Avery Award of Excellence in Nursing

Geraldine (Gerry) Ghiz

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital

Nashville, Tennessee

Nominated by Chloa Turpin

There are no words that could ever convey how fortunate we are to have met Geraldine (Gerry) Ghiz. My husband and I were alone with our son in a state without any friends or family near. We practically lived in the hospital for six months, four of which were spent in the NICU. During this time, we met Gerry and not only was our NICU experience greatly impacted, but our lives were enriched.

We felt very alone being so far away from everyone that we know. We were at our weakest when we met Gerry. She quickly became a part of our family. No one had shown us as much empathy as Gerry did. When we couldn’t be at the hospital and it was during her shift, we always knew that our son was being well cared for. We could sleep easier knowing he was with someone who loved him. We would call throughout the night to check in and she would reassured us that things were going well. When our sweet little man couldn’t sleep, she would take him out to the nurse’s station with her while she worked. He was always being held and comforted.

Gerry has a way about her that puts you at ease. She is always positive and hopeful. When we felt like things were out of control and we were at a loss to “fix” things for our son, she reminded us that we were good, capable parents. When we ran out of courage, she reminded us that we were our son’s advocates and to speak our minds if we felt it necessary. She would tell us that our son is lucky to have us. In a situation in which you have no control and all you want to do is make your child’s life easier, sometimes you need to be reminded that you are doing everything you can. She did this for us.

Gerry taught us everything we needed to know for our son’s complex care, as we were going to be leaving the hospital with IV nutrition and an ostomy. She was always patient with us. We weren’t very confident in our abilities at first, but she was. The world of ostomies and central lines was completely foreign to us. She helped to make us feel at ease and we became increasingly confident in our abilities to care for our son.

After our son left the NICU and was transferred to the GI floor, Gerry continued to check up on us. She wasn’t only concerned with how he was doing, but she also wanted to make sure that we were taking care of ourselves. It is easy to neglect your own well-being when you become so focused on caring for someone you love. Gerry would encourage us to care for ourselves and remind us that our mental state and well-being also impact our son.

We have moved out of state, but Gerry still keeps in touch. She is our son’s “Tennessee Grandma.” She loves him as if he were her own grandchild. No one has made a larger impact on our life than she has. Luck was in our favor when she signed up to be our son’s primary nurse. Gerry is not only a good nurse, she is also an excellent friend with a very kind, loving heart..