Nurses see countless patients over the course of their careers, but unlike many jobs that involves working with people, the connection that nurses make with clients often results in lasting memories. For Sue Berger, former registered nurse and current vice president of Cazenovia College near Syracuse, New York, one of her former patients stood out.
As a three-month-old infant, Amanda Scarpinati fell seriously ill in 1977. A respiratory infection, possibly pneumonia, plagued Scarpinati as an infant and her parents used a hot steam humidifier to help treat the infection. During treatments, Scarpinati unexpectedly rolled off the couch and onto the humidifier, seriously burning herself. She endured 3rd degree burns to her arms and legs, enduring years of surgery to correct the damage.
Sue Berger was a part of the rotation of nurses treating Scarpinati. She remembered the baby who came in with serious burns, but amazingly never cried.
“I was actually very taken by her,” said Berger reminiscing. Berger also left quite the impression on Scarpinati, it seems. She remembered Berger years later, unable to forget her exceptional kindness. A photo was taken of the two of them together, which was featured on the cover of the Albany Medical Center’s annual report. Many years later, Scarpinati still had a copy of the photograph and decided to make an attempt to reach out to Berger though all these years later all she had was the picture and no name or any other information that would help her identify her former nurse.
When she contacted Albany Medical Center, where the two originally me years earlier, nobody there was not able to recognize who the nurse was 38 years after the fact. Scarpinati, unphased, turned to social media. She posted the picture online hoping that someone might recognize the mysterious nurse. Within 24 hours, Angela Leary, a former coworker of Berger’s, recognized her on the cover and was able to put Scarpinati into contact with Berger.
Last Tuesday, the two met for the first time at Albany Medical Center in front of a crowd of supporters and reporters. Berger commented on how beautiful Scarpinati had become, and Scarpinati thanked her for helping to make her that way. Scarpinati never forgot the kindness Berger had shown her. Nurses everywhere should see Berger and Scarpinati’s story as an example of the impact they can have on their patients.