A Newcastle nursing assistant who works in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland has received the Maine Medical Center’s award for extraordinary nursing support staff.
Heather Brewer received the Maine Medical Center’s November 2018 PETAL Award. The children’s hospital is part of the Maine Medical Center.
Brewer, a certified nursing assistant or CNA, has worked at the children’s hospital a few days a week for the past couple years. She also works per diem at other hospitals, such as Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, and has a photography business, Salt Mills Photography.
PETAL stands for Patient, compassionate care; Exceeds expectations; Teamwork; Advocate for patients; and Leadership. The Maine Medical Center selects an honoree each month.
“The PETAL Award recognizes, rewards, and celebrates the special skills and compassionate care provided by our nursing support staff,” the nomination form for the award states. “The PETAL Award recipient demonstrates patient advocacy, leadership, (and) teamwork, and makes a difference in a patient and/or family’s life.”
Brewer was nominated by Laura Barra, a nurse in the same unit.
Brewer “is an incredible CNA, always going above and beyond with her patient interactions, with assisting in daily care, as well as helping parents with their needs while their child is in the unit,” Barra said in the nomination letter. “Heather has a way of knowing what needs to be done before she is asked.”
Brewer was surprised with the award while at work Dec. 27.
“It’s such an honor. The fact that nurses are thinking of me in that way, that they appreciate what I do with them at work – it’s a great feeling to know that they appreciate you and think highly of you,” Brewer said. “There’s a lot of respect for one another.”
Brewer is originally from Boothbay. She moved to Newcastle a little over a year ago with her boyfriend.
She said she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse.
“I have just always had a desire to work with people … not just work with people, but (care) for people,” she said. “My grandmother lived with us growing up, and I feel like there was always that caregiving feeling in the home.”
Brewer has worked as a CNA in different aspects of health care, such as geriatrics, home health, and hospice, but likes pediatric care best.
“I absolutely love what I do,” she said. “I love pediatric ICU. I would love for it to be my home. I will savor what I have right now while I’m there.”
Brewer is working toward becoming a registered nurse, and will start her clinical experience this summer at Purdue University in Augusta. She would love to continue at the pediatric ICU as an RN.
While the drive to Portland takes Brewer a little over an hour each way, she said the job is worth it.
“Maine Med’s an awesome, awesome institution,” she said. “I feel super, super blessed to work there. I’ve never worked in a unit like it,” she said. “The nurses are so knowledgeable. Everybody is like a family there.”
Each PETAL honoree is recognized at a public ceremony on their unit and receives a certificate and cake to share with staff. A banner is hung on the unit with a photo of the honoree.
Brewer said working with children at the hospital is “bittersweet.”
“It’s completely rewarding, it’s completely gratifying, but there are definitely some tough scenarios,” she said. “I think it lets you appreciate what you have and the people around you a little more. It’s a good feeling to be able to help them and their families.”