Caring for children and their families, too

Leona Hernandez and her baby

Leona Hernandez, R.N., the first-ever recipient of the Masonic Mission Award, earned this recognition during her time as a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

Hernandez’s most rewarding days as a PICU nurse were when she could bring comfort to children and their families alike and focus on their overall wellbeing.

“Sometimes this meant easing a child’s physical pain and helping them to regain health, other days this meant helping children and their families better understand all that was happening and know that their voices were genuinely heard,” she says.

Hernandez, who has always wanted to work with children, recently took a new step in her career. She is now an R.N. care coordinator for the pediatric pulmonary department at a University of Minnesota Physicians clinic. In this role, she loves seeing her patients get better and helping them remain healthy at home.

The icing on the cake? Many of the kids she now sees at the specialty clinic are those whom she cared for as a PICU nurse. “I love getting to see the children I cared for in the PICU now coming in for routine appointments with smiles on their faces,” says Hernandez.

Hernandez was nominated for her ability to provide exceptional care to her young patients and their family members, too. Her nominator writes:

“When I lived in the hospital with my daughter, there was one nurse who not only took exceptional care of my daughter, she took exceptional care of me. She was my confidante, fellow mother, and friend. She pulled me up when I fell to ruin…and she brightened my days with her companionship. She was truly my daughter’s and my guardian angel.”