Irene “Leanne” Doringo, M.S.N., R.N., clinical nurse coordinator for the Texas Cleft-Craniofacial Team at UT Physicians, has been selected as an honoree in the Houston Chronicle’s “Salute to Nurses” program.
“I was shocked, humbled,” said Doringo, who has been in the nursing field for 12 years. “I just never expected that type of recognition. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was very young, and I take pride and pleasure in helping others. This is a very special recognition in my career.”
Matthew Greives, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric Surgery at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), nominated Doringo. “This isn’t a job for her,” explained Greives. “It is her life. When I think of what it means to be a nurse, I think of Leanne. Empathy, sympathy—she embodies that. She bonds with the patients and their families. The cleft team would not be the same without her.”
Doringo has been a part of the UT Physicians pediatric surgery team for four years. Before that, she was a nurse at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“I found what I love to do here,” said Doringo, with an emotionally charged voice. “Not only do I have a passion for helping babies and children, but I’m also caring for their parents and families. Treatment at such a young age can be not only physically draining, but emotionally.”
Dr. Greives described Doringo as the heart of the cleft team. “I can do the surgeries, but Leanne builds relationships with the families,” he said. “She takes what she does here and makes it part of her life.”
Doringo echoed that. “My family supports me,” she says. “What is important to me is that my children understand what I do at work. Not everyone is the same. We talk about that often when it comes to cleft work and facial differences. I want my children to understand what it means to treat others the way you want to be treated.”
The cleft-craniofacial team was established in 1952 by The University of Texas School of Dentistry, which is part of UTHealth. Each year, the team performs 40 cleft lip and 40 cleft palate surgeries for newborn babies, plus more than a hundred surgeries related to speech, bone grafts, jaw surgeries and rhinoplasties. Families seeking help come from Houston and around the world.
Doringo was a special guest at the annual Salute to Nurses luncheon on May 2. A special section of the newspaper recognizing all of the honorees will be published on May 7.