83-year-old South Jersey nurse gets international award for exemplary care

'I am never scared. I'm a brave nurse, and I say that if I get [COVID-19], it means that it’s meant to be.'

SEWELL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — A nurse at Jefferson Washington Township Hospital is being honored for her exemplary service during the most difficult of times.

Mercedes Kallal, 83, is in the age group most at risk for severe complications and death from COVID-19, but that hasn't stopped her from showing up day after day and doing what she says is her calling in life — helping people.

"I am never scared. I'm a brave nurse, and I say that if I get it, it means that it’s meant to be," she said.

"Mercy," as they call her at the hospital, is grounded by her faith. She's barely 5 feet tall, but colleagues said her enormous heart and passion to provide the best care she can makes her the nurse managers call upon to work with the most difficult patients.

"You know why? Because I’m very strict and I explain to the patient that this is the way it has to be. You have to listen to your nurse. And before they leave, they give me a hug and a kiss," she said.

Kallal received a DAISY Award, which is an internationally recognized award for exemplary care. Nurses are nominated for a DAISY by patients and hospital staff.

However, she said she never has and never will work for awards.

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