South Nurse Recognized for Service
Posted on April 1, 2016 by Casandra Andrews
Hours before dawn on a Friday morning, Margie Friedman quietly pulled on her nurse’s scrubs and drove to her job for a special assignment at 3 a.m. The mother of four boys works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, where an average of 80 premature infants receive around-the-clock care in Mobile.
Seven hours into her shift that same morning, at 10:30, she was asked to go to the hospital’s main lobby. What happened next still brings a smile to her face. A large gathering of her family and friends – at least 50 people – crowded into a corner of the lobby to share a surprise: Friedman had been selected by McDonald’s as one of 24 national heroes who work non-traditional schedules.
As the crowd clapped and cheered, one of Friedman’s sons gave her an enormous bouquet of yellow and orange roses. She also received a $500 gift certificate to the Battle House Spa and breakfast for 70 co-workers. The national winners, representing 20 different cities, also included police officers, teachers, tradespeople and businesspeople who put in long days and still find time to serve their communities in other ways.
Friedman was chosen, in part, for helping lead efforts to raise $750,000 for improvements to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which allowed for a complete renovation of the space that can accommodate more than 100 babies.
“I am so grateful to work in such a wonderful unit with the most amazing people,” Friedman said. “I can't tell you how much it meant to me to walk into a room to be surprised by friends and family. It was a day I'll never forget.”
When Friedman came to work at Children’s & Women’s in 2008, the NICU was beginning to show its age, with worn floors and dated colors on the walls. “We wanted to make it pretty here,” Friedman said, nodding to the walls which are now painted a calming shade of blue called “swimming.” In addition to their beauty, the NICU’s new floors are antimicrobial.
To accomplish their goal, Friedman and some of her colleagues held bake sales and sold T-shirts, even hosting golf and kickball tournaments to raise money for the unit where tiny babies grow and thrive. Several philanthropists also made contributions to the fundraising effort, which spanned about two years.
Friedman said she never considered a career in nursing until her firstborn son, Jack, spent three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital. Born at 37 weeks, the infant suffered from severe jaundice. “It was terrifying,” she said, recalling the experience. “We spent a lot of time in the NICU and I thought ‘I would really like to do this.’”
Six years passed before Friedman went back to school to pursue a degree in nursing. During that time, her family grew to two sons and her husband graduated from law school. She eventually enrolled at the University of South Alabama. Through an accelerated program, she earned an undergraduate and master’s degree in nursing. In 2008, she took a job at Children’s & Women’s that brought her back to the spot where her firstborn received care.
Renee Rogers, who leads the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, said Friedman is a devoted member of the nursing team who she can trust to pitch in at any hour – like coming in at 3 a.m. to care for some of the region’s most frail infants.
“She's one of those nurses who can work in any department,” Rogers said. “She makes a difference here at Children's & Women's Hospital.”
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