Staff Spotlight: Sherry Lynn Doyle
Staff Spotlight-Sherry Doyle, Advanced Clinician
“With this form of medical care, it’s difficult to carry each patient home in your mind— but every now and then there’s a patient who crosses your path and leaves an impact—it’s a bond that develops, an instant trust, that goes much deeper than providing excellent medical care.”
Sherry Doyle witnesses patient triumphs each day as an RN, Advanced Clinician in the Reconstructive unit of Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston. For the past sixteen years, Sherry’s day-to-day schedule varies from the duties of charge nurse (overseeing the staff and patients on the unit), to caring for hygiene, nutrition, dressing changes, medication administration, future surgical planning and education of patients in the unit.
“During my career as a Shriners nurse, there have been many times I’ve felt proud of the work I’ve done with my patients,” says Sherry. “A deep, meaningful pride knowing I had made a difference in a life—as was the case with Matthew*.”
Many years ago, Matthew was admitted to Shriners-Boston after suffering an extensive scald to the lower portion of his body from a pot of hot water. Sherry had taken care of Matthew since his relocation to the Reconstructive unit following his previous surgery-- excision and grafting of bilateral, lower extremities and lower abdomen.
A good-natured, sixteen year old with a large build, Matthew towered at almost six-feet tall and weighed in at close to two-hundred pounds— requiring extensive dressings and staples to care for his wounds. In order to be discharged and return home to his family, Matthew needed his dressings and staples removed.
The liquid medication applied to burn wounds can sometimes dry out at the bottom layer of the dressing, the layer which touches the skin. This can cause the dressing to stick to skin grafts and can be painful to remove—even after soaking the layers in sterile water to loosen them.
Sherry, who was working on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, was with Matthew that day in the unit and spoke with Matthew’s surgeon, explained that the family would like to take him home for Christmas, and received the okay to remove his dressings at the bedside and, if all was well, discharge him home.
Sherry got sterile water, soaked the dressings and began at a very slow pace. Every layer removed brought on a new onset of tears, discomfort and anxiety for Matthew. Sherry asked many times if he wanted her to stop, but he insisted she go on. As his mother held his hand, she continued.
"He wanted to cry out each time I squeezed the staple remover, but he didn’t want to upset his mother, so he was quiet with an occasional grimace as the tears slid down his round, pink cheeks.”
Sherry removed every last one. That’s when Matthew finally cried with relief. Sherry asked Matthew’s mom for help cleaning him up, and then redressed the perfect grafts with a dry, sterile, dressing-- lifting each heavy leg and resting his foot on her shoulder as she wrapped. His father and three brothers arrived just as they finished. After two grueling months, Matthew was able to go home and spend Christmas with his family—the best present any nurse can give.
Thankfully now several years later, advances in pain and comfort management, many of which have been pioneered at Shriners Hospitals, make experiences such as this one memories of the past. However, the spirit of a dedicated nurse doing whatever it takes to heal a child and family in his/her care has never changed at Shriners – Boston.
*Note: All names, with the exception of Shriners-Boston staff members, have been changed