By Daphne Sashin

HUP nursing support associate Brenda Franks
Brenda Franks, winner of the 2022 HUP Nursing Support Associate award

Caring, dedicated, versatile, efficient: Those are just a few of the words colleagues use to describe Brenda Franks, the nursing support associate for Vascular Surgery Progressive Care and winner of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) 2022 Nursing Support Associate award. Not only does Franks, an 18-year HUP veteran who began her career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), keep 7 City stocked and organized, but she also frequently fills in as her floor’s CNA, the unit secretary, or a one-to-one caregiver as the need presents – whatever she can do to help the unit run seamlessly. When the COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on staffing, “It seemed like Brenda wore a different hat every day, and she was always willing and ready to work where she was needed,” the 7 City unit council wrote in its nomination letter.

In the height of the pandemic, when her unit – then on Rhoads 1, serving vascular and plastic surgery patients – relocated to three different floors to make space for a surging COVID-19 population, Franks reorganized each floor’s supply room to serve the vascular and plastics patients. And when Rhoads 1 was then transformed to house COVID ICU-level patients, Franks helped reorganize that supply room to fit an unprecedented population whose needs had yet to be defined, and made sure the nursing staff had what they needed.

Repeatedly, Franks has proven that “she is the best person in her role,” according to the nomination. Her value to the unit was felt acutely when, not too long ago, she took a short medical leave.

“The floor could not have missed her more,” her nominators said. “She cares about the patients and consider her co-workers as family, she is dedicated, and so determined to do her absolute best.”

At any awards ceremony in March, Franks said the honor left her speechless.

“I can’t believe this,” Franks said. Upon reflection, she said her favorite part of the job is checking in with each patient as she stocks the supply cabinet in their rooms. She asks them how they’re feeling, and if she can help: “I love every minute of it.”

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