Medical All-Stars, Part 3

Pamela Harris-Haman,
MSN, RNC-NIC, CRNP, NNP-BC, Ph.D., Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Holy Spirit – A Geisinger Affiliate

Pamela Harris-Haman’s first presentation for fellow nurses – on twins in the NICU, she recalls – whetted her appetite for educating.

“Every time I teach, I learn more,” she says. “I’m interested and excited to learn more and share.”

Recipient of the 2015 Nightingale Award of Pennsylvania for Advanced Practice RN, Harris-Haman cultivates a patient teaching style.

“You don’t learn when you’re yelled at,” she believes.

In the NICU, Harris-Haman cultivates calm among parents riding an emotional roller-coaster. Working in a faith-based setting, she can rely on prayer to surmount even the most difficult situations. She strives to keep babies with their moms whenever possible and pioneered skin-to-skin bonding for moms having C-sections.

“It’s just trying to do little things to help parents remember that they did have a baby, and to try to bring something positive to the situation,” she says.

Harris-Haman also pursues her “calling,” as she puts it, by traveling to Kenya twice a year through Touching Lives Ministry. She travels to small villages near Lake Victoria, where running water and electricity are scarce. Health care is spotty. Babies are often stillborn. Visiting in the summer, she’s part of a team providing medical care. In the winter, she teaches community health workers and traditional birth attendants the foundational techniques for sanitary deliveries, plus basic first aid, because “if an accident or injury occurs, we can’t dial 911.”

She is also beginning work in Kenyan hospitals to help improve retention of nurses and promote evidence-based practice models – “how to help themselves and teach themselves.”

She has been going since 2011, long enough for her trips to feel “like visiting a relative.”

What does she get from her work in Kenya?

“Joy and happiness,” she says. “Peace. It’s just wonderful. These people are so appreciative of everything. It’s just an indescribable feeling, to help in some little way.  These people are my second home.”

Harris-Haman completed her doctorate this year, writing her thesis on empowering birth attendants in African villages. The mother of five children and stepchildren, all women, spends time with her eight grandchildren. She hopes she has helped more babies survive, “especially in Africa, and the same in the U.S.”

“I hope I’ve made some little difference,” she says. “I hope I’ve taught somebody over there something that has enabled them to help a baby there and to ease a parent’s mind.”