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A Day at the Park

CHICAGO — Peggy Farrell, RN, MSN, stood on the pitcher’s mound May 12 at Wrigley Field, turned toward Section 433 in the upper deck and saluted her enthusiastic friends, family members and nursing colleagues from Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

“I had to wave to them,” said Farrell, nurse manager of NICU and unit 54. “I heard them. A lot of my friends and family and coworkers rearranged schedules to be there for me. I was so honored.”

Farrell, who won an online essay contest for the opportunity to throw out the first pitch on Nurses Day at the Ballpark, then honored her group of 28 supporters and nurses from throughout the Greater Chicago region with a perfect strike to Chicago Cubs rookie pitcher James Russell at home plate.

Peggy Farrell, RN, MSN, poses with Chicago Cubs pitcher James Russell after she threw out the first pitch May 12 at Wrigley Field.

Farrell, whose impressive toss was featured on WGN-TV’s broadcast of the Cubs’ 4-3 victory against the Florida Marlins, jumped up and down on the mound before happily greeting Russell.

“I was so excited because I did what I came to do,” Farrell said. “Now I know what those [professional] pitchers feel like. I had to get the job done. My kids still can’t believe it.”

Farrell added plenty of warmth to a chilly day at the historic stadium, which welcomed hundreds of nurses for a celebration of the profession that was sponsored by Chamberlain College of Nursing and Nursing Spectrum/

The first 10,000 fans who entered the stadium received free T-shirts from the event sponsors, and the Cubs handed out concession vouchers to RNs in attendance.

Lynette Irizarry, RN, was in attendance at Nurses Day at Wrigley Field on May 12. Irizarry is a nurse at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley, Ill.

Farrell and three runners-up — Patricia Semple, RN, Edward Hospital, Naperville, Ill.; Nancy Teichert, RN, Brighton Gardens of Prospect Heights (Ill.); and Joan Hinsdale, RN, MBA, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago — each received two tickets behind home plate.

Farrell was joined by her mother, Marlene Christ, in the prime seats for the game and on the field. Outside the stadium before the game, Christ showed off a jacket dating back to the 1950s on which she hand-stitched names of her favorite players through the years.

“The No. 1 [memory] was seeing my mom on that field with that smile on her face,” Farrell said. “That made me feel so good. … I grew up on [Chicago’s] South Side, and she raised us all as tried-and-true Cubs’ fans.”

Paula Metc, RN, made the trip to Wrigley Field for Nurses Day from Rock Island, Ill. Metc is a nurse at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island.

The family attends several games each year and also has been to spring training in Arizona and many of the annual Cubs Convention events in Chicago.
Farrell put in plenty of work to get ready for her big day.

She received tips from her son, Michael Biernat, an Illinois State University student who pitched throughout his youth.

“Just pretend like I’m playing catch,” Farrell said of her son’s advice.
She also was encouraged by her brother-in-law, Jaime Garcia, who serves as assistant pitching coordinator for Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros’ organization.

Though throwing out the first pitch in the home stadium of her favorite baseball team was the thrill of a lifetime, Farrell is just as excited about her work for the past 25 years as a nurse.

As part of an exercise at work, Farrell and her colleagues recently were asked to write down their biggest accomplishment in life.

“I put, ‘Becoming a nurse,’” Farrell said.

Before entering the nursing profession, Farrell first worked as a teacher.
After her sister underwent surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Farrell was hooked. She eventually attended nursing school at Rush and later worked at the medical center as a NICU staff nurse.

“I was so moved by the nurses there,” said Farrell, who has spent the past 12 years at Advocate Good Samaritan. “I knew I did the right thing.”

In her winning essay, Farrell wrote about the police bringing an abandoned baby to her unit. Days later, Farrell received a call from the child’s young mother.

Over the course of several phone calls in the span of a month, Farrell counseled the young woman, kept her updated on the baby’s health, and eventually accompanied her to see the baby. Farrell also offered support in helping the young woman — who had given birth alone — to tell her mother about the baby and find a family to adopt the child.

The young mother, who is now pursuing a college degree, still keeps in touch with Farrell.

“I didn’t know where [nursing] would lead me,” Farrell said. “This whole nursing career allowed me to make a difference in peoples’ lives, whether it be my staff or a visitor or a patient.”

Barry Bottino is a regional editor for Nursing Spectrum.

By | 2020-04-15T14:36:08-04:00 June 14th, 2010|Categories: Greater Chicago, Regional|0 Comments

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