“Growing Up as a Child, Disfigured by the Burns, I Was Bullied and Picked On. I’d Look at Those Pictures and Talk to Her, Even Though I Didn’t Know Who She Was”

When Amanda Scarpinati was three months old, she rolled off a couch onto a boiling-hot steam vaporizer on the floor. She was severely burned and had to endure several operations. Immediately after being burned, she was treated at the pediatric unit at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York. Photographs of her in the arms of a young nurse were published in Albany Medical Center’s 1977 annual report — no names were included. Ms. Scarpinati said, “Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on. I’d look at those pictures and talk to her, even though I didn’t know who she was. I took comfort looking at this woman who seemed so sincere caring for me.” In 2015, thirty-eight years after suffering the burns, Ms. Scarpinati posted the photographs on Facebook in a successful attempt to locate the nurse. She said, “Within 12 hours, it [the Facebook post] had gone viral with 5,000 shares across the country. It was on the local TV news the next morning. I was blown away.” Angela Leary, a former nurse at Albany Medical Center, identified the nurse in the photo as Susan Berger. She wrote about Ms. Berger, “She was as sweet and caring as she looks in this picture.” Ms. Berger, who now oversees the health center at Cazenovia College in New York, and Ms. Scarpinati talked on the phone. Ms. Scarpinati said, “It was amazing. She just has such a gentle, caring voice, just like I imagined she’d have.” Ms. Berger, then a 21-year-old, just-out-of-college nurse in the pediatric recovery room at the medical center, said, “I remember her. She was very peaceful. Usually when babies come out of surgery, they’re sleeping or crying. She was just so calm and trusting. It was amazing.” She added, “I don’t know how many nurses would be lucky enough to have something like this happen, to have someone remember you all that time. I feel privileged to be the one to represent all the nurses who cared for her over the years.”

 For Further Information: Mary Esch, “Woman burned as a baby tracks down nurse who cared for her.” Associated Press. US News & World Report. 29 September 2015


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