If a sunshine could have a name, it would be Barb.
From her infectious enthusiasm to her personal touch on delivery day, Barbara Faber Peterson (better known as “Barb”) has been bringing smiles to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies for 44 years. Barb works as a transport nurse, helping to move the most critically ill infants between Florida hospitals and our Level IV NICU for the highest-level of care available. Her greatest joy is to celebrate a baby’s first day, helping to make it one of the best days of a parent’s life.
Barb has been able to witness the miracle of countless babies thriving, that without our help, would not have survived. When asked about why she has continued in the field for so long, she references the meaningful way her ability as a nurse can impact a family’s life forever.
Barb has seen many historic changes at Orlando Health over the years. She started in 1977 working for what was then known as Orange Memorial Hospital and has watched the NICU grow and move from Orlando Regional Medical Center to a home at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women when it was first constructed. Then, in 2006, the babies (and Barb) moved into Orlando Health Winnie Palmer, which has continued to expand it’s NICU, now occupying two floors within the downtown facility.
In her 44 years as a nurse, she has watched technology and medicine change the way we care for babies. Barb listed four major developments - extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), Surfactin, steroids, and oscilating ventilators - that have occurred over the course of her career. Each greatly impacting outcomes for babies, but stating that ECMO (similar to a heart lung bypass machine) has been the biggest game changer. Barb reflected on her career, feeling the hardest part now is knowing how many babies this technology could have saved if available earlier in her career.
This kind of hard-earned compassion is part of what has made her such a great nurse, according to her colleagues.
Many people wonder what allows someone to sustain such an emotionally demanding career for so many decades. Barb spoke about how each nurse will have his/her heart broken by a patient dying, but this experience will then help him/her to learn how to better guard their heart with healthy work/life boundaries. She also shared her post-work routine: great music for the drive home in her black 1999 corvette, followed by a nice walk with her dogs.
When asked about her career, Barb talks about the many people she’s connected with along the way. She has been fortunate to share her career with many physicians and nurses for over 30 years. This longevity creates a work family she will truly miss in retirement. Barb also mentioned the mentors who believed in her and gave her a chance as a young nurse, telling them, “Someday I want to be like you.” And now, at the close of her nursing career, she is receiving the same comment from young nurses.
Barb spoke about Orlando Health in glowing terms. In her 44 years, she feels love, respect and honor for nursing as the overarching themes. With retirement approaching in early 2022, Barb is looking forward to more time with her grandchildren and being able to travel more often with her boyfriend. In closing, Barb said, “It was a great ride. I wouldn’t do anything different.
Written by: Rev. Jennifer Prechter, MATS, BCC