Clinical Nurse, Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Shapiro 6W
Nominated by Karen Morth, MSN, RN, CCRN-CSC, clinical nurse educator, Cardiac Surgery ICU; Linda Forte, BSN, RN; Alison Rodman, BSN, RN; Theresa Seeley, BSN, RN; and Mary Lou Cullen, ADN, RN, clinical nurse colleagues in the Cardiac Surgery ICU; with letters of support from Maria Bentain-Melanson, MSN, RN, CCRN-CS, nurse director, Cardiac Surgery ICU and Stepdown, Shapiro 6 and 7; and Kathy Hennessey, the wife of a patient
Susan Gabriel, BSN, RN, CCRN, is known among her colleagues for her ability to care for the most complex patients, her strong advocacy for patients and families, her dedication to teaching new nurses and for her big heart.
Gabriel makes every effort to get to know her patients as individuals and strives to include the patient’s loved ones as champions in the recovery process. She replicated a “Getting to Know Me” poster developed at Massachusetts General Hospital and tailored it to fit the needs of ICU patients. Family members can add photos and information about the patient – what they want to be called, their hobbies and other details.
“The staff loved this idea,” wrote Nurse Director Maria Bentain-Melanson, MSN, RN, CCRN-CS. “The patient was no longer a patient, but a person with a name and interests. “
In her narrative, Gabriel reflects on a heart transplant patient who was in the ICU for several months. Gabriel, the patient and her spouse, would develop daily checklists to help achieve short and long-term goals.
When the patient was cleared for pureed foods, she lost her appetite upon seeing a tray with mushed carrots and burger. Gabriel contacted the dietitian and got permission to have the patient’s favorite meal – chicken pot pie – brought in from home and pureed in a blender.
“What got us through many dark days of uncertainty was the care, compassion and passion that Susan demonstrated each and every day,” wrote Kathy, the patient’s wife.
Gabriel’s nominators also noted how generous she is with her time and knowledge. Whether it’s her patients, her students or the local and international organizations she supports, Gabriel puts others’ needs first. Every year, she volunteers for a mission trip to Rwanda with Team Heart, caring for patients undergoing heart surgery. She facilitates support meetings for families coping with opioid addiction at Learn to Cope and also volunteers at Place of Promise, a residential program for individuals dealing with substance abuse and other challenges.
With her 30-plus years of clinical expertise in caring for a diverse population of patients and her devotion to helping patients, their families and the care team navigate social issues and ethical dilemmas, Gabriel’s colleagues look to her as a leader.
“Sue is an incredibly talented and humble clinician and change agent, preserving and extending excellent nursing practice by her everyday actions inside and outside the patient’s bedside,” said Bentain-Melanson. “Her patients, their families and her colleagues are the true beneficiaries of Sue’s many talents as an expert clinician and compassionate human being.”
Gabriel began her nursing career in 1980 as a clinical nurse at BWH and has worked in the Cardiac Surgery ICU since 2000. She holds a BSN from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and is currently enrolled in an MSN in Nursing Education program at Southern New Hampshire University.