GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — Barely 15 minutes into her 12-hour Saturday shift, nurse Maria Galizi sprang to action as medical technicians burst through the doors of Greenwich Hospital's emergency room, carrying a stretcher with an elderly woman struggling to breathe.
Galizi halted her conversation with another nurse and, at a doctor's orders, hurried through the halls to retrieve medications and fetch respiratory specialists.
"It's fast-paced work," Galizi, a Greenwich resident, said as she checked a patient's chart on a computer. "Every day, someone new comes into your life. It's nice to be a part of someone's healing."
Galizi's daily life-saving work over her 12 years at Greenwich Hospital earned her a nomination for a Real Award, which honors outstanding health care providers around the globe. Sponsored by Save the Children, a nonprofit group that serves children in need, this year's inaugural awards contest recognized Galizi among 12 nominees nationwide in the field of emergency care.
Another nurse, Donn Kropp of Redding, Calif., won the emergency care Real Award last Tuesday.
Galizi treats up to 30 people a day, juggling the care of multiple patients simultaneously. Even under the constant pressure that characterizes a workday in the ER, she maintains a "gentle bedside manner," always soft-spoken and "compassionate," said her friend Penny Crump, who nominated her for the award and works in Save the Children's Westport offices.
"Nurses never toot their own horn," Crump said. "Maria exemplified that humility and modesty to me through her life of service."
Galizi chose nursing as a career after her father spent several months in an intensive care unit for pancreatitis. Seeing nurses' role in her father's care, she decided to devote her life to medicine and went to nursing school, she said. Her mentor, Vera Morrongiello, a 20-year veteran nurse clinician at Greenwich Hospital, said Galizi grew to love the rapid rhythm of the ER.
Her perception of her work changed with the birth of her now 8-month-old daughter Isabella. She said motherhood has made her "more open-hearted" and allows her to see glimpses of her daughter in children she treats.
But Crump said Galizi was known for her motherly persona long before she had a child: She instructed prenatal yoga classes in New Haven and was reportedly adored by the expectant parents.
Galizi said though her work includes children, she was initially nervous and "hyper-vigilant" with regard to her daughter's care.
Galizi admitted exhausting 12-hour shifts make it a challenge to balance work and family life. She credited her husband, Vincent, a musician and recreational therapist for Greenwich's Nathaniel Witherell nursing home, with being a "proud papa" who often takes charge of diaper changes and tucking Isabella into bed.
Galizi is also surrounded by a support system at work, she said. She greeted her coworkers with a wide smile and described the dynamic among the nurses and doctors as a "big family."
"We work as a team, especially when something serious comes through the door," Galizi said. "I trust them with anything."
Information from: Greenwich Time, http://www.greenwichtime.com