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Meet the 2010 DAISY Recipients — First Quarter

Thanks to The DAISY Foundation, nurses across the country are celebrated for their extraordinary patient care, spirit and character. Each quarter would like to recognize the nation’s DAISY recipients so the celebration of their accomplishments continues. A sample of these nurses’ nominations, or “spotlights,” will be featured on and The following are excerpts from DAISY Award recipients’ first-quarter nominations.

To view a full list of this year’s winners, visit

Lili Lobingier, RN

Lili Lobingier, RN
Perinatal, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Portland, Ore.

“Providence St. Vincent Medical Center has an annual Perinatal Loss remembrance service, which honors the families who lost a child early in life. During the reception, Lili met Naomi, a 5-year-old girl who lost her brother. Lili gave Naomi “Lumpy” — a Heffalumps stuffed animal from ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ Naomi later wrote Lili a thank-you note about how important Lumpy is to her. According to Naomi’s mother, Lumpy goes everywhere with Naomi. It is a vehicle for the family to talk about their loss. Lili also gave Naomi a memory box to put things in that remind her of her brother. When they visit the gravesite, Naomi always brings Lumpy along.”

Jenny Acuna, RN

Jenny Acuna, RN
Mother/Baby, Baptist Hospital of Miami

Acuna was nominated by a new mother:

“Jennifer Acuna was our nurse the day before we were to be discharged at Baptist. My husband and I had been living out of our car, because we no longer could afford rent as my husband had lost his job and I was pregnant and unable to work. The social worker at Baptist came to help place us, but shelters wanted to place us in different shelters. I was in a state of panic and becoming more and more depressed. … Jennifer sat by my side for a long time just listening. Not even an hour later, she told me she had found a place where we could live for the first three months with our baby and not have to pay any money to live there. On the day of discharge, Jennifer lived out her promise by taking us to an ALF that is owned by a family member. … Jennifer came to visit every day that she was not at the hospital … taught me how to care for my baby. Jennifer took a chance for someone she did not know. She has made a major difference in our lives and brought back a feeling that there is still hope for humanity. Her ability to trust, care, teach and not judge will forever impact us.”

Helen Cherian, RN
Med/Surg, Beaumont Hospital, Troy, Mich.

Recently, first-year nursing students finished their clinical day and gathered for their first post conference. When they were asked, “How did it go?” one student said, “Tonight, I met the nurse that I want to be.” The nurse she had been paired up with was Helen Cherian, and this is the story the student relayed to the group: Helen began her shift at 7 p.m. On her initial rounds, she found one patient looking sad and had asked him whether he had eaten. When he replied that he hadn’t she said, “Well this sandwich looks tasty.” The patient explained that he had asked for condiments and would try to eat it when they brought it to him. Helen said she didn’t want him to wait to enjoy his sandwich, so she retrieved the condiments for him and asked with a smile whether he needed help preparing it. She stayed to make sure that the sandwich was to his liking and later returned to check in on him. The student stated, “I think that this patient knew that Helen really cared about him. I knew she cared. Her caring was real.” The rest of the night proceeded in the same manner. Helen went from patient to patient in her usual unhurried manner with a genuine concern and caring for each of them. In the few hours that she worked with her student, Helen made an impression that will stay with that student for the rest of her career. Helen unknowingly became a role model. When the student relayed the stories to her peers many had tears in their eyes. It wasn’t because the stories were sad or overly joyous but they demonstrated a profound level of caring and compassion.

Michelle Heyland, RN, center, and staff at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Michelle Heyland, RN, BSN,
Behavioral Health, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago

“Michelle spends extra time with her patients and communicates with the families and treatment team to give full patient care above and beyond what is required. We recently had an extremely difficult patient who would not bathe or eat and was suffering from severe apathy and depression. Michelle took the time to daily bathe, clean, feed and sit and talk with the patient to keep moving forward. She gave her time to see this patient make as much progress as possible during their stay on our unit. Michelle kept the care focused on the patient and encouraged the patient to perform activities with motives for a better lifestyle.”

Kathleen Spadaro, RN, BSN
Oncology, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore

Kathleen’s nomination comes from her co-workers:

“In December, a young woman and her husband arrived from Michigan for HIPEC surgery. The woman was dying from appendix cancer. She turned out to be inoperable and was given days to live; her distraught husband was desperate to drive her back home as soon as she was stable. The timing was too critical, however. The woman’s dying wish was to get back home to say goodbye to her two children. Despite a full team of patients, Kathleen was determined to make this woman’s last wish come true. She involved the entire floor and spent hours working with the husband, physicians, social work and case management to secure a medical flight trip home to Michigan to an inpatient hospice, where her children and family were waiting. Kathleen displayed every single Caritas in her efforts to fulfill a dying woman’s wish. She “cherished” this patient, her husband, her children, her family and the sacredness of their relationship and their last days together. Kathleen practiced every single core value of the Sisters of Mercy. Dignity of life, hospitality from our heart, justice with total integrity, excellence in our work, empowerment to our gifts, stewardship of our mission.”

