Emory Healthcare nurse Danielle “Dani” Giaritelli has had her share of “redefining moments” during her brief career. Those are the times that remind her why she became a nurse.
One of those involved taking care of a mother and son who were both in Emory University Hospital. Critical care nurse Giaritelli said she got to know the entire family during her shifts caring for COVID-19 patients.
When the mother was near death, she asked the son if he wanted to be with her. He did, and Giaritelli dressed him in protective gear and wheeled him into his mother’s room.
“I was crying; he was crying,” Giaritelli said. “She passed, but he was getting ready to be discharged and go to rehab. It was this simultaneous moment of joy but also a devastating loss. That moment was kind of why I do what I do.”
Giaritelli’s father, Chris Giaritelli, nominated her for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution Excellence in Nursing Award.
Giaritelli’s family says she is the “epitome of what a nurse should be” and “prides herself in her job, giving all of herself continuously and graciously.”
As a nurse, Giaritelli does the little things that make a difference for a patient. She never rushes, but spends time to make them feel safe, Chris Giaritelli said.
“She uses an iPad to talk with patient’s families and reassure them they are getting the best care possible,” Chris Giaritelli said in nominating his daughter. “She makes it a priority and loves letting families have that time with their loved ones. It’s a small testament to what sets her apart.”
Giaritelli, 26, has been an Emory nurse since 2016. The Tallahassee, Fla., native had never been to Atlanta except for a brief visit as a child. But she Googled the top hospitals to work for, and Emory Healthcare popped up.
After volunteering in an assisted living community during high school and caring for her grandmother, she chose to go into nursing.
“I love elderly people. I wanted to work with the elderly, and I thought nursing would be a good area to start with,” she said.
Giaritelli is also getting her master’s degree at Kennesaw State University while working full time in the COVID unit. Her ultimate career goal is to be a chief nursing officer.
Giaritelli also says she wants to help fix some of the industry’s problems, namely nurse burnout and stress. She said she’s been on the emotional roller coaster with her job, having difficult days followed by great moments. Learning to shift her perspective and be grateful for her work has helped, she added.
“I want to have an impact on how nurses see their jobs,” she said.
Her father said Giaritelli had shared her exhaustion, frustration and heartache from losing patients over the past year. But “one thing that never swayed was her love for her job and her positive and encouraging attitude.”
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Meet the other award winners:
Vicky Hogue, Wellstar Paulding Hospital. Winner of the Nurse Leadership Award, sponsored by Mercer
Rochanda Crawford, Grady Health System
Beth Dziczkowski, Northside Hospital Cherokee
Clayton Fowler, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital
Jody Leonard, Southern Regional Medical Center
Kathleen LePain, Piedmont Healthcare Athens
Tasneem Malik, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Laura Moss, Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital
Laurie Pazda, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital
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Credit: Georgia Department of Economic Development
Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com