2019 March of Dimes Nurse Awards

Imagine being in a windy, remote Alaska community, and a fisherman was struck in the head by a 600-pound crab pot. You’re tasked with keeping him alive as he is transported by boat and air to the nearest community that can provide emergency care. Imagine a small plane crashes and the passengers need emergency care to save their lives. Imagine providing palliative care to a customer-owner in Anchorage who is miles away from her home community, and she needs support and guidance as she and her family navigate the end-of-life process.

These scenarios are just a few examples of exceptional services that nurses provide every day around Alaska. Nurses who demonstrate a commitment to their jobs and who have consistently gone above and beyond in their service to others were honored at the 2019 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award ceremony Nov. 16, in Anchorage. The annual ceremony highlights the extraordinary level of care, compassion, integrity, professionalism, and leadership nurses provide every day throughout Alaska.

A total of 11 nurses from SCF were finalists in seven different award categories, spanning behavioral health to palliative care. SCF is profoundly grateful to all nurses who serve customer-owners across our statewide operations and would like to congratulate Thor Brendtro, registered nurse case manager, who won an award in the category of Public Health and Ambulatory Care for his work in providing high quality care to customer-owners living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

“I feel grateful to be working in this field because I feel like the work is extremely meaningful. I have the privilege of touching the lives of a lot of people and encouraging their health and well-being,” said Brendtro, who emphasized that partnership is an essential component to his work. “We all work together to show our humanity and kindness and create a supportive environment that encourages customer-owners living with HIV to seek regular care and support. It’s essential to recognize that HIV care in Alaska is a community effort that includes the Department of Corrections, Public Health Service, Caring Clinic at the Brother Francis Shelter, Alaska AIDS Assistance Association, and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.”

Brendtro is especially thankful to his colleagues at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Early Intervention Services, with whom he often collaborates with when providing care and support to customer-owners. “There is no way I could do it all without their partnership, help, and support.” He was supported at the event by his wife, parents, and many colleagues from SCF, including Vice President of Medical Services Division Dr. Douglas Eby and Nurse Director Brenda Porter.

Porter, along with the support of Dr. Matt Hirschfeld, medical director of Maternal Child Health Services at the Alaska Native Medical Center, spearheaded the push to bring the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award ceremony to Alaska. Porter shared, “it is a true community effort in collaboration with March of Dimes headquarters. Many organizations, including Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Alaska Nurses Association, University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing, Providence, and the State of Alaska Division of Public Health are involved in hosting this annual event.”

SCF employs over 240 nurses across the organization in a variety of roles, from licensed practical nurses and certified nurse midwives to advanced practice nurses, who provide services ranging from primary and emergency care, to labor and delivery. SCF is extremely grateful for all the work nurses do to help communities throughout Alaska. Without their tireless work and dedicated compassion, the challenges that occur throughout life would undoubtedly be much harder to navigate. Please join us as we celebrate the achievements of not just those recognized with these awards, but every nurse everywhere.

by David Clark

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