Julie Singleton, Northeast Georgia Health System

Nurses are often called angels, seeing people through life’s most challenging moments.

At least that’s what it seemed like to LeeAnna Pless, who met registered nurse Julie Singleton only hours after being told that, at 36 weeks gestation, her son no longer had a heartbeat.

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Singleton, a labor and delivery nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, was sympathetic, having seen a close family member lose a baby.

“I vividly remember the compassion she showed me and my husband,” Pless said. “Looking back, I can see where it was like she was treating me as if I were her own sister.”

Nursing is something Singleton, the youngest of six children, said she wanted to do from an early age. As a young girl, she had helped take care of a grandmother who had Alzheimer’s and saw her mother go through breast cancer. She even was a “volunteen” in high school at Rockdale Medical Center, now Piedmont Rockdale Hospital.

Singleton was presented with an AJC Nurse Excellence Award on Tuesday afternoon, after being nominated last fall. More than 800 nurses were nominated, with 10 receiving awards.

But she also had a passion for music, and so she toyed with the idea of becoming either a music teacher or a nurse.

“I wanted to help people,” Singleton said. “And I feel like the Lord told me to be a nurse.”

Obstetrics was the perfect fit.

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“I love children. I love babies,” she said, chuckling as she recalled almost passing out when she observed her first C-section.

Pless said the 12 hours she spent with Singleton “still affect me to this day and will for the rest of my life.”

After the stillbirth, Singleton bathed the couple’s son, made prints of his hands and feet, and took keepsake photos of him. She addressed the boy by name, explained everything she was doing, and made sure the couple could hold him as much as they wanted, Pless said.

“Julie definitely recognized the weight that those precious memories would have on us …,” she said. “Julie’s actions and compassion have definitely helped make my journey through the grief of losing my sweet baby a little easier. She was truly a light in the darkness.”

Pless’ baby’s death “was very sad and not the first, unfortunately” in Singleton’s nearly 10 years as a nurse.

“Things don’t always go the way you expect,” she said.

But when they do go well, “It always just astonishes me how amazing it is that God has created a human being,” Singleton said. “Seeing the joy on the parents’ faces when they see their baby for the first time or hear that first cry — that’s always been the best time for me being able to be a part of that experience.”

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Read more about the nurses honored at this year’s ceremony:

Shannan Browning, Piedmont Healthcare

Lauren DePietro, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Sarah Harper, Wellstar Cobb Hospital

Rose Horton, Emory Healthcare

Damar Lewis, Northside Hospital Duluth

Gina Papa, Clarkston Community Health Center

Deepa Patel, Wellstar Shared Services

Andrew Perea, Kaiser Permanente

Cherish Ramirez, Piedmont Healthcare

Denise Ray, Piedmont Healthcare: Nurse Leader Award


Age: 32

Current job title: Registered nurse in Labor and Delivery with OB (RNC-OB) certification, working at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. The center is part of the 700-bed, four-hospital Northeast Georgia Health System

Lives in: Dawsonville

Years of experience: 9.5

Educational background in nursing: BSN from Brenau University

Family info: “I am originally from Conyers, where I grew up with my parents and am the youngest of six children. I have 13 nieces and nephews who I love to spoil. I am currently dating a wonderful man named Nathan.”