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Nurse honored by patient’s mother for ‘protecting’ baby

NICU nurse honored by family for compassion


Ashley Percifield approaches nursing like this: If the roles were reversed, how would she want to be treated? How would she want her child to be treated? “I would want my nurse to provide the same type of loving environment that I would,” she said. “I try to give 110 percent all the time, because that’s what I would want for my child.”

Ashley has been a nurse at Rapid City Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for just over a year, and she’s already made a huge difference for patients and families – one family in particular. Ashley won Rapid City’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in June after being nominated by the mother of a tiny patient who passed away after months in the NICU. In her nomination, the mother said, “Ashley loved our sweet little girl as her own.”

Since entering the field of nursing, Ashley has had a connection with babies. She worked in a clinic for years, but eventually decided she wanted a new challenge. And a challenge it is. This was Ashley’s first experience losing a child. “This one was hard,” she said. “I still struggle with it. I was with this baby night after night.”

The nomination noted that Ashley spent hours walking and bouncing the child. When the child passed, Ashley cleaned and dressed her and placed her in a cold cot so the family could spend time with her. The mother said she “will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.”

Through it all, Ashley said she’s been amazed by the teamwork and quality of care provided within the NICU. “From the physicians, to the APPs, environmental services, lab, my fellow nurses – the teamwork is absolutely amazing. You’re never alone here,” she said. Ashley was also impressed with how the team handled the loss. The group debriefed to talk about their feelings and made sure caregivers knew how to access counseling services. At the family’s request, the team also attended the funeral as honorary pallbearers.

The most special part of her DAISY Award was being nominated by someone who was going through possibly the most difficult grieving process imaginable. “[The mother] was in the middle of her deepest grief. What an honor for someone to actually recognize you during all of that and be able to say ‘Thank you.’”

In her words, the mother said Ashley “made sure our baby was perfectly protected behind the NICU walls when (the baby) was not with us. I will never be able to express my gratitude for the compassion she expressed each and every day.”

Thank you to all of our caregivers who watch over our tiniest patients with such dedication and compassion. We appreciate all you do for these small but mighty patients and their families.

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