Faces in the Crowd: Ashley Percifield

Ashley Percifield, R.N. in the NICU at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital, received the DAISY Award over the summer. She was nominated by a NICU mother who wrote the letter of gratitude in her darkest hour.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The role of a nurse takes on many meanings, often times much more than attending to medical needs. Ashley Percifield takes her profession to heart and became like a family member to one NICU family.

Ashley Percifield, R.N. RHRCH says, “These families leave their most prized possession with you and you know they trust you to give that care and give that love when they’re gone.”

Ashley Percifield and Nanette Fitzgerald

Ashley Percifield and Nanette Fitzgerald at the Regional Health Rapid City Hospital NICU

Ashley became close to the parents of a preemie baby girl, who came into the the world too soon, weighing just one pound three ounces, but while she was little, she was fierce.

Ashley says, “She was just this fierce little warrior she fought all the time, pulled her tubes constantly. So there were many nights that you just couldn’t console her or she just wanted a little extra love that night.”

Ashley became part of the baby’s care team for the next five months, interacting with her parents for hours everyday.

Ashley Percifield shows baby gown

Ashley shows baby gown in NICU clothes cabinet

Ashley says, “The dad, he would come in almost every morning before work, just one of those dads that probably every little girl dreams of having. Then the mom, what a gentle, kind spirit. She had the most patience I mean of any woman I’ve ever met.”

Ashley Percifield, R.N.

Ashley Percifield, R.N.

When it was time to take their child home, Ashley helped them prepare for the road ahead. Once they got home, the baby got an infection and was rushed back into the NICU. She passed away shortly after returning.  

In the mother’s nomination letter she says, “Ashley carefully cleaned our sweet baby, dressed her in the most beautiful gown with booties and a bracelet, and carefully protected her in a cold cot until we were able to say our final goodbyes. When we were able to see her again, she looked like an angel. I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life.”

Ashley walking the hall of the NICU

Ashley walking the hall of the NICU

Ashley was touched by the nomination from the family, saying, “What a beautiful thing. I feel like [the mother] wrote that letter in the midst of her despair … so I just feel that for someone to be in their deepest sorrow to be grateful and to show gratitude it’s just – I find it even hard to find the words to describe that.”

Ashley looks at the baby’s picture everyday for inspiration to put her best foot forward for the families she serves, saying “This family has definitely change my life forever. ”

NICU staff were honorary pallbearers at the baby’s funeral.

Categories: Faces in the Crowd, Local News

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