Mothers, Daughters Celebrate National Nurses Week And Mother's Day

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Publication: The East Hampton Press
By Colleen Reynolds   May 8, 2012 4:03 PM
May 11, 2012 3:42 PM

When a Southampton Hospital patient needs that little something extra, the “Hail Mary” text messages start flying.

“You can’t say their names because of HIPPA,” said Eileen Brierley, a registered nurse in the hospital’s post-anaesthetic care unit, referring to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects patient confidentiality. “We just say, ‘Can you please say a Hail Mary for my patient?’ We text each other.”

This method of lighting up one another’s phones with well wishes is one way that Ms. Brierley, 55, enjoys a special bond with her mother, Anne Marie Brierley, 74, a registered nurse in the hospital’s breast center, and her daughter, Kelly Kalman, 25, a certified nursing assistant stationed in a second-floor spot known as North 2. While the elder Ms. Brierley interviews patients prior to biopsies, and the younger Ms. Brierley helps recovery-phase patients, Ms. Kalman helps post-operative patients get back on their feet and, every two hours, turns and repositions those on bed rest, among other duties, all the while eagerly awaiting her chance to be picked from the nursing school wait list and follow in the footsteps of her elders.

Whether by destiny or chance, or a fortuitous blend of both, these three women form a three-generation nursing team—same workplace, same field, same family.

National Nurses Week, an annual time of recognition for nurses the nation over, runs this week, from May 6, National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. And Sunday is Mother’s Day.

In separate phone interviews just prior to the start of these coinciding celebrations, this East Hampton family—as well as several other mother-daughter nurse pairs at Southampton Hospital—spoke of the joys that arise from such family-job ties.

Other pairs include Patricia Mitchell, an OR nurse, and her daughter, Corinne Mitchell-Wilutis, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit; Mary Kerch, an emergency room nurse, and her daughter, Jackie Dolce, an OR nurse; nurse Patricia Cole and her daughter, Shanike Chambers, a nursing assistant; Donna Traina, an obstetrics nurse and her daughter, Kirsten Cisco, a medical receptionist at the Westhampton Primary Care Center; and Betty Hite, a ward clerk in Southampton’s telemetry unit, and her daughter-in-law, Tabitha Herman, an ER registration clerk.

Anne Marie Brierley laid the foundation for her family’s tradition, when, at the “late-bloomer” age of 40, she became a nurse, fulfilling a dream she had since high school, but had put on hold while she got married and had five children. The Springs resident worked about 12 years at Southampton Hospital before retiring at 65. She missed it so much, she said, that she returned six to eight months later, working one day a week, on Fridays. Now, she grabs lunch with her daughter, Eileen, each Friday. At 3 p.m., when Eileen gets off work, and her daughter Kelly comes in to start her evening shift, the two share a mother-daughter kiss.

“I just always liked nursing. It’s something you can take wherever you go once you have the skills,” Anne Marie said. Case in point: One of her other daughters, Jackie, 45, was a certified nursing assistant at Southampton Hospital who still works the occasional shift. Jackie also applies her skills to care for her father and Anne Marie’s husband, James, a diabetic who has had three strokes and requires plenty of home care.

For her part, Eileen Brierley said she did not always listen to her mother, but is thankful, when, at age 22, she took her suggestion to become a nurse. “If I had been an artist, like I wanted to be, I would have been home alone,” she said, “I’m too social to be an artist.”

Now, in turn, she has been trying to encourage her daughter, Ms. Kalman, to follow suit.

Ms. Kalman started off as an English major, with a dream of editing books, until she realized that she wasn’t interested in reading the ancient literature required of her major. Her proclivity for keeping late hours would work well on night shift, she remembered her mother suggesting. Also, since Ms. Kalman has a heart condition that required three open-heart surgeries, as a child she felt at home in the hospital. “She decided to stop going to all these expensive schools to get a career,” one she was familiar with, Eileen Brierley said. “Maybe she also listened to her mother for once.”

Ms. Kalman added, “I put it crassly to my family: If I’m going to be shat upon, I’d rather it be literally than figuratively.”

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