St. Mary’s nurse earns Patriot Award

Whenever he had to be there for his country, his boss was there for him.

National Guardsman Joe McBurney, 44, has worked at St. Mary’s Hospital for 11 years. Until about six months ago, when he transferred to the quality-improvement area, he worked for Nurse Manager Mary Ingalsbe in the cardiac unit of the hospital.

When he needed to fulfill his obligation in the National Guard to serve one weekend each month and two weeks each year, she rearranged the work schedule without complaint. When he was called away to fight fires with the Guard, often on short notice, she simply wished him well and told him to be safe.

And when he was told in January 2003 he had 48 hours to get to Montrose for training before going to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, then shipping out to Camp Victory in Iraq, she took care of his paperwork and let him deal with the other myriad tasks he had to complete before the 14-month deployment. She also sent him notes and care packages while he was in Iraq and encouraged other employees to do the same.

“She never showed what a lack of convenience that was,” McBurney said. “If something came up, she’d say, ‘I’ll find a way to make this fit into your schedule so you can continue to be an employee.’ “

McBurney decided to show his gratitude by nominating Ingalsbe for a patriotic employer award through the U.S. Department of Defense. In July, he was informed she won the award, and McBurney and other employees surprised her with the award at work on July 27.

“I didn’t see it coming at all,” Ingalsbe said. “It was overwhelming.”

Ingalsbe is modest about the experience and somewhat embarrassed by the attention. But McBurney isn’t embarrassed to share his appreciation for Ingalsbe’s patience with his schedule and pride in the military.

“A lot of people give verbal praise and support, but she demonstrated it through her words and her actions,” he said.

Ingalsbe said she built her appreciation for the military around her father, who served in World War II. She said she was struck by the bond her father had with fellow servicemen and how committed they were to serving their country, and she wanted to support anyone who shared those qualities, such as McBurney.

“I felt like it was important he have any support we could provide,” Ingalsbe said. “He should be honored, not me.”


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