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Baton Rouge General Honors Outstanding Employees with Pinnacle Award

Baton Rouge, La. – When a woman delivered her baby in a car right outside Baton Rouge General, a technician on duty ran outside and used her own shirt to wrap the tiny infant.

When a young boy was injured in a car accident that claimed his father’s life, his pediatric nurse brought him treats every day and continues to check in on him regularly.

Two years after a patient’s first visit, a nutritional care worker remembered her love of cinnamon rolls and surprised her with a special treat.

And when an elderly woman was hospitalized but had no relatives nearby, a patient care associate lovingly treated the patient like her own mother.

Baton Rouge General employees are known for going above and beyond. But sometimes they make lasting impressions on patients and visitors at the hospital. Baton Rouge General honored seven of these outstanding employees on February 24 with the hospital’s highest honor, the Pinnacle Award.

“Every day in our hospitals and clinics, our team members make a difference in people’s lives,” said Mark Slyter, Baton Rouge General President and CEO. “The Pinnacle Award is designed to recognize those who go above and beyond the call of duty to create special experiences for our patients and their families. These employees are an inspiration to all of us.”

The Pinnacle Award was established by volunteer Nadine Carter Russell in 2009 to honor one outstanding employee. Winners are nominated by patients and visitors and selected by a committee of BRG employees and volunteers. This year, the selection committee decided that all seven nominees were deserving of the award.

The 2016 Pinnacle Award winners and their families were treated to a special dinner and presentation, along with a prize package that included a reserved parking space, a customized gift basket and a check for $1,000.

Erin Baloney, ED Tech, Emergency Department
Early one morning, a young mother was on her way to the hospital to deliver a baby, but only made it as far as the area outside the Emergency Room. Ready or not, the baby was coming. Many employees ran outside to help, including Erin Baloney, who actually used her own clothing to wrap the newborn. Seeing how tiny the baby was, Erin took off her scrub top and wrapped the baby in it to keep him warm until he could be taken to the appropriate treatment area.


Alisha Black, PCA II, Telemetry/Cardiac
Every letter written on behalf of Alisha Black describes her as a kind, caring and loving nurse who clearly has a big heart. One woman wrote about her husband who wasn’t an easy person to get along with. “Alisha knew just how to deal with him … she was always kind, always professional, always able to cut through the tension and help everyone relax.” Another woman was moved by how Alisha took care of her mother. “She cared for my mother with such gentleness and love. To be honest, she treated my mother as if she were her own, and that meant so much to me and my family.”

Robbie Darbonne, RN, Pediatric ICU
Robbie Darbonne made an unforgettable impression on an Opelousas family when their 10-year-old son was hospitalized for several weeks. “He always did whatever he could to make sure my son was comfortable,” said the boy’s mother. “Every time we saw Robbie, he brought something to my son … a chicken dinner, a bag of candy, always something to make him smile.” But she is most grateful that Robbie offered to stay by her side when she had to tell her son that his father had passed away. “I had to give this heartbreaking news to my little boy … and when I could no longer talk, Robbie was there to help me get through it. It’s been a year, and to this day, Robbie still calls my son every week just to check on him.”

Kelvin Marshall, Ambassador I, Nutritional Care
Joyce Benton’s husband was starving himself to death. He had lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks and had to be hospitalized. Even after extensive counseling, he would only eat tiny portions of food and only if it came from home. This meant that Joyce had to pretend his meals were either prepared by her or sent in by a friend or relative. When Kelvin Marshall realized what Joyce was doing, he went along with the ruse. “He would quietly knock at the door to let me know the food was ready, but he never let my husband see the tray or let him hear us talking about the meal orders,” Joyce said. “Instead, he noticed which foods my husband liked and mixed and matched dishes and foods to encourage him to eat more. Eventually, my husband started eating well enough that the doctors canceled a stomach surgery that had been planned.”

Ronald Montagnino, Ambassador II, Nutritional Care
Many patients have commented on Ronald Montagnino’s cheerfulness and friendly nature as he discusses diet options with them and delivers meals to their rooms. One family was especially impressed with Ronald, who cared for a family member who had a hearing problem. “Even though he had to repeat himself over and over, day after day, Ronald never got impatient or annoyed,” they wrote. “He was always engaged, always enthusiastic.” One family member said he made it clear that he was there to serve. “He would come in the room to take away the food tray and ask, ‘Did you enjoy your meal? Is there something special you’d like for your next meal? Is there anything else I can do for you?’ He shows such respect for the patients and really helps them feel better.”

Octavia Smith, Patient Care Coordinator, Nutritional Care
“What a special person,” says one patient about Octavia Smith. In 2013, the patient was hospitalized and during her stay, Octavia found out that she loved cinnamon rolls. On several occasions, Octavia made a special trip to the cafeteria to bring her cinnamon rolls straight from the oven. “Two years later, I had to be hospitalized again, and when Octavia saw me, she immediately remembered me … and yes, she brought me warm cinnamon rolls that very day. Who remembers such a thing? Baton Rouge General is fortunate to have such thoughtful and kind people working with patients. I felt very special that she remembered me and was looking out for me.”

Brunetta Spears, Tech III, Environmental Services
We get dozens of letters from patients who sing the praises of Brunetta Spears. She impresses people with how well she does her job (her patient rooms are often described as spotless) and how much she seems to enjoy her work. But it’s the way she connects with people that makes her so special. People often say that she makes them feel at home and that they leave our hospital feeling like Brunetta is part of their family. And this is because Brunetta seems to have a gift for knowing when a patient is feeling down, needs someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. She is positive, encouraging and always has time to listen.

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center

Baton Rouge General Medical Center is a full-service community hospital with 590 licensed beds between two campuses. As the first hospital in the capital city, Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General serves as a satellite campus of Tulane University School of Medicine, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit BRGeneral.org, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BatonRougeGeneral and follow us on Twitter at @BRGeneral.

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