Cel Milfeit (left) and Wendi Risacher (right)

Wendi Risacher, RN, BSN, CCRN, and Cel Milfeit, RN, CCRN
PICU, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

“Cel and Wendi worked together to help fulfill the wish of a PICU patient. They both have cared for Jessica — now 21 years old — since she was in a tragic car accident at age 6 which left her paralyzed from the neck down. Recently, her health has not been favorable and she has endured several painful surgeries. Despite her declining health and the pain she has had to endure, one thing could always bring a smile to her face — Sidney Crosby! Her only wish in life was to meet him in person. Her family’s attempts to arrange this had been unsuccessful. With this in mind, Cel contacted multiple staff appealing to Child Life for assistance, but none were able to help. Cel appealed to Wendi, who thought she might have a “connection” through a family friend. With the permission of Jessica’s family, she wrote a very moving letter detailing the patient’s life journey and her wish to meet Crosby. Through the generosity of her husband’s good friend, Wendi was able to send this letter directly into the hands of Penguin owner Mario Lemieux. On Dec. 6, Jessica went to see the Penguins play and was able to realize her dream; she got to meet Sid Crosby in the Pen’s locker room. She could not have been more radiant. This monumental event in the life of this patient occurred because of the kindness, caring and compassion of Cel and Wendi. They both went above and beyond their roles as caregivers to ensure the fulfillment of Jessica’s dream.”

Julia Brown, RN
Telemetry, Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, Nashua

“What do you do when a patient balks at signing a consent form for a medically necessary procedure? When Mr. X was advised to have a cardiac cath to determine the reason for his NSTEMI admission, he would not sign the consent and insisted he was fine and wanted to be discharged, as he was very busy running his own business; 90 employees needed him at this time; he had no chest discomfort; and we were wrong and he didn’t have a problem with his heart because he never had classic chest pain symptoms (note: his admitting sxs were atypical). Julia tried everything she could think of to change his mind, but nothing was working. It took hours and untold energy, but finally what worked was “I explained the difference between the electrical and mechanical pumping of the heart; the engineering details,” and this finally did the trick. Later, Mr. X needed two stents in his LAD for serious blockages. I firmly believe Julia indirectly saved this man’s life. The easy way would have been to allow him to sign the AMA form and leave, after all the patient was within his right to refuse any procedure; most busy, time-pressured nurses would have done it. It reflects how much Julia really invested in this patient’s nursing care.”

Mark Parent, RN
Behavioral Health Center, Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y.

“In my job I have the opportunity to see much of what takes place on the unit and how the staff interacts with our patients. Mark is always the nurse who jumps in to assist a patient, family member or colleague. He is professional and always sees both sides of even the most difficult situations. He can calm down a frightened or angry patient and assist if one has chest pain and must be transferred to the main hospital for further medical evaluation. Mark gets along well with everyone and is a driving force in getting all staff to work together.”

Joselita Sanchez, RN

Joselita “Josie” Sanchez, RN
Telemetry, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J.

Josie was nominated for The DAISY Award by her co-workers in telemetry:

“This great nurse will go out of her way to help me at all times. Always reassuring me and making me smile. Great preceptor. Whenever you call her, she is always there to help. She never gets angry and always has a smile. Josie is sweet and caring, goes above and beyond the duties she is assigned. She is an excellent team player, always willing to go the extra mile to help out her fellow workers. Exhibits exceptional and outstanding skills, caring and compassion to her patients and never forgets the family members in the process. Josie is a dedicated nurse who demonstrates great patient care for all patients on the floor.”

Tracey Forehand, RN
Telemetry, Palmetto Health Richland, Columbia, S.C.

“One day, one of our patients was due to be discharged and his wife, Mrs. C, needed to go to the outpatient pharmacy to pick up her husband’s prescriptions. Mrs. C was unfamiliar with the hospital campus so Tracey, even though the unit was busy, knew the right thing to do was to escort Mrs. C to the pharmacy. As they started for the pharmacy, Tracey noticed that Mrs. C was a little short of breath. Tracey didn’t think this was unusual because Mrs. C was a smoker and had been walking around a lot. Regardless, Tracey got her car and drove Mrs. C to the pharmacy. Once there, Tracey noticed Mrs. C seemed a bit restless. It was at this time Mrs. C admitted she didn’t have enough money to pay for her husband’s prescriptions. Attributing Mrs. C’s behavior to this dilemma and knowing how important these discharge medications were to the patient, Tracey volunteered to pay for the prescriptions. After the pharmacy visit, Mrs. C was very short of breath and in obvious distress. Tracey questioned Mrs. C about how she was feeling and her medical history. Mrs. C told Tracey that she had a history of heart disease, had not been taking her medications and was now having chest and arm pain. Tracey told Mrs. C she needed to go to the ED and be evaluated but Mrs. C refused. She didn’t have the money and was sure she would feel better if she just rested. Tracey, always doing the right thing, insisted Mrs. C go to our ED. She alerted the ED and the AOD that they were arriving and left Mrs. C in the care of the chest pain unit staff. Later that day, the AOD informed Tracey that Mrs. C did have a heart attack and within a half hour of her arrival was taken to the cardiac cath lab for an emergency angioplasty. A few days later, Mrs. C was discharged but not after coming to our unit and giving Tracey a tearful thanks. The doctors told Mrs. C if she hadn’t gotten to the ED when she did, she would have died.”

