Jeanne M. Ten Broeck, former assistant director of nursing in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who established a nationally recognized program at Sinai Hospital for parents who lost children in childbirth, died March 30 from pancreatic cancer at her home in Towson. She was 72.
“As assistant director of nursing in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Hopkins, she diligently managed all of the challenges we’ve had. She was with us for 23 years,” said Diann L. Snyder, the administrator and director of nursing in the department.
“Jeanne was very passionate about our staff and liked to recognize their accomplishments. She was also passionate about gynecology and obstetrics. That was her life,” said Ms. Synder, an Annapolis resident. “She was a very social person and liked to socialize with people and was very compassionate and cared a great deal about the people she worked with.”
Ida R. Samet of Guilford, who was vice president of Sinai Hospital for 40 years before retiring in 2017, was not only a colleague but a close friend.
“She worked well with people from all walks of life, and nursing was definitely her calling, and she had picked the right calling,” Ms. Samet said.
The former Jeanne Marie Schusler, daughter of John J. Schusler, a Mack Trucks automotive engineer, and his wife, Lucille L. Schusler, a secretary, was born in West Orange, New Jersey, and raised in Holmdel, New Jersey.
After graduating in 1965 from Red Bank High School in Red Bank, New Jersey, she earned an associates arts degree in 1967 from Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, New York.
“In high school she was known by friends, family and unfortunately her teachers, for her ‘motor mouth’ and outgoing personality,” said her son, David Wessel Ten Broeck of Westminster.
Ms. Ten Broeck earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1969 from American University and returned to college to study nursing at the University of Maryland, College Park, from which she obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1975 in nursing, followed by a master’s degree in 1983, also from Maryland.
In 2011, she earned a second master’s degree in negotiation and conflict management from the University of Baltimore.
Ms. Ten Broeck began her nursing career in 1975 as a staff nurse in the maternity and gynecology department at Union Memorial Hospital. The following year, she went to work at Sinai Hospital as a labor and delivery room nurse. She later was promoted to associate director of women’s and children’s services.
In 1980, she helped establish and served as coordinator of Sinai’s Crisis Intervention Resources Team: 22 obstetrical nurses and obstetrical and gynecological social workers whose mission was working with mothers who had lost children in childbirth to help link them to self-help groups and to keep track of their psychological and financial needs after they left the hospital.
A nurse would bring a dead baby to the mother so she could say goodbye to her child.
“Routinely in the past, these mothers would never see their babies,” Ms. Ten Broeck told The Evening Sun in a 1981 interview. “We’re finding out that parents want to see their children. When a family has a stillbirth, they are now offered a chance to see the infant immediately in the delivery room or recovery room. Sometimes, they are in such a state, they cry out, ‘No, no, I don’t want to,’ and the baby is kept in the morgue" until the mother is able to confront the loss.
Ms. Ten Broeck told The Evening Sun that she believed the team was the first for Maryland hospitals.
“We’ve tried to incorporate the dead and the living, very small premature babies born with abnormalities. We just don’t want anyone needing help slip through the cracks,” she said.
“Most of the mothers say, ‘You’re here with the baby.' They talk as if the baby is still alive,” she told the newspaper. “And, as many times as I’ve done it, it’s an uplifting and positive experience for me as well as the parents because I see the joy as well as the peace that mothers come to when they realize that this was not a monster that they had, but a real child.”
“And she realized that when the women went home that they would still need help,” Ms. Samet said. “But, that was Jeanne.”
She added: “She was very good and patient when caring for people who were in crisis. She would take the difficult patients and break that barrier. She projected a calmness.”
For her work with the crisis intervention team, she was recognized in 1983 with the National Science Foundation for Excellence in Nursing award.
Ms. Ten Broeck also took care of the new nurses who joined the obstetrics and gynecology department. “Jeanne was our teaching new nurses expert. She mentored them and got them oriented. she also made sure that the existing staff nurses’ skills were updated,” Ms Samet said.
In 1992 she joined Hopkins as assistant director of nursing in the department and gynecology.
“Jeanne came to us for an interview and she was very proud of what she had accomplished at Sinai,” Ms. Snyder said in a telephone interview. “She had such a depth of knowledge in our field that we wanted her on our team, plus she was so well-educated.”
In 2000, Ms. Ten Broeck worked with the nursing staff for gynecologic oncology and gynecology to move in to the Weinberg Cancer Center, “which provided patients and their families a contemporary unit and the technologies to support their care,” Ms. Snyder wrote in a profile.
The Morning Sun
Ms. Ten Broeck played a pivotal role in planning how Hopkins would respond to the 2003 SARS outbreak and later how Ebola patients would be treated.
“Jeanne devoted a significant part of her life to the department and the people in it. The passion and commitment that she has held for her colleagues made this a great place to work,” Ms. Snyder wrote. “We all thank her for all that she gave us over her 23 years of service. It was an honor and pleasure to work with her and we thank her and honor her for the extraordinary service.”
Ms. Ten Broeck retired in 2015.
She was an animal lover and world traveler. She enjoyed attending the theater, concerts, botanical gardens, museums and historical sites. She was a volunteer at Clifton Mansion, where she participated with Civic Works in restoring the onetime summer home of Johns Hopkins.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, plans for a celebration of life gathering are incomplete.
Her son is her only survivor. Her marriage to Dirck Wessel Ten Broeck ended in divorce.