Micki Free and Jeannie Matsche, RNs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, are the latest to receive DAISY award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is given monthly to nurses who consistently demonstrate excellence through their clinical expertise and extraordinary compassionate care. They are recognized as outstanding role models in the hospital’s nursing community.
Free graduated from Viterbo College in 1995. She joined the MSJH team in 1997; first working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, then the float pool from 2000-2002. She has been with NICU since then. She has three children. Jeannie graduated from North Central Technical College and started working in the NICU 33 years ago. She has since obtained her MSN from St. Xavier’s in Chicago with a focus as a clinical nurse leader and educator. Jeannie has three children and five grandchildren.
Both were nominated by parents of twins, Alida and Lucie, who were born 11 weeks premature. The parents also praised all the NICU nurses for their dedication, caring and communicating.
Here is part of their nomination story:
“Micki and Jeannie have been our girls’ guardian angels, our counselors, our support crew, our interpreters in the medical maze. They have understood us when no one else in our world could quite grasp what we were going through. They loved and cared for our children as though they were their own.”
The mom of the girls met Jeannie about a day after they were born. She was given baby books to track their NICU journey. She praised her for her hugs, her caring and her sincerity. “She always made me feel safe and was accepting of all of my emotions and tears throughout our journey,” the nomination said. “Jeannie's passion is second to none. Alida couldn’t be extubated because her nose was too small to switch to nasal prongs. Jeannie wrote to the company and told them they should start prongs for micro preemies. Turns out they were in the process of making them and now Marshfield is a pilot for the product. Jeannie would call the NICU at 2 a.m. just to check on the girls because she was having a ‘feeling.’ She was not afraid to tell the doctors what the girls needed. This fosters trust and respect with the physicians, her peers, and the families of the babies. Jeannie has made a difference in our lives beyond the NICU. Jeannie came to Milwaukee for Alida’s heart surgery in November and stayed with us for Thanksgiving. The list is endless in the ways Jeannie is passionate about her job, her patients, her family, and friends.”
The parents met Micki a couple of weeks after the births. “Alida was having a hard time dealing with the area of the NICU she was located in. As a cardiac baby she was very sensitive to noise and light. The first night we met Micki we asked if Alida could be moved to a quieter area. The next morning the girls were in a nice quiet back corner. Ever since then, we always knew Micki would go to bat for us and the girls,” the parents stated.
Micki turned out to be more than a nurse to the mom, she was a friend. “Micki listens, understands and cares. Despite my gratitude for everything we have gone through and my optimism 90 percent of the time, I still have times when I am frustrated, emotional, angry, and scared. I know I can go to Micki during those times and vent. She lets me be me and doesn’t judge me for those feelings. She wouldn’t care if I called her at work or in the middle of the night,” the mom stated.
Both nurses traveled to Milwaukee the day of Alida’s pacemaker surgery on December 4. They watched Lucie most of the day so the parents could have a break and focus on Alida. They ordered pizza for the parents and stayed with them until the baby’s surgery was done and she was back in her room, which was about 9 p.m. They drove home after that.
“It is those types of selfless, caring acts that make them both so deserving of the daisy award,” the parents said. “They exemplify all of the qualities and attributes the award signifies. We are so fortunate to have these two amazing nurses in our lives. These are not just nurses; they are heroes to us and dozens of babies and families every day.”