Jacquie Dunne is a co-facilitating nurse in the NICU at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) who consistently volunteers to provide extra care to the most frail of our littlest patients who also have significant developmental vulnerabilities above their medically complex needs.

Everyone who works with Jacquie recognizes how exceptional she is including Dr. Navneet Sharma, MSH Neonatologist, “Jacquie is a very passionate worker in our NICU, her skills are outstanding in what she does- she goes far beyond her nursing duties for the patient as well as the family. She has the ability to foresee and anticipate situations and implement an effective care plan accordingly. In addition to her excellent clinical skills, she is also a great co-worker. Jacquie brings her maternal skills, empathy and compassion to work every day, which makes her stand out in her profession.”

It’s the developmental care that these babies need – the cuddling, soothing, singing, nurturing and talking to them that she continually provides. And this is why Jacquie is a hero to me, her colleagues, the babies in the NICU, and to all the families she supports. This care helps babies develop a secure attachment with her which they need during the critical window of time in the first few weeks of their lives. These babies get to know Jacquie so well that they would eat for her and gain weight when she was on shift. She is so compassionate, professional, empathic and non-judgemental and they would respond to her consistent caregiving.

In addition to her excellent clinical skills, she is also a great co-worker. Jacquie brings her maternal skills, empathy and compassion to work every day, which makes her stand out in her profession.

Jacquie is often giving extra tender, loving, care over and above her daily nursing duties and the stories below stand out with babies who were medically fragile and admitted to the NICU for extended lengths of stay of weeks and sometimes months.

  1. Jacquie was often scheduled to provide care for a baby girl diagnosed with Down Syndrome who had three young siblings at home that mom also had to care for, so this little girl was often alone in the NICU. Jacquie would go above and beyond for this little one. She would give lots of extra cuddles, talks and sing to baby when her mom wasn’t able to be at the hospital. Jacquie was also a wonderful recruit for other staff to take cuddle turns when she was working with other babies. It was common for Jacquie to get staff on their lunch break or one of our volunteer cuddlers to support this little one. The mom is so grateful for the care Jacquie gave her baby. “She’s an amazing nurse, she thought beyond the medical needs of my baby. Without her, we would still be in the NICU trying to figure things out,” says Amy Ho. “She really got to know my baby and gave me tips to help with her development. She became like a member of our family.”
  2. There was another baby who also had many exceptional diagnoses and week after week Jacquie would take extra care of this little girl. Mom was not able to be present all the time as she had other children as well. Jacquie was at the bedside comforting, soothing, and cuddling this girl when mom couldn’t be there. Jacquie went beyond the nursing duties to help the baby meet her attachment needs and provided the developmental stimulation that was so critical during this time. According to mom, Tara Smith, “Jacquie took such good care of my infant daughter during her five-week stay in the NICU. Not only was Jacquie a skilled and attentive nurse to my daughter, but she was a source of support and light for me as well during those long and difficult weeks during my daughter’s recovery. I am so grateful for all Jacquie did to assist our family with her compassionate care. I will never forget her kindness!”
  3. Jacquie also cared for a baby boy who was in Children’s Aid Society care and the foster family was not able to be in the hospital very often. She made sure that he was cared for, cuddled, stimulated developmentally and nurtured. She organized the volunteers in the ‘cuddler program’ so that he would have hugs, songs, and cuddles on a regular basis. When she was done providing care for the other babies on the unit, she would be found at bedside with him making sure he had a calm soothing voice to hear.

The common denominator is that Jacquie volunteers for the most medically and developmentally vulnerable babies in our NICU. She is so consistently positive, happy, smiling and sincerely engaged to meet the medical, physical, emotional and developmental needs of these little people and their parents. She is also a professional team player who engages the skills of the allied health team to its fullest potential to support each baby. Jacquie is delightful to work with and all parents that have had her caring for their baby would give her a standing ovation.

Jacquie was recognized for her extra special care with an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Hospital News Nursing Heroes awards.