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The DAISY Foundation continues to celebrate the tremendous skill and compassion of extraordinary nurses through its nationwide recognition program. The following are excerpts from DAISY Award recipients’ 2011 fourth-quarter nominations.

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

To nominate a nurse you know, visit

Sandi Vargas, RN

Sandi Vargas, RN, MSN • Home TeleHealth • James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Fla.

As a new VA nurse, Sandy became an expert telehealth problem solver and educator. She provides advice and guidance for veterans seeking assistance with health issues and coordinating care with other members of the healthcare team. Sandi consistently goes above and beyond to ensure optimal customer satisfaction. Recently, she encountered a family member/caregiver who didn’t know how to drive and couldn’t pick up her debilitated husband’s new scooter from a civilian shop. Sandi contemplated driving the caregiver to the shop to pick up the scooter after work; however, she remained after hours coordinating with prosthetics and the social worker to deliver the scooter to the PT’s home within a day. She additionally took the time to nominate the prosthetic staff member for a gold star recognition for his excellent customer service. Both the veteran and his caregiver expressed their gratitude because owning a scooter boosted the veteran’s self- esteem and independence, ultimately improving his quality of life. Job well done!

Amy Bultman, RN

Amy Bultman, RN • ICU • St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam, N.Y.
Parent nomination:
Having a severely handicapped child is stressful. Then, when he becomes critically ill with pneumonia and sepsis, requiring ICU admission adds an immeasurable amount of worry and stress to his parents. While the entire St. Mary’s ICU staff has been wonderful to us, there is one RN, Amy, who stands above the rest. She gives impeccable care and displays great critical care knowledge, but she also has reached inside our souls to lend an ear, give support and guidance as well as using her extensive knowledge to help us understand the multiple medical issues our son has. She stays close to his physician while she makes rounds to keep up on our son’s daily condition. She helps us understand our son’s needs. When I get emotional, she takes time to put her hand on my shoulder and ask what she can do to help. Despite her responsibilities on a very busy unit, she never hurries in and out. She always speaks to our son —although he is nonverbal – and she has a special way of soothing him as well and making him smile. I truly believe she treats all of us as family. When we look into the sky at night we see many stars, but Amy is the star who shines brighter than the rest.

Linda Westbrook, LPN • Inpatient Surgical • Community Hospital North in Indianapolis
After surgery and then a mini meltdown in my room, Linda came in to find me crying. I didn’t ring my help button because I’m usually so self-sufficient and all my requests seemed so trivial. She unplugged my IV so I could change into a more comfortable shirt, she brought me warmed wash cloths, wipes and towels. She fixed my sheet and blanket, which had twisted themselves into a tangled mess. She got me fresh ice water, Jell-O and crackers to help my stomach. I cried when she left not because I was still in pain, but because to me she exemplifies the definition of a nurse. She consoled, comforted and made me feel not like I was being petty, but made me feel OK about not feeling OK. Thanks Linda!

Adrienne Sears, RN

Adrienne Sears, RN • Maternity Services • Carolinas Medical Center-University in Charlotte, N.C.
I would like to nominate Adrienne Sears for the care she provided to a patient who came in for a routine delivery and left with a new diagnosis of cancer. Adrienne was caring for this patient during her labor, which was going as planned. During a vaginal examination by the physician, a large rectal mass was palpated. The physician immediately consulted with another OB as well as a general surgeon. Adrienne was collaborating with them all to ensure her patient received the highest quality of care. Once the team reviewed the findings, a decision was made to take the patient downstairs for a C-section and exploratory lap. Adrienne worked with the main OR to get the patient taken downstairs for the case. Obviously the patient and her husband were shocked and very upset. Adrienne shared in their tears. She stayed by the patient’s side, giving her husband her total support. She followed the patient downstairs, and the husband was allowed to go into the main OR so he could be with his wife. This is not the typical practice. The patient was diagnosed with a form of colon cancer, and an ostomy was created as a part of her care and treatment during her surgery. Typically this patient would be transferred to another floor for follow-up care, but Adrienne worked with the charge nurse and physician to have her kept on the maternity floor. She wanted her to be able to breastfeed and bond with the baby. Adrienne collaborated with our wound/ostomy nurse to ensure that the patient and staff were comfortable caring for the ostomy. Adrienne opened her heart to this patient and her husband and was able to be there for them at one of the toughest times of their lives.

Irma Sax, RN

Irma Sax, RN, BSN • Surgery • Saints Mary & Elizabeth Medical Center in Chicago
Irma Sax was nominated by 17 of her colleagues: “Irma is quiet and somewhat conservative but always gets her job done. She inspires co-workers with an excellent work ethic and has been a role model on the unit, being loved by physicians, co-workers and everyone working together. She treats the patient with sincere love and care providing excellent quality care that nobody can compete with. She is a true care provider to our patients when they need it most.”

Laurie Mathers, RN • Med/Surg • Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center in Santa Rosa, Calif.
In summer 2006, I was a patient in the Infusion Center. This was a dark and difficult time in my life. After 10 years of living in my own apartment in San Francisco, I had to move back in with my family for care in Sonoma County. I also was dealing with an HIV diagnosis that I was hiding from my family and that I was very ashamed of. I was spending so much energy beating myself up about HIV and hiding it from my concerned family that it was affecting my chemo for recovery. Recognizing this, Laurie took the time out to personally talk with me about my fears. She spent time with me above and beyond her duties and helped me find the strength and resolve to come out to my family about my HIV status. They treated me with compassion and forgiveness, which enabled me to finally forgive myself. My life opened up after this. I am now healthy and recovered, and am graduating as an RN from UCSF next month, after being inspired by Laurie’s infusion center nursing. To give back, I facilitate support groups for people newly diagnosed with HIV. I also am going on to get a master’s as a nurse practitioner in HIV. I am so grateful to Laurie Mathers. She changed my life. She is an example of the difference a nurse can make.

