A neonatal nurse at Shore Medical Center received a very big surprise Wednesday, Aug. 29, when she was presented with a national award for her care and commitment to babies born at the hospital and their families. Christine Smith, RNC-BSN, was one of fewer than 20 nurses across the United States – and the only one in New Jersey – selected by specialty pharmaceutical company Chiesi USA to be recognized as part of National Neonatal Nurse’s Day Sept. 15. Hospitals were invited to nominate members of their team who exemplify the profession of neonatal nursing. Established in 2000 by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN), the day offers the opportunity to celebrate the dedication of neonatal nurses.
As hospital officials gathered with Chiesi USA representative Bill Muller in a waiting room on the maternity unit, Smith walked in, unaware of why she had been called to the room. Linda Kenwood, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer for Shore Medical Center, explained that she had been selected to receive the national recognition for her excellence in nursing. Smith was beyond surprised and touched to be recognized for what she calls a lifelong passion.
Bill Muller then explained the recognition. “At Chiesi USA, we appreciate the importance of neonatal nurses to the hospitals, communities, babies and families they serve, and we wanted to do our part to recognize you.”
Brenda Braun, clinical supervisor for Shore’s Pediatric Care Unit and Maternal Child Health, nominated Smith for the award, and said that Smith is 100 percent for Shore’s babies. “Chris takes time to work with every staff RN on the unit to review fetal assessment, care, positioning and resuscitation. She reads and remains as up to date as she can and supports skin-to-skin and kangaroo care. She is caring and compassionate and always there for our sickest babies and to support our nurses who are new to neonatal care. Chris runs our Neonatal Resuscitation Program, and assists staff to be proficient with their skills in attending deliveries. She also spends countless hours emotionally supporting our parents. There are just not enough words to describe her passion."
Smith was humbled to receive such an honor.
“Just being able to help infants to achieve health and wellness and be discharged to their families, and giving those parents the skills and confidence they need when going home, and seeing them go home as a good solid family unit – it’s just such a blessing.”
Smith knew she wanted to be a neonatal nurse in high school, and has worked in the field her entire career. She came to Shore in 1990 to work in its Special Care Nursery and has taught neonatal resuscitation not only to maternity nurses, but also to respiratory therapists. A resident of Seaville, she has five children of her own – one of whom was just accepted to medical school - and enjoys exercise, hiking, kayaking and volunteering to care for infants and children in her church’s nursery. Smith says, “It’s full circle. I never get tired of babies!”
For more information about Shore Medical Center’s Special Care Nursery, visit www.shoremedicalcenter.org/special-care-nursery.