Women Who Inspire Us: Barb Neff

Barb Neff holding an infant

This month we're inspired by Barb Neff, a woman who devoted her OHSU career to moms and babies, first as a registered nurse in our Mother Baby Unit, and then as a certified lactation consultant as part of OHSU's Childbirth and Early Parenting Education Program. Barb passed away last year after a battle with brain cancer and is sorely missed, by patients and colleagues alike.

"Barb was an exceptional nurse and lactation consultant. She cared deeply for new moms and babies. After her work day was over, she still thought about her patients," says Megan Palinsky, childbirth educator at OHSU Center for Women's Health." Adds Annette Bennion Sisk, a long-time co-worker, "Barb had the unique and special gift in sharing with all of us the magic of falling in love over and over again with each new baby."

Her dedication and attitude positively impacted her patients and co-workers alike. "If you had the opportunity to work with Barb, your day was that much better. As a coworker, you could count on Barb. She made you laugh and she could challenge you to always strive for the best care," says Palinsky. 

Barb loved to be active, and she and several nurses would meet at 6 a.m. to walk an hour to work just to get some exercise during the workday. Outside of work, she was an adventurer. She hiked and skied, cycled and backpacked. She also loved to be with her husband, daughter, two grandchildren, and many friends. Above all, she was devoted to her work supporting breastfeeding moms and their infants.

"Barb really loved babies," says Palinsky. "She would always tell her patients to 'just enjoy your baby,' no matter the struggles with breastfeeding she was helping them through. I picked up this message from Barb, and use it when I host our New Moms Group."