said her kindness still sticks out to her months later.
“She was very nice,” said Sue, who had a pacemaker inserted in the spring and continues to recover. “Anything I needed to do, she was there to help. That’s why I’m thankful for her.”
In fact, Albertha said, Baltaro made an impact on every family member who visited Sue.
“We all noticed this about Amber,” Albertha said. “My husband even said, ‘I really like her. She’s very kind.’ That was the first time he ever talked about a nurse that way. For us to all notice those types of qualities about Amber made me feel like I really needed to do something to acknowledge her professionalism and how unique she is.”
She went on: “She’s just a rare breed. I’ve encountered several nurses and health care providers, and she’s at the top.”
Credit to go around
One morning last week, Baltaro’s colleagues on the ACE Unit paused their work to gather and surprise her with The DAISY Award. After hearing Albertha’s nomination letter, Baltaro said she was speechless. She may have been wearing a mask, but her eyes gave away her smile.
She was quick to point out the role the tight-knit staff played in her receiving the honor. Their support and teamwork, she said, allows each of them to provide The Meaning of Care.
“Listening to something like that that meant so much to someone,” Baltaro said, “it just shows that those little things that we do obviously make an impact.”