Amber Kerr, a coordinator and plastic surgery nurse at the Children’s Hospital Colorado Briargate Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic received state-wide recognition for her work with cleft patients. Amber received the 2020 Nightingale Luminary Award in Clinical Advocacy.
"It is such an honor to be included among so many other nurses doing amazing things throughout Colorado," says Amber. "I truly appreciate every person who has encouraged and supported me along the way!"
Personal experience leads to impactful patient programs
Looking different isn't always easy. It can be even harder when you're a kid. Amber wants her patients to know that they're beautiful just the way they are. Born with a cleft herself, Amber has made it her mission to ensure her patients are confident, accepted and self-assured.
Amber gives patients an opportunity many haven't had before: the chance to meet other kids who are just like them.
"The first time I met a peer with a cleft was four years ago," Amber says. "That experience was so impactful to me I knew it was something I had to help facilitate for my patients."
Kids with cleft connect with peers
In 2017, she created and led a Cleft Picnic, an event that gave Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic patients — and their parents — a welcoming space to share their story and connect with others who could relate. This first picnic welcomed over 200 participants, and now, the Cleft Picnic has become an annual (and eagerly anticipated) event. Parents of patients call it a "godsend."
Kerr's outreach to the cleft community isn't limited to the yearly picnics. In 2019, she took 15 patients to Cleft Camp in Breckenridge, a program that now offers both summer and winter sessions.
"On the last night of summer camp 2019, the kids who were nervous and shy at the beginning were laughing, smiling, and dancing with their new best friends," notes Amber. "To see that was one of the happiest moments of my career!"
Creating a community connection despite physical distance
Currently, she's working on fostering community virtually through Zoom meetups. Additionally, in her role at the Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic, Amber helps lead process improvement initiatives, provide inpatient teaching, mentor other team members and more.
Colorado Nurses Foundation Nightingale Luminary Award nominees from Children’s Colorado:
- Nightingale Luminary: Amber Kerr BSN, RN, CPN, Level IV, Briargate Cleft Lip and Palate Team
- Victoria del Valle MSN, RNC-NIC, CNS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Aurora Walters BSN, RNC-NIC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Tammy Dean RN, BSN Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
- Sarah Luft BSN, RN, CCRN Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- Amelia Wirth BSN, RN, CCRN Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- Nicolette Kelley RN, BAN, CCRN Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- Trish Witzel BSN, RN Emergency Department
- Alicia Hanes MSN, RN, AE-C Breathing Institute and Digestive Health Institute
- Whitney Smith RN, MSN, CHSE Simulation Program
- Jessica Dawson RN, BSN, CPN Level 9 Medical Inpatient Unit