2011 Dr. Gauthier named Schwartz Center Award Nominee
Naomi Gauthier, MD, a pediatric cardiologist in Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital (WDH) was selected as one of five finalists for the prestigious Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award®. Approximately 100 caregivers from throughout New England were nominated this year.
Dr. Gauthier was recognized and honored at the Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner on Thursday, Novem¬ber 17th, at the Boston Convention Center. The dinner is one of the largest healthcare events in New England.
“We are pleased to be able to highlight caregivers like Naomi who are providing compassionate care and making a huge difference in the lives of patients and families,” said Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen.
Gauthier cares for infants, children and young adults with congenital heart problems. She dislikes the term “heart defects,” asking “who decides those hearts are really defective, when these children and families have taught me more about compassion and acceptance than I ever could have imagined.”
WDH Nurse Director of CHaD at WDH Karen MacDonald attended the event to honor Dr. Gauthier.
"The ChaD at WDH staff and I are very proud of Dr. Gauthier because she is most deserving of this recognition for the compassionate care she provides everyday,” said MacDonald. “We are fortunate to see what it means to her patients and families to receive this exceptional care and what a difference it makes in their comfort levels. Dr. Gauthier's big heart truly is most caring of all of her patient's little hearts!"
Gauthier is described as a doctor with a unique ability to connect with patients and families, helping them to understand the workings of the hu¬man heart and making them feel safe. “After our first visit, I left with tears of happiness,” one mother says. “I had never had a physician take the time and exude compassion as she did.” Another says that “Dr. Gauthier is in the right business – caring for little hearts with her big one.”
Among her colleagues, Gauthier is seen as someone who is extraor¬dinarily dedicated.
According to Pamela Hofley, MD, Medical Director, CHaD, Southern Region Clinical Services, “As a physician and person, Naomi truly exemplifies compassion in her work and in her interactions with our patients. She understands and whole-heartedly addresses the comprehensive and complex needs of children who are faced with cardi¬ac issues at such a young age and their parents. She also provides vision and leadership for how such care should be delivered.”
In addition to her clinical work, Gauthier has established a camp for children with congenital heart problems where they can be free to be themselves. For many of these children, going to Camp Meridian is the first time they have been away from home other than being in a hospital. She is also developing a community and recreation center for children with chronic illness.
“This could not have come at a more opportune time,” Gauthier said. “Steeped in frustrating new computer systems and complex insurance red tape, I had begun to lose sight of my true calling. As I read of the nomina¬tion, three things came to mind. First, the fact that an award celebrating compassion exists was inspiring and profoundly gratifying. Second, I was deeply touched that the parent of one of my patients took time from her busy schedule to not only think of me, but to initiate the nomination process. Third, it made me sit back and really reflect on the concept of compassion, and how it has been vital to my career since the beginning.”
Dr. Gauthier (fourth from left) is pictured with her fellow nominees at the dinner celebration.