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DENVER (KDVR) – A Regis University graduate and dedicated nurse who had a four-hour round trip commute to her job in Denver recently got a startling diagnosis. Now, her family is sharing their medical journey.

Brianne Ham lives in Haxtun, Colorado, which is a small town in the northeast corner of our state. For years she’s traveled to Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center near City Park for work. She carries such a passion for her job that she feels the drive was worth it.

“Turns out I just loved the mom-baby world,” nurse and mom Brianne Ham explained. “So, that’s kind of where everything has stuck and kind of where my passion is.” 

That passion has been what pushed Brianne to make the long journey to care for her patients at Denver Medical Center.    

“As nurses, [we] always try to empathize with our [patients’] families as they’re going through different challenges,” Brianne explained. “We get to celebrate with them in one of the happiest moments of their lives, so it’s really neat!” 

“We fell in love with her. She’s a phenomenal nurse who gives up her heart and truly takes that family-like care to the patients,” her co-worker Laura-Anne Cleveland said when discussing what Brianne’s brought to the team.

Those who worked with her at the hospital said that before Brianne was a mom herself, she could relate to her patients on another level.  She has since had a few kids of her own and is currently 20 weeks pregnant with child number three, for whom she recently underwent an ultrasound that revealed fluid around its developing heart.  

“When you see one of our team members as a patient, it’s kind of a gut check,” Cleveland said. “You don’t want to see your friends and your colleagues hurting.” 

Baby Barett was born with a congenital heart defect and was additionally diagnosed with Jacobsen syndrome, which according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences is when there has been a deletion of several genes on the 11th chromosome.

“We weren’t prepared for a medical diagnosis,” Brianne said.  “So, it was a lot to process, [but] I was glad that I had some medical background to understand a lot of what they were throwing at us.” 

“It was a lot in the matter of a few hours,” the father of the child, Braden Ham, said.

Just 30 hours after being born, little Barett was sent to the newborn intensive care unit where he would remain for 11 days.

“We were there, you know Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and her birthday and the whole time we couldn’t see either two kiddos, which was harder than I realized it would be,” Braden said. 

Now, little Barett is 6 months old and has already undergone two separate procedures to repair valves in his heart. 

“We just feel so comfortable and trust each one of them so much so that has helped so much along the way,” Brianne said.  

Despite the hurdles, the Ham family feels added comfort knowing they’re being cared for as if they were family.

“To be honest with you, it takes a lot of the nerves out in an otherwise nervous situation and makes it a heck of a lot easier to the point where we don’t dread going to these appointments so much because we know we’re in the right spot,” Braden said.  

Now that Brianne knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of her job’s care, she hopes the hurdles she had to overcome will make her a better nurse. 

“There’s no better way than to actually go through something yourself. So that’s actually been something that has been big for me that I’ve learned through this process,” Brianne said.  

Since then, the family has invested in emergency medical air transport insurance so that in an emergency they don’t have to drive Barret two hours to the Denver Hospital. Instead, they will be able to drive to the hospital closest to their house and get airlifted to a Denver healthcare facility.