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Nurse Managers Honored for Supporting Colleagues with Military Duties

January 04, 2012
Lebanon, NH

Nettie Olson

NHESGR ombudsman John Neylon presents Patriot Award to Jannette 'Nettie' Olson, center, for her support of pediatric patient-care technician Amanda Bailey during Bailey's 6 months in Iraq with the NH Air National Guard.

Two nurse managers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) recently received Patriot Awards from the National Guard and Reserve for their support of employees juggling military-service obligations with their patient-care responsibilities.

The New Hampshire Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NHESGR) conferred the awards on Patricia Graffum, RN, of the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), and on Jannette "Nettie" Olson, RN, of the pediatric clinics at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD).

Amanda Bailey, a patient-care technician in pediatrics, nominated Olson for the award for encouraging her colleagues to stay in touch, and advocating to hold a position open for her, during Bailey's six-month deployment to Iraq as a senior airman with the New Hampshire Air National Guard.

"This is the first step of saying, 'Thank you for supporting me while I was gone,'" says Bailey, a New Hampshire native who has worked with Olson for 6½ years. "The unit sent CARE packages to me with pictures of everybody, and things like lip gloss and lotion. And I knew I had a great job to come back to. They're really good to me here."

Heidi Williams, a licensed nurse assistant, nominated Graffum for rallying members of the PACU team around Williams and her young son and daughter during the year that her husband, MEDEVAC pilot John Williams, ferried wounded military personnel in Iraq to medical treatment for the Vermont Air National Guard. Williams learned about the program during preparations for the return of her husband's air-ambulance company late in the summer of 2011.

"They said, 'If your employer's been good and supportive, there's this program,'" Williams recalls. "We decided to put Trish and the PACU in for it because they made such a difference. All the way through, people here were saying, 'Anything you need, let us know. Please call.' There were times when I would just be heading out to deal with a patient and John would call from somewhere, and someone here would run and get me and switch off with me so we could talk."

Air-ambulance pilot John Williams presents company flag to PACU nurse manager Patricia Graffum, RN, center, for Graffum's support of his wife Heidi Williams, LNA, during his year in Iraq flying wounded personnel for Vermont Air National Guard

Graffum, the wife of a retired Army command sergeant major who served in Iraq during Desert Storm in 1991 and the mother of a Naval Academy graduate, "felt a bond" toward Williams, who with backup from her DHMC colleagues soldiered through the deployment.

"The heroes are people like Heidi who come to work and do their jobs," Graffum says. "She was always on time, trying to put her job first. We just did what we could to support her in that."

In pediatrics, Olson followed the same principle during Bailey's deployment.

"You give your support to your best people," Olson says. "She's so much like my daughter. She's a wonderful part of our team."

In addition to applauding individual supervisors for the Patriot Award ESGR reviews small businesses, large businesses, and public-sector employers for eligibility for additional awards. These include the Pro Patria Award for support of employees through leadership and personnel policies, and the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

"I was in the service during the Vietnam era, and this kind of thing didn't exist in those days," says John Neylon, ombudsman for the New Hampshire Committee of ESGR. "Some of the employers, it really puts the hurt on them, first to lose somebody valuable in the unit, then to have to give them their jobs back. That's something worth recognizing."

If she could, Amanda Bailey would recognize Nettie Olson with a promotion.

"In the Guard, she'd be at least a tech sergeant," Bailey said. "Maybe a master sergeant."

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a national leader in evidence-based and patient-centered health care. The system includes hundreds of physicians, specialists, and other providers who work together at different locations to meet the health care needs of patients in northern New England. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at Dartmouth Medical School and centers of excellence including The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice (TDI).

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