One Nurse’s Legacy Helped Fulfill Another Nurse’s Dream

When Keyanna Mincey stepped into the Steinbrenner Emergency/Trauma Center at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital for her first day of work as a Nurse Tech she felt immediately at home. As a former EMT, Keyanna was used to hectic days filled with all different kinds of trauma, so the buzz of the ER was familiar to her. And at the center of it all was Bettina Carroccetto, the charge nurse for the department. Bettina quickly took Keyanna under her wing. “It was just her way,” shared Keyanna. “She was passionate about her patients and as well as her coworkers. She wanted both to feel loved and cared for.”

Though Keyanna initially planned on becoming a doctor, her pre-med college curriculum left her wanting more of a connection to patients. Thus, her dream to pursue a degree in nursing was born and no one was more supportive than Bettina.

As Keyanna was working through her nursing pre-reqs Bettina was always there to answer any questions and offer encouragement. “She was definitely a mentor to me, but then she also became a friend and confidante,” explained Keyanna.

They became so close that Bettina was the only person at work who knew Keyanna was expecting a little one. She was overjoyed and looking forward to attending a concert with the new mother-to-be shortly after learning her happy news. But the day before their planned outing, a car accident took Bettina’s life.

Keyanna was crushed by the loss, both personally and professionally. Not only had Bettina generously offered to help babysit so Keyanna could continue working full time and continue her education, but her presence at work loomed large in Keyanna’s life.

“There are simply no words to describe the hole her loss left in my life. It would have been easy to just give up, because without Bettina by my side I knew how hard it was going to be to juggle it all. But I knew she’d want me to move forward with my career, not only for myself but for my baby. I was driven to fulfill my dream not only for me and my child, but for Bettina, too.”

Little did Keyanna know that Bettina was not done helping her. Soon after her passing, her family established The Bettina Carroccetto Memorial Fund for Nursing Excellence at St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation, aimed at helping others at St. Joe’s who wanted to pursue a nursing career and carry on the kind of work Bettina did so well.  Keyanna Mincey, was honored to be a recipient of this scholarship.

“It meant so much to me to receive a scholarship in her name. At the time I was a full-time mom, a full-time student, and a full-time nurse tech. It was a lot. But I didn’t give up. The scholarship felt like Bettina was tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “I got you.”

With Bettina’s “help” Keyanna finished her degree and in 2013 started working as a nurse in the peds ER, just like her mentor and friend. It’s the department she loves most and where she has spent most of her career to date. However, one of her proudest accomplishments came during a short stint in the adult ER when she was given the opportunity to assess and improve the process for moving patients from check-in through either release or admittance. Her recommendations drastically improved the flow of the department.

“From the time I started here I always felt like my team members and superiors appreciated my feedback and suggestions. It’s that kind of culture and camaraderie that ultimately makes things better for our patients,” says Keyanna.

And it’s one of the reasons she is so passionate about giving back. Everyone on her team works so hard and cares so much, Keyanna wants to support them in the same way she was supported. That’s why every year since she received her scholarship, Keyanna has made a gift to The Bettina Carroccetto Memorial Fund for Nursing Excellence, saying that it’s a chance to help another nurse achieve their dream.

“I know just how amazing that feels and I want to be part of doing that for someone else. It’s the perfect legacy for an amazing person like Bettina, who did that on so many levels.”

In some ways Keyanna feels like her journey at St. Joe’s has come full circle since she started fourteen years ago, from meeting and learning from an incredible pediatric ER nurse to becoming one herself. But she knows there is more she wants to do.

“I feel so blessed to be here at St. Joe’s for as long as I have. The fact that so many of my colleagues have been here just as long or longer really says a lot. It’s been an incredible place to work and I see my future here.

A future where her next dream job would enable her to both work with patients a few days a week as well as focus on process improvement and quality control. Since she’s proof that dreams do come true, Keyanna is confident that both St. Joe’s – and Bettina – will once again be there supporting her every step of the way.

“The peds ER feels like home to me, and every time I walk through its double doors, I feel Bettina everywhere. She was very much the heart of this department. I know she is smiling from above, watching me continue to spread the positive energy she projected into the world. She made that possible and I will always strive to make her proud.”