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Donna Berry – Nurse, Worker and Advocate: Celebrating a Legacy of Caring

March 22, 2023

March 22, 2023

Created with Sketch. CWP

In recognition of Women’s History Month this March, we are celebrating one of our own!

Trained as a Clinical Nurse Administrator, Donna Berry has more than 27 years of healthcare experience in the home health environment. She has worked in the regional Professional Case Management (PCM) office in South Carolina since 2011 and ran that office until early March of 2023 when she retired after more than 12 years — thank you so much for your service Donna!

But before Donna worked at PCM, she herself worked in the nuclear weapons industry, as did her mother before her. And the legacy continues today, with Donna’s daughter who is also a nuclear weapons worker. They are part of a small group of dedicated women doing this kind of work across the country. Read more about their stories, and their vital contributions to the defense and continued prosperity of the country.

Tell us a little bit about your personal background growing up?

I grew up in Aiken, South Carolina with my mother and three sisters. My mother was widowed very early in her life and faced the challenge of caring for her three young daughters on her own. She had the opportunity to work at the Savannah River Site as a young woman in the 1950s and was very grateful for the opportunity. She worked in the cafeterias within the reactor areas, doing important work while also providing for her young family.

Your mother sounds like a very special person!

She was! My mother was absolutely my role model during my life. I recently found love letters she wrote to my father when they were in school. My sisters and I are working to putting them into a printed book to honor and remember her. Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will each receive a copy in her memory.

How did you come to work at the Savannah River Site?

After I graduated from the University of South Carolina and became a registered nurse, I was asked by a friend if I would be interested in covering for an occupational nurse who worked at the Savannah River Site while she was out on medical leave. I was hired to work at the site for a Department of Energy contractor, MK Ferguson, while she was out having cancer surgery and treatments. My assignment lasted for about a year.

While there, I worked in a mobile unit at the construction site near the burial grounds, where I took care of workers who sustained minor to major injuries. I remember that I once I had a worker who fell off scaffolding. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and the next day he was brought to the sick bay on the construction site for me to monitor every day until he was released. I also handled more minor work-related injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and eye irritation caused by metal, etc.

Woman in nurse uniform
Donna Berry as a Registered Nurse

How did you feel about the work that you did at Savannah?

During the time when I worked at the site, most of the nurses were women; most of the construction workers were men. I felt very honored to contribute to the work being done at the site. All the workers there have such an allegiance to their work and the opportunity it gave them to provide for their families. I also had the privilege of knowing the first woman truck driver at the Savannah River site!

And the site remains a meaningful part of my life today. My husband and I have been married for 47 years. We have a daughter and son who are both married, and two granddaughters and one grandson. Currently my daughter, my son-in-law, and three to four generations of friends and their families have worked or are working at the Savannah River Site. My daughter is currently a Senior Structural Engineer at Savannah River, and my husband worked as a Civil Engineer there as well.

Tell us about your time at Professional Case Management?

I first heard about PCM when I received a letter through the mail advertising a job. I had two intensive interviews and got the job! I have been a Regional Director of both South Carolina and Georgia. I’m proud of the fact that we have achieved ACHC Accreditation and DHEC Survey with no deficiencies.

During my time with PCM, I’ve been fortunate to work with more than 1,000 home healthcare professionals in my region. In this area of the country, PCM serves our clients with a full range of services as prescribed by doctors, with a team that includes a large and diverse group of Nurses, CNAs, and Relative Personal Care Aides.

Over the years, I’ve developed close professional relationships with clients, physicians, hospices, durable medical equipment organizations and the American Cancer Society. I have enjoyed participating in so many great Town Halls, Share the Care events and Resource Fairs over the years too!

I feel very honored to have worked for PCM. My experience as the Regional Director has ensured high standards of competent care for a wide variety of Department of Labor patients with diverse needs.

Woman standing next to Cold War Patriots sign
Donna Berry standing next to a Cold War Patriots sign

What are your plans for retirement?

Spending time with family and friends has always been hugely important to me, and I love the South Carolina and Georgia beaches, as well as the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. I’ll be doing a bit more travelling and making lots of memories with my husband, children, and grandchildren!