Laura Ryan, RN (center, in pink)

Laura Ryan, RN
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, UAMS Medical Center, Little Rock, Ark.

Here is what patient Eli’s family, Jesse, Jodie and Walker M., had to say about Laura:

“On Aug. 3, at 36 weeks gestation, we were admitted to UAMS by our Fetal-Medicine Doctor. One of our twin boys, Eli, had been diagnosed earlier in the pregnancy with Spina Bifida, and after four months of preparation, we were more than prepared to care for our special needs son at the point of delivery. After delivery, Eli was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital NICU for further evaluation while our younger twin, Walker, remained in the UAMS NICU. The next day, we received the news that Eli was diagnosed with multiple anomalies. Our family had to make a choice that no new parent should ever have to make: We chose to let our beautiful baby go back into our Lord’s arms. On Aug. 6, we pulled all tubes off of Eli at ACH and were told to expect only minutes with him. Against all odds, Eli kept breathing. Fourteen hours later, after very encouraging words from doctors at ACH and UAMS, we finally opted to have Eli transported to UAMS to be with his twin brother during his last day of life to spend as a family. That evening, Laura Ryan was placed with us in Walker’s room at UAMS. As we were holding our dying son in our arms, Laura stepped in with great courage. We were extremely fatigued, to the point where our heads were bobbing up and down. We had been up for four days straight, with the last day being spent staring at Eli’s breathing and wondering if that was going to be his last breath. Jodie hadn’t even had a chance to rest following her C-section days earlier, yet we didn’t want to shut our eyes. Laura took him from our arms, told us to take a nap, and assured us she would hold and watch him. Each time we opened our eyes, Laura was in the room with Eli in one arm, and working on charts with the other. She had wheeled the computer station into our NICU room and was working with one arm to stay caught up with her shift work while also making sure he was comfortable and warm in the other arm. We had numerous hours’ worth of inspirational conversation with her, and she knew just what to say to put our hearts at ease. Our Eli passed away at 2:50 a.m. Aug. 10; thanks to Laura, he was placed in our arms as it happened. Laura shared the last hours with our son and never acted as though it was frightening or inconveniencing her. This is a moment in time that we will never forget for as long as we live. Laura did so much more than what was expected, and we are forever grateful for her service, friendship and compassion.”

Adam Ayer, RN
PCA-1, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: Scottish Rite, Atlanta

When treating patients, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the tasks that need to be performed and forget that it’s the little things families and children remember about their experience at Children’s. Adam Ayer always remembers those little things; like wearing a purple shirt the day after his patient said it was her favorite color or putting on a bright pink Band-Aid after letting a lab tech stick him with a needle to ease his patient’s fears of having blood drawn. In the year he’s been with Children’s, the PCA I staff have received numerous letters from parents praising Adam’s approach to care and attention to detail. His team is equally impressed by his compassion. “Adam comes to work daily with a contagious smile and positive attitude. When we get wrapped up in the task, it is his behavior that reminds us why we’re here,” his coworker shared. “Adam provides his patients with a positive experience in an often difficult time, which truly makes a difference in their lives.”

Mike Gregory, RN, is pictured with Belinda Hendley, Clinical Director of the ED.

Mike Gregory, RN
ED, Methodist North Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.

Gregory was nominated by Clinical Director Belinda Hendley:

“Mike had a patient who was homeless and extremely dirty. Mike went beyond a simple nursing assessment for the physical complaint and gave the patient a washcloth. He then asked whether my church had a clothes closet. I called the church to see if my friend could find something that would fit. She found coveralls that might fit, so I picked up the clothes so Mike could continue to provide care for his patient assignment. He also mentioned that Cindy from registration was thinking of getting him a pair of shoes, so I stopped at Walmart for warm socks. When Cindy registered the patient, his story brought her to tears. After speaking with Mike and knowing what he had initiated, she shared the story with her co-workers. They started collecting money — during the Christmas season when money was tight — and reached about $150. The registration ladies and ED case manager took one hour PTO to go shopping for the patient. They purchased a coat, hat, gloves, underwear, long johns, shoes (size 16), two sweat suits, socks and a few other items, including a bag to carry everything. The excitement of the registration staff while shopping at Walmart made the cashier curious; this resulted in the manager giving them 10-20% off each item purchased. The patient — appreciative and touched by this gesture — was able to put on clean warm clothes before leaving with a huge smile on his face. Even though this is a group effort to ensure all needs of the patient were met, it started with one nurse attempting to meet as many needs as possible in the short time the patient is in our care. This patient is still seen by staff on the sidewalks near Methodist North in the very shoes, coat and hat that was given to him.”

By | 2021-05-07T08:33:43-04:00 April 5th, 2010|Categories: Nursing Awards|0 Comments

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