Published on April 21, 2021

Sabrina Ganaway retires

Joining Sabrina Ganaway at her retirement celebration April 19 at the NMMC Women’s Hospital were daughters Lisa and Sarah, and son Chris.

Ganaway Retires from NMMC Women’s Hospital after 43+ Years

Sabrina Ganaway gave birth to a premature baby and was introduced to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and her life’s calling. She recently retired after more than 43 years as a registered nurse with North Mississippi Medical Center.

A native of Dorsey in Itawamba County, Sabrina graduated from Itawamba Agricultural High School in 1973. She married Carl Ganaway just a few weeks before she started the nursing program at Mississippi University for Women and he began his studies at Mississippi State University.

In 1975, their son, Chris, was born six weeks early, weighing only 3 pounds, 13 ounces. “That was my introduction to the world of NICU,” she says. Because of his health issues, Sabrina dropped out of nursing school for a while but eventually finished her associate degree in nursing from MUW in 1977. Sabrina was hired by NMMC and they moved back home to Dorsey.

Sabrina worked for about 10 months in the hospital’s Resource Pool before transferring to the NICU. She soon became the night charge nurse in the NICU. Except for a brief stint with a local OB-GYN clinic, she spent her entire career with NMMC. When Women’s Hospital opened in 1986, she helped move everything from the main hospital to the new facility—including the babies, two at a time by ambulance. Over the years, she worked in Labor and Delivery, Postpartum and NICU.

Sabrina’s love for helping new mothers breastfeed motivated her to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “In the early days, there was not much breastfeeding in the NICU,” Sabrina says. “I attended a two-day breastfeeding educators’ course in 1999 and was encouraged to pursue lactation certification. At the time I didn’t know what that would lead to.”

What it eventually led to, around 2006, was a new role as lactation consultant for Women’s Hospital and later, in March 2019, for the NICU specifically. She is especially proud of helping Women’s Hospital attain the highly prestigious international Baby-Friendly designation in 2020 after a rigorous review by Baby-Friendly USA, the organization responsible for bestowing this certification in the United States.

Throughout her career, Sabrina has been recognized for her dedication. She was named Employee of the Year in 2001, the same year that former NMMC neonatologist Dr. Bryan Darling received the Golden Tongue Blade Award. “It was so special for me to receive the award with Dr. Darling,” she says, “because it meant people recognized our work in the NICU as valuable.” In 2001, NMMC’s Spirit of Women presented Sabrina with the Community Hero Award.

While the awards are special, Sabrina says nothing compares to the support she has received from coworkers. “Around 2006-2007, my daughter-in-law went through cancer, underwent a liver transplant and then passed away. The support that I got from my work family was phenomenal,” she says. “Then in 2009, my grandson had cancer and again, my work family’s support was phenomenal. That’s a benefit of working here – the people you work with.”

Sabrina’s work family came through again for her on Jan. 2 when Carl suffered a stroke. “Now is the time for him to become my top priority,” she says, “and for me to focus on my family and grandchildren.” The Ganaways have three children—son Chris, who lives at Lake Piomingo with wife Wendy and children Colton and Ally Kate; daughter Lisa Martin, who lives in Tupelo with husband Jonathan and children Jack, George and Charlie; and daughter Sarah Anderson, who lives in Tupelo with husband Matt and children, Maya, Macy and Emma Kate.

            Sabrina attends First Baptist Church in Tupelo, where she sings in the choir and teaches first grade Sunday School. She plans to continue helping with staff education at Women’s Hospital and, even though she’s retired, never shies away from sharing her expertise. “There are a lot of people who still call me for help for their family members or friends who are breastfeeding,” she says. “I’ll always help any way I can.”

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