Bertha Higbee Named 2015 HGH "Nightingale Nurse of the Year"

A Humboldt County nurse, who co-workers say inspires others with her positive attitude, has been named the 2015 Humboldt General Hospital “Nightingale Nurse of the Year.”

Bertha Higbee, RN, received the news at a special luncheon on Thursday, May 7. She was one of five nurses nominated for the honor, including Darlene Bryan, Ashley Sage, Lorene Rushin-Hall and Monica Sartor.

Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician who came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War where she tended to wounded soldiers. Nightingale was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night.

Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment, in 1860, of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honor, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.

Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Bryan said the HGH “Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award” was created to recognize nurses who, like Nightingale, go above and beyond in their duties, who go out of their way to provide exceptional care, who elevate themselves and their profession through education and knowledge, and who can innovate by coming up with new and better ideas.

“In short, we are looking for nurses who inspire, elevate, innovate and energize,” she said. “We are looking for our own ‘Lady with the Lamp” at Humboldt General Hospital—someone who truly illuminates the art of nursing.”

Higbee’s nominators certainly felt she fit the description.

“Bertha inspires people to do their best by doing her best day in and day out and inspiring people with her positive attitude,” said one nominator. “She is always willing to help out wherever she is needed and has never complained about it.”

Another said, “She is always upbeat and positive when she comes to work. She is a team player and tries very hard to surround herself with positive comments and people at work.”

Nominators also painted a picture of a fun, outgoing person.

“She always elevates others around her with her contagious smile and outgoing and fun personality; there is never a bad moment while working with Bertha.”

The nominator further focused on Higbee’s exceptional patient care—and how her example challenges others to follow.

“She goes out of her way with her patients to make their experience at Humboldt General Hospital a caring and compassionate one,” read the nomination. “She elevates the care she provides to her patients in such a manner that other peers can strive for that same quality as well.”

Another nominator noted, “Her attitude and caring are a great example that everyone should emulate and strive for.”

One nominator also chronicled Higbee’s progress from a Certified Nursing Assistant in OB, and a nursing student at Great Basin College, to a well-rounded ICU and Medical/Surgical nurse, and now a relief house supervisor.

“She always wants to learn, and grow. She always finds ways to challenge herself and those around her. She remains positive and compassionate with her patients and peers. She is the epitome of HGH and their motto because ‘She Believes.’”

Higbee said she was deeply touched by the honor to represent Humboldt General Hospital as this year’s Nightingale nurse.

“It’s an honor to work here,” Higbee told the group of luncheon-goers on Thursday. “I’ve learned a lot from everyone. I love working in a small, rural hospital; it’s just a pleasure working here.”

HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish said the Nightingale award is a landmark event in a nurse’s life, and also a fitting tribute to HGH’s nurses.

“I think our nursing staff does a tremendous job for our hospital and our community,” he told the group of assembled nurses.

Chief Nursing Officer Bryan agreed, noting that HGH’s nurses are very special people.

“It’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moment,” she said. “It’s a privilege to work with all these nurses.”

Higbee was presented with a plaque and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She also received a $3,000 stipend to participate in the educational opportunity of her choice.

This is the fifth year for the HGH Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award. Past recipients include Diane Nevis, LPN; Pam Ruark, RN; Robyn Dunckhorst RN; and, Michelle Chadwell, RN.

A new wall display was recently added to the HGH lobby area explaining the award and honoring past and present recipients.