“Moving to the NICU was the best thing I’ve ever done”



Christina Brown nurse Daisy Award

DAISY winner Christina Brown is present for parents and babies in the best and worst of times.

By Maureen Gilmer, Riley Children’s Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Christina Brown traveled a roundabout way to arrive at her dream job, but the veteran nurse couldn’t be more satisfied with her current role as a certified nurse in the Simon Family Tower NICU at Riley Hospital for Children.

A nurse for IU Health since 2005, and before that a medical assistant and PCA for several years, Brown’s goal from a young age was to work in the NICU, but fear got the better of her as a nursing student.

“That’s scary to have that much responsibility,” she said about the medically complex newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit.

So, she started out on the infant unit, which no longer exists, before moving to employee health, then dialysis, and finally, the NICU about four years ago, working nights.

“Moving to the NICU was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been happier.”

It might have taken her several years, but she said she knows she is where she is supposed to be. And her previous nursing experience helped prepare her.

“I learned a lot, and I feel like I’m a better nurse because of it.”

Christina Brown nurse Daisy Award

She not only vanquished her fear, but she has excelled in her new role, earning a DAISY award recently for going above and beyond for a family reeling from their newborn’s devastating diagnosis.

Fellow NICU nurse Chelsea Hinnegan nominated Brown for the DAISY after seeing how she cared for the family, whose child would not survive.

“Chris Brown went above and beyond her scope and showed a family and a patient the care, love and compassion they needed during a devastating time,” Hinnegan said, adding that Brown “sat at the bedside during her shifts for hours at a time with the parents, just talking and giving them a hand to hold and an ear to listen.”

When Brown asked the baby’s parents what kinds of memories they’d like to create with their child in those final hours, they asked if they could give their little one a bath.

Christina Brown nurse Daisy Award

Of course, the answer was yes. Brown rolled in the unit’s turtle tub and supplies and stood by while the parents lovingly bathed their child.

“It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Brown said. “You take for granted giving a baby a bath, but they hadn’t been able to do that yet. Often, they don’t get the opportunity.”

Brown remembers the baby giving her parents a few smiles as they talked and sang to her. Meanwhile, Brown took pictures with each parent’s phone.

“They basically forgot I was there. It was almost like they were home,” she said.

It is in moments like that when Brown knows she is in the right place. But still, she says, the DAISY award shocked her.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything anybody else wouldn’t have done in the same situation,” she said. “But it’s nice to know that people see that. And it’s good to think that hopefully it meant something to the parents.”

Hinnegan, who has worked with Brown for three years, is sure it meant the world.

“Chris took on more roles than just the role of bedside nurse for this family. She made a difference in their experience with the worst possible outcome for their child.”

Hinnegan said her colleague exhibits IU Health’s core values of excellence, compassion, team and purpose. She is impressed with Brown’s willingness to always a lend a hand or stop what she’s doing to help explain the “why” behind an action, policy or protocol.

“When I grow up, I want to be just like Chris,” Hinnegan said.

Christina Brown nurse Daisy Award

Brown, who sports a tattoo of Florence Nightingale, known as the mother of modern nursing, on her upper arm, is still striving for more knowledge in her profession. She is back in school for a master’s in nursing education, eager to help train the next generation of nurses.

Outside of the hospital, she enjoys traveling with her husband, Robert, and hanging out with her adult stepdaughters and grandchildren.

Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org