After 43 years in nursing, Nicki Magee spends the Thanksgiving weekend caring for the sickest of our community's children. She eats leftovers from a turkey dinner her family celebrated on Wednesday evening.
Clinicians throughout the hospital can relate. “We never close,” says Magee, unable to pinpoint the number of holidays she has observed early with her family so she can care for others. But this shift is different. This calming presence in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is retiring — officially hanging up the starched white cap she tucked away in a closet in the early 1980s.
“In 1977, nurses mixed their own IV medications and counted the drops per minute that flowed into their patients. There were no medication pumps,” she recalls. “We journaled health records on paper charts for children that shared rooms.”
But while technological changes have dynamically advanced the science of health care, personal connections between nurses and patient families continue to define great care.
“Nicki’s cheerful demeanor, can-do attitude and absolute love for children has been infectious in our organization,” says Kristen Celona-Jahn, R.N., M.S.N., NE-BC, clinical manager of the PICU.
In a breakroom that otherwise would be a cornucopia of shared dishes prepared by coworkers and grateful parents before COVID-19, “wise Nicki” reheats her dinner. The moniker is what Anthony Sochet, M.D., M.S., a critical care physician on the unit, calls her. Fellow nurses once devoted a portion of the weekly huddle board to Magee with her laminated picture. The “Nicki Says” section hosted weekly reminders for staff.
“This PICU does such incredible work. I’m really going to miss them,” Magee says.
With a retirement cruise on hold due to travel restrictions, Magee is getting ready to tackle organizing boxes of family photos. Some of them next to that starched white cap shelved decades ago.