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Denise Broeker (left) and Nancy Fedak Ross

Life with a new baby is anything but normal for most couples, and families with a baby in the NICU know this better than most. Baby baths, changing diapers and even feeding Baby can be so different than what new parents daydreamed before meeting their young one.

Nurse Denise Broeker has dedicated her career to helping new parents find those normal moments of family life through breast-feeding and the bond it creates. Broeker was recognized as the winner of the Nancy Fedak Ross Exceptional Nurse Award for the devotion she shows to the families she serves.

“Denise is dedicated and passionate about the work she does,” said Leann Zerkel, vice president of nursing at SSM Cardinal Glennon. “As one of her colleagues said, ‘Denise is the full package.’ She is a real asset to the families that depend on us.”

Broeker joined SSM Cardinal Glennon as a NICU nurse in 1974. She has dedicated much of her career to helping new families through childbirth education, labor coaching and assisting mothers and babies with breast-feeding.

When SSM Cardinal Glennon introduced a dedicated lactation program in 1998, Broeker became a board-certified lactation consultant. The new program started small, with Broeker as a part-time lactation consultant and four breast bumps. Broeker’s passion toward helping mothers breast-feed their new babies inspired her to cultivate the program. The hospital now has 15 nurses certified as breast-feeding educators, 30 pumps and two employee pumping rooms.

Broeker doesn’t limit her support to the families in the NICU. She does breast-feeding consultations throughout the hospital, in outpatient departments and occasionally with employees who need assistance. Each day she sees between 20 and 45 mothers.

Her support goes beyond breast-feeding help. Broeker started a NICU parent support group in 2011, which grew to a robust group now managed by the Social Service Department.

Broeker also encourages women to donate breast milk to the region’s Mother’s Milk Bank, which provides milk for a number of infants in the NICU as well as across the region. Over the past six months, Broeker has facilitated the donation of more than 3,000 ounces of breast milk.

The prestigious nursing honor was established by Nancy Fedak Ross, a former burn unit nurse at SSM Cardinal Glennon. She remains a devoted supporter of children’s causes and the hospital. The award, now in its seventh year, represents a tremendous pool of talent at SSM Cardinal Glennon. This year’s nominees were: Broeker, Carolyn Berwin (NICU), Allie Coppin (PICU) and Heather Schott (2 South).


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