article by Betty Morales, BBH Volunteer Coordinator

I remember the first time I met Miriette Dorval.  It was during a team meeting held to discuss the care for patients on the southside of Leon County.  Miriette and her family had just moved to Monticello from Ft. Lauderdale where she had also served as a hospice nurse.  That was in 2006, fourteen years ago.

I was immediately impressed with her extensive knowledge of end-of-life care.  I was struck by her beautiful creole accent and her sweet smile. It was very apparent being a hospice nurse meant everything to her.  Miriette and I quickly became friends. 

Over the years, I discovered it wasn’t just her clinical expertise that helps to serve those facing a serious illness. Miriette genuinely cares for her patients and their families. She is often described by others as a gentle, kind, and compassionate nurse that cares for her patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. She constantly reassures them she will be with them as things change. She openly and consistently shows appreciation for everyone on her team and acknowledges their part in caring for who she refers to as “her” patients.  

My personal connection with Miriette also grew over the years. Our daughters are very close in age; therefore, we began supporting each other through the challenges of parenting young girls. We celebrated birthdays and special events together. We have cared for each other during some of our most difficult days. Miriette inspires others and me through her gentle spirit and willingness to always be available to help.   

As a coworker and a friend, I have complete confidence in Miriette providing the best care. This confidence was affirmed back in 2017 when my husband and I had to face a difficult decision. We were the caregivers of my mother-in-law. She had been declining over the months and was eligible for hospice services. But no matter how much hospice experience I had, I was scared and unsure of myself. Miriette was my strength. She answered questions and reassured us, educated us, and prepared us. She came into our home and provided the peace-of-mind we needed. Having her as our nurse gave me a whole new appreciation for what she does and who she is for so many in our community. 

Miriette was the recipient of the 2007 Carol Pluchino Gaeta-Jaffe Award for Nursing Excellence. This award is given to honor a nurse who has made a significant contribution to the Big Bend Hospice nursing practice each year. Miriette was recognized for her diligence, problem-solving, and compassion to patients and families. She humbly accepted the award, although she didn’t understand why since being a compassionate nurse was just a natural part of who she is as a person.

For Miriette, Hospice nursing is truly her calling. As a coworker, as a friend, and as my nurse, I know Big Bend Hospice and I are so fortunate to have her, someone who gives fully of herself to patients and families.