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Nurse of the Week Danielle Fenn understands the vital role of communication in nursing.

Fenn, an RN at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is originally from Brazil, and during the COVID crisis she used her knowledge of Portuguese to make the hospital space more inviting for non-English speaking COVID patients.

It began, she told ABC News, when a co-worker told her, “we were getting a COVID patient that was from Brazil that didn’t speak very much English. They had trouble communicating with him and he was scared. Fenn swooped in to soothe the frightened man as she “walked him through simple questions and gave him my cell number. I told him if he needed anything to call me.” She also left a friendly “Good Morning” message in Portuguese to greet the patient the next morning.

The positive effect inspired her to reach out to other non-English speakers who were being treated, she says. “I developed a relationship with them and decided to create signs around the hospital to help other patients and health care workers. Signs are very important for patients who can’t speak English very well… For the little simple things, it’s nice to be able to use these signs.”

Like many nurses, Fenn’s dedication to the profession was reinforced by personal experience as a caregiver; in this case the patient was her late husband. “I made a promise to myself that if anyone that ever needed my care or any loved one would need something, I would be there. Little did I know that was going to be my husband. My husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. It was very hard. Our children were aged 5 and 3.” Of losing her spouse, Fenn says, ”That was definitely the hardest.” Her loss has failed to dampen her enthusiasm for caregiving, though: “But still, being a nurse is just my favorite. I love to come in and be able to bring a smile to their faces.”

To see a video featuring Danielle Fenn’s story, visit this ABC News page.

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