Congratulations to Kelly Powell, clinical case manager in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for being named the 2019 recipient of the Debra Lee Seiber Nursing Excellence Award. The award, named for Debra Seiber a longtime nurse practitioner in our NICU at Summa who died in 2013, is presented annually to a nurse who demonstrates clinical excellence, teamwork and collaboration, community awareness and a commitment to continued education and family-centered care.
A 13-year veteran of Akron Children’s, Kelly says having scoliosis as a teen helped set her on the career path to becoming a nurse.
“When I was 14 years old I had corrective surgery over winter break,” she said. “I will never forget how special the hospital made Christmas for me. I thought I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon, but it was the care of the nurses that changed my plans.”
Kelly says caring for newborns and children when they are sick and fragile is a very special responsibility that she is honored to do.
“I work closely with families to help them navigate their NICU stay and transition to home with their baby,” she said. “Case managers round daily with the NICU team helping parents understand the plan of care. We become closely involved with families when they are preparing to take their babies home. This includes teaching, comprehensive discharge planning, preparing discharge instructions, ordering medical supplies and nurse visits, scheduling follow-up care and working with the family’s insurance.”
One of the aspects Kelly says she loves most about her job is the close relationships she develops with the NICU families.
“I am inspired by all they have to learn and do to care for their baby. And, that they can do it,” she said. “Essentially, they are learning to become a nurse, respiratory therapist, provider and an advocate. I have worked with moms who have limited education and resources and it is inspiring to see them learn this complex care. I enjoy keeping in touch with the families and babies and seeing them grow and thrive over the years.”
Kelly admits while there are also parts of her job that are challenging – like coordinating end of life care for babies whose outcomes aren’t favorable – she chooses to embrace the good.
“Attending the Walk for Babies is one of my favorite days because it is rewarding and inspiring to see NICU graduate families coming to walk and raise money to help future NICU babies and families,” she said.
Although Kelly did not know Deb Seiber personally, she says having Deb’s family present at her award ceremony made the moment extra special.
“I was a bit overwhelmed by all who came to support me on this very special and meaningful day,” she said. “In addition to the Seibers, my parents, husband, children and mother-in-law (who is an Akron Children’s employee) were also in attendance and my NICU family showed up in full force. It certainly made me feel loved and that the work I do, and what I give of myself day in and day out, matters and makes a difference.
“I could not do what I do without being surrounded by a strong team,” she added. “Specifically Lisa Heenan (now retired), Angela Molnar, Jessie Brent, Lori Powers and Deanne Johnston. My nominators, Christen Fenton and Amber Miller, are colleagues that I admire so the fact they thought me worthy of this award is an honor.”