Losing any loved one is a cause of grief, but the loss and grief seem more acute for parents who lose children in their first few days of life. A nurse who goes beyond her call of duty to comfort parents has been named Catholic Health Australia's Nurse of the Year.
At last night's CHA Awards Dinner, CEO Martin Laverty recognised midwife Kerry Brenzi with the national award. Kerry has worked at St John of God Hospital Murdoch since 1995.

"In her own time and on her own initiative, Kerry began creating 'memory boxes' for parents to take home with them following the passing of their infant children," Mr Laverty explained.

"The box contains mementos of the baby, including cards for foot and handprints, a cot card, a satchel for a lock of the child's hair, an outfit to dress the baby in and also words of support and encouragement. If applicable, she will often include a teddy bear that can be given to a sibling."

Kerry has developed boxes that are specific to babies of different gender and different ages. She accepts no payment for her creations, and even offers the boxes to other Murdoch staff who find themselves assisting parents who have lost children.

"Parents are often going through so many emotions at the time of a child's death. Having someone like Kerry, who handles the baby with dignity and confidence, walking with them, it seems to allow the parents to grieve appropriately and develop a relationship with their child," Mr Laverty said.

"Kerry helps parents to bathe and dress their baby, encourages them to hold the child and offers to take photographs for them. She has blue and pink sets of clothes in her locker at the hospital to dress the child. Obviously parents aren't prepared for this traumatic event, so having someone like Kerry who's able to step in and play such an important role is a great comfort to them."

The CHA Nurse of the Year award honours an outstanding nurse working in Catholic Health and Aged Care services. It recognises the commitment of a nurse to serving patients with respect and dignity whilst acknowledging their individuality.

It includes a $5,000 grant from Hesta to put towards professional development.

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