Shands at UF nurse receives health care award

Voncea Brusha RN is the charge nurse of the mother/baby unit at Shands at UF.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 11:43 p.m.
This is the first in a series of profiles for what will appear each Wednesday during February for Black History Month.
If she were writing it today, Voncea Brusha's resume might read like this: Registered nurse. Social worker. Student educator. Wedding planner.
Wedding planner? A charge nurse in the mother/baby unit at Shands at the University of Florida, Brusha once had a patient go into labor three days before her wedding. The baby's father was upset because his name wouldn't be on the birth certificate since they were not yet married. Brusha rushed into action, locating a chaplain, finding clothing for the baby and bride, and turning a semi-private room into a private suite for the night. She arranged for one nurse to bring a cake, another with a good voice to sing and even made a corsage and bouquet out of flowers from the nurse's station.
"Even though we were busy, going that extra step makes me feel good inside because they'll never forget it," Brusha said. "I don't think I'm a hero. I'm just doing what comes naturally to me."
Such gestures likely influenced the judges who selected her for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, one of 14 health care professionals to receive the award in 2005 nationwide. Cherokee Uniforms recognizes nurses and other health care professionals for their service.
A Santa Fe Community College graduate, Brusha has been working for 36 years at Shands. In her job, Brusha gives out nurse assignments, deals with any problems and collaborates with other hospital departments to make sure everything runs smoothly.
"She's exciting to work with - very creative, idealistic and vibrant," said Regina Banks-Smith, a fellow registered nurse. "She's a pioneer, bridging people and community wherever she goes. I admire her humanitarian effort."
At Shands, Brusha smiles constantly and talks to everyone. A man passes her in the hallway. She reaches out to touch his arm and inquires about his well-being. A moment later, a young woman turns a corner and runs over to say, "hello."
Back in the mother/baby unit, she leans over a patient to listen to the fetal heart. She jokes about the sound, making the woman smile, and explains exactly what she is doing.
"She comes in and talks more than the other nurses. She's warm and personable while still professional," patient Jenn Carpenter said. "She puts me at ease."
In her time off, Brusha coordinates health fairs at her own and other churches, talks to teenage girls about making healthy life choices and acts as a mentor to middle school children who are interested in nursing. She makes presentations on lupus and diabetes or does high blood pressure screenings for community organizations.
She is president of the Greater Gainesville Black Nurses Association and will be traveling to Washington, D.C., this month to discuss nursing issues with members of Congress.
"When I get involved, I go crazy. I just enjoy what I do," she said.
University of Florida Black History Month: Schedule of major events
  • Tonight: Speech by Spike Lee, O'Connell Center, 8 p.m. Friday: Step Afrika, Rion Ballroom, 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: Kid's Day, T.B. McPherson Park
  • Feb. 9: Speech by Michael Eric Dyson, Grand Ballroom, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 10: Play "Back in the Days," Rion Ballroom, 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 16: Comedy Show, Grand Ballroom, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 17: Fashion X-Clusive, Florida Gym, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 18: 17th Annual Florida Invitational Step Show, O'Connell Center, TBA
  • Feb. 24: Escape to Morocco Ball, Grand Ballroom, 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 28: Closing ceremonies, Rion Ballroom, 7 p.m.
    For a complete list of events, go to the Black History Month Web site,
    Source: Black History Month Web site
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