Linda Marsters recalls the first time a nurse came to her rescue. “I was driving the boys home from their first day of kindergarten, and we stopped at the mailbox at the end of our driveway to get the mail. Frank (Frank H. Marsters, IV) jumped out to get the mail, which he loved to do. I thought he would just walk on up to the house, but instead, he grabbed on to the back door handle of the moving car, and I ran him over.”
That was the first of many times that Linda and her family would be grateful for a nurse’s loving care. “Fortunately, nothing was broken, but the wonderful ER nurse that day spent as much time with me as she did with Frank,” she says. “She was my angel. She hardly left my side. That was my first understanding that there’s more to nursing than giving shots and passing out pills.”
Over the years, Linda, her husband, Frank H. Marsters, III, and their growing family would be the beneficiaries of many skilled and compassionate nurses at Fort Bend Hospital, which later became Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. “With twin boys, we were at that hospital so often, I thought they were going to call Child Protective Services on me,” she jokes.
And there was the time that Linda, while hospitalized at Memorial Herman Sugar Land with pneumonia, received a call from her husband, Frank, saying he thought he was having a heart attack. “I told him to unlock the front door, lie on the floor and call 911,” she says. “When he got to the hospital, my nurse took me down to the ER to see him. Then she arranged to have another bed moved to his room so we could room together.”
The couple’s three children, Frank, IV, James and Lindsay, were born at the hospital, as were six of their seven grandchildren (the seventh was born out of state).
A loving husband and father, Frank was also an accomplished homebuilder. In 2006, Linda was stumped as to what to give him for Christmas. At the time, she was serving on the hospital’s advisory board at the invitation of the hospital’s (then) CEO, Rod Brace, and Brace was looking for ways the hospital could recognize its nurses for going above and beyond. Linda’s gift dilemma prompted an idea: What if, as Frank’s Christmas gift, she were to establish a Marsters Family endowment from which the hospital could recognize and reward one special Memorial Hermann Sugar Land nurse each year?
“I ran the idea by Frank,” says Linda. “And he loved it!”
In 2007, the Marsters’ Nursing Excellence Award at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital was established to recognize the quality, family-centered care received by the Marsters’ extended family. Each year, the hospital recognizes one special nurse, nominated by his or her peers, for their extraordinary efforts in caring for patients and advancing the practice of nursing. Each year, the winner is presented with a custom-designed crystal statue and a monetary award at a ceremony held at the hospital.
Our entire family looks forward to it every year. Our kids would get out of school for it, and we’d take a half day off work to attend. It makes my family so happy.
“It’s a tradition for the Marsters family to come in for the awards and help recognize the recipients of the award,” says Seleria Fletcher, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer for Memorial Hermann Sugar Land.
Malisha Patel, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Memorial Hermann Sugar Land, says, “We are overwhelmed by the generosity and spirit of the Marsters family. What began as a very creative gift idea has become an annual celebration of nursing for our Memorial Sugar Land family. The Marsters Award inspires our nurses to go above and beyond to improve the health of the communities we serve and to elevate the practice of nursing. We are very grateful to the Marsters for this wonderful, thoughtful gift.”
Fletcher says the 2020 and 2021 recipients, both of whom were honored in May 2021 due to COVID-19, truly exemplify the values and behaviors the award was created to inspire—patient-family centeredness, community and professional involvement, system participation and leadership in work performance.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, our 2020 winner, Sabrina Bondzinski, RN, a clinical coordinator in the COVID-19 Cohort unit, has actively sought ways to better serve our COVID-19 patients and her team. In addition, she is involved in several internal and external organizations focused on ways to better serve the patient at the bedside and effect change in nursing practices. Her caring and compassionate heart for everyone she serves is truly a gift and an admirable quality,” say Fletcher.
Bondzinski, who was also nominated for the hospital’s Employee of the Year award, says it’s good to be honored and appreciated. “It was very unexpected. I’ve seen others whom I look up to receive this award in the past, so it’s a great honor to have won the award myself.”
Fletcher says the 2021 award recipient, Carolyn Sullivan, RN, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, has brought her many talents to bear for both her team and her patients. “Among her contributions, Carolyn led a team of nurses who developed a ‘Hand-off Central Line Audit’ tool that gets completed for each patient with a central line in place, a best practice that has contributed to a reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) infection rates. She is also a talented artist, and her murals, pictures of superheroes and notes of inspiration on our hospital windows lifted the spirts of the hospital staff and patients,” says Fletcher.
Reflecting on the past year, Sullivan says, “This year has been challenging as a nurse, and about half of what keeps me going are the people I work with,” she says. “I enjoy the people I work with. We take care of each other.”
Frank H. Marsters, III, died in 2016 at the age of 56. But his legacy continues in the form of the family’s thoughtful and loving gift.
“This is a love story about Frank and Linda,” says Michelle Bair, PhD, director of development at Memorial Hermann Foundation, “It’s about the bond they’ve had with the nurses at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land and the care they’ve received there. They are a beautiful family. We appreciate their ongoing support and generosity.”
Asked what advice she might give to a friend considering a lasting gift such as theirs, Linda replies, “I would tell them that it’s one of the easiest things you can do, and you’ll get so much out of it. It’s about honoring people who change lives. It’s so happy.”
For information about contributing to the Memorial Hermann Foundation, email Michelle Bair at firstname.lastname@example.org.