The babies are so small you could hold them in the palm of your hand if they weren't attached to so many wires and monitors. Their challenges however are huge. Born premature, sick or the result of multiple births, these small human beings need specialised care and nurturing. Their parents are distraught and scared. Nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit suffer from stress and burn-out.

Daphna Hyvroni not only provides the technical skills and compassion needed in her role as Head Nurse of the NICU, but supports the 50 members of her team as they suffer from alarm, fatigue and the struggle to keep their babies alive.

Head Nurse at Hadassah's neonatal intensive care unit, Daphna Hyvroni, has dedicated her career the specialised care of babies.

Hyvroni, 59, thought there was a new problem to solve when Head of Nursing at Mount Scopus Ruth Radiano asked Hyvroni to join her in the office. Instead, colleagues began applauding. Hyvroni was named Nurse of the Year, one of only 12 Israeli nurses who will receive this award from the Ministry of Health.

“We treat any newborn after difficulties in the womb, born with malformations or exposed to infections during or after birth,” she says. “In addition, we treat premature babies aged 24 weeks and over, from a weight of about 14 ounces.”

"The job requires a lot of knowledge, but sometimes you have to think with your heart, too,” said Jerusalem-born Hyvroni, who began work in the NICU in 1996.

When one of Hyvroni's nurses lost her husband last year, it became impossible for the nurse to continue regular shift work with four children at home. 

“While I have to be professional, we're also a single team like a family, and families go outside of the box for solutions,” she said. Changes were made to the work rotation to accommodate the nurse and the team acted as a support group to help her through the crisis.

Her own support group is her husband whose name is Yatziv, which is Hebrew for stable and an unusual first name. She gets to see their daughter Gal frequently because she's a midwife in the Rady Mother and Child Center, also part of Hadassah Mount Scopus.

“I’ve always been encouraged to grow at Hadassah," says Hyvroni. "I don’t think I know of another hospital that nurtures its nursing staff in this way. As a head nurse I have so much freedom to implement, to make departmental advances, all the while receiving full support. I feel pampered.”

Since 2013, Hyvroni has headed the national forum for antenatal head nurses, which promotes hospital and nationwide policies and advances.

Her days are full of hard work but also miracles.

“We have a little boy born at week 26, weighing 1.5 pounds. He needed abdominal surgery. Healing was hard, so we made use of a honey-based dressing to close the wound. Our team and his parents were there for him around the clock. He's making a good recovery.”

As she accepts her award, Hyvroni will dedicate it to her team. "They're honey-based, too,” she says.