Stephanie Barker was a beloved nurse at BHCHP and each year we memorialize her with this award to nurse(s) who embody her commitment.
Stephanie’s mother, Cher, is an artist who created beautiful solar lanterns in her honor, which we gave to award winners for many years. Now, during our 9th year of honoring our nurses with this important award, we carry on that tradition by presenting a special lantern, symbolizing Stephanie’s light. It is with great pleasure that we present the Stephanie Barker Memorial award to Meghan Nardella and Jennifer Hollands.
The following passages are written by their colleagues: Meghan Nardella, RN has exhibited, since she started working at Barbara McInnis House (BMH) as a Northeastern University Coop Student, a deep commitment for caring for the homeless population that we serve. She continued here at BMH after becoming an RN. Daily, she exhibits a humorous attitude even when facing tough and stressful situations, which always helps with staff and patient morale.
She is always seeking out opportunities to improve her knowledge and skills in the nursing field while being supportive and acting as a mentor to the new nurses who come to work at BMH.
Meghan advocates daily for her patients in a quiet and effective way which in turn develops a strong trust in her by her patients.
Meghan exhibits the qualities that best embodies the characteristics of Steph and her dedication to BMH and BHCHP.
Meg has a steadiness that’s so reassuring. She’s patient, realistic, and she clearly cares for her patients. It’s a pleasure to work with her.
Jennifer Hollands, RN has been an outstanding nurse and advocate for patients experiencing homelessness. Primarily based at our BHCHP clinic at the New England Center and Home for Veterans, she has a passion for serving Veterans experiencing homelessness. Jenn connects with our Veterans in meaningful ways, always seeking to honor and understand their past traumas and experiences. She provides high-quality nursing care to every Veteran she cares for in the clinic. With her background, she is especially cognizant of the hidden wounds of military service that Veterans often carry with them. She meets them where they are and provides a witness to their trauma and loss. As one NECHV staff member described, “Jenn has a kind, caring and funny nature, and even the most distrusting Veterans respond well to Jenn’s gentle approach and easily form trust and rapport with her.”
She meets the Veterans upon their medical intake into the transitional housing and provides a warm welcome and touchpoint as they move forward. She engages with the NECHV Case Managers and staff to ensure comprehensive and integrated care for each patient, which can be incredibly complicated for our Veterans, who often receive fragmented and disjointed care from the VA health system and other providers. She has helped lead our efforts to engage with the long-term residents at NECHV who live in the SRO’s spending time each week reaching out to them, building relationships, and literally meeting them wherever they are.
During the COVID pandemic, Jenn has displayed tremendous flexibility and resilient service amidst a chaotic and ever-shifting environment. NECHV leadership claimed that “Jenn really shined during the COVID-19 pandemic” as “she was present and available to do anything that was needed.” She supported surveillance testing of the Veterans and the staff at NECHV on approximately a weekly basis for the last 1.5 years. She has quite literally swabbed thousands of noses for COVID during this time, as well as helping coordinate and provide hundreds of COVID vaccines and support to contact tracing and isolation. Jenn went the extra mile for our patients to advocate and support them, whether it meant staying late or repeatedly calling the isolation hotel hoping to get through—akin to trying to be caller 99 on a radio show.
And beyond NECHV, she has also been willing to serve at other BHCHP sites and help fill the gaps in testing and vaccination. She was one of the first nurses to be in the COVID tents near Southampton and one of the regular RN providers at Boston Hope. She is willing to step into the gap and meet the needs of our program and our patients. And amidst her work in these different spaces, she has always shown initiative and thoughtfulness in improving the care we provide and how to engage best and support our patients.
Everyone that has worked with Jenn has glowingly positive feedback. One colleague wrote, “I feel so grateful and fortunate to be working alongside Jenn, supporting each other as fellow nurses, and learning from her on a daily basis.” And another colleague from NECHV wrote, “Jenn has been an absolute joy to work with,” and “the Center is incredibly lucky to have Jenn as part of the onsite BHCHP team!”
Overall, Jenn is an outstanding clinician and teammate. Whether it’s drawing labs on an anxious patient, counseling a Veteran amidst the chaos of a relapse, or swabbing one more nose for COVID, she demonstrates a willingness to connect with our patients and do all she can to meet their needs. Therefore, it’s an honor to nominate her for this award.