Sean Garrison, RN

Sean Garrison, RN • ED • Oakwood Healthcare System: Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center-Dearborn in Dearborn, Mich.
On July 8, 2011, I received a phone message from a patient who had recently been through the ED and then admitted as an inpatient at OHH. This patient wanted to tell me about the extraordinary care she received from Sean Garrison. The voice message was so long that it was actually in two parts. It started with, “Sean Garrison is the best nurse ever.” The patient explained that she arrived in the ED alone and that she had no family or friends for the ED staff to call. The patient stated that she was very scared and that throughout her stay in the ED, Sean was very attentive and spent extra time with her because he could see how alone she was. When it was time to move her to an inpatient room, Sean took her to the room himself and made sure she was settled in. He promised to come back to see her the next day. The patient was very surprised when Sean did as he said. He told her that he had shared some of her story with his wife and that his wife said she would pray for the patient. Sean also brought in a drawing that his daughter made for the patient. At this point in the phone message, the patient began to cry. She said she had never been so touched by another person in her life. It meant a lot that Sean thought enough of her to talk to his family about her. “I felt like a part of their family for a little while, and for someone who does not have a family that means a lot.” The patient went on to say the picture that Sean’s daughter drew for her hangs on her refrigerator and is one of her most prized possessions.

Alayna Davis, RN, BSN • Step Down/Progressive Care Unit • White Plains Hospital in White Plains, N.Y.
Alayna Davis had a patient who was diagnosed with cancer. Since he had been on her unit for a while she became involved with his family. One day the patient told her that he had been trying to marry his significant other of 30 years, but he had difficulty due to a previous marriage. However, his condition was deteriorating and he explained to her that more than anything in the world, his last wish to make his life complete would be to marry his significant other. Little did he know, Alayna would make his last wish come true. At a meeting Alayna announced that she was having a wedding. At that time another nurse manager stated that she had made a white cake that she could decorate and use for the special occasion. Alayna asked the mayor to come and he got a Supreme Court judge to come to the hospital to complete the paperwork. She also arranged to have another nurse manager’s husband, who is a minister, come to marry the couple. A social worker’s husband played guitar while the eager and compassionate staff members sang. The patient was escorted to the chapel by Alayna and his bride-to-be. He asked the mayor to be his witness. He insisted on walking to the chapel and Alayna stood by him for support. The ceremony was the most beautiful event we had ever witnessed. There were family and friends and even strangers to celebrate this man’s last wish with his love. The patient and his wife were so grateful. The hospital had a special, oversized room that they offered him for the night with a special dinner for the couple and their guests. A man, a woman and all other observers’ lives were changed that day because of one nurse named Alayna Davis.

AnnaSummer Harrison, RN

AnnaSummer Harrison, RN, BSN • 4 North, Hematology/Oncology • Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin, Texas
It is difficult to stand out in 4 North because excellence is the standard of care in that unit, but I would like to nominate AnnaSummer Harrison for the DAISY Award. Our daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2010. We have had many unplanned stays due to infections and other side effects of chemotherapy. The open-ended, unplanned stays are especially difficult to deal with mentally. What makes AnnaSummer excel as a nurse is her ability to keep us happy and positive. She gives us a pep talk when she senses we are down. She explains procedures and medicine options when we need it. And she gives us good old celebrity gossip talk when we need the distraction. The biggest compliment that we can pay her is that we love her and consider her to be a part of our family.

Elizabeth Zike, RN, BSN • Flexible Nurse Staffing Team • Baptist Hospital of Miami in Miami, Fla.
“Little did Elizabeth Zike, RN, flex staff nurse know that as she approached NW 57th Ave on the 836 on April 26, 2011, still a few miles from Baptist Hospital, her nursing shift was about to begin. Elizabeth was the first responder to a 5-car accident on the busy highway. Her commitment to the nursing profession and her compassion were the forces driving Elizabeth to stop at a moment’s notice, not thinking about her own safety. It was evident by the nature of the accident more than one fire rescue team would be needed, because of the multiple injuries to several people. Elizabeth used her critical thinking skills and her professional knowledge to assess the scene quickly. She immediately identified a critically injured victim and initiated CPR….Because of Elizabeth’s commitment and dedication to her profession she continued on to work and completed her 12-hour shift. The community saw her as a hero that day on the news; however, we see her as a hero every day.”

Susan Meinel, RN

Susan Meinel, RN • Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic • Aurora Lakeland Medical Center in Elkhorn, Wis.
As veterans, Susan and I discussed our experiences in the military. Susan shared with me her experience of being a medical chaperone on the Freedom Flight for WWII veterans. I expressed an interest, and she offered to assist me with the application. Susan did more than assist; she obtained the forms and helped me fill them out. She has agreed to go with me as my medical chaperone. In the past few weeks, I have had some medical problems and have become weaker. Susan has advocated for me to be on an earlier trip, and I have received notification I will be going in October. Susan has gone above and beyond the normal nursing care for me, and I value her care and support for my illness and well-being.

Alaina Sparkman, RN, BSN • Pediatrics • CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo.
Alaina had a 4-year-old with pneumonia who really had not been feeling well all day. Adhering to our job of setting goals every day, she asked this little girl early in the morning what she wanted her goal to be for the day and she replied, “To beat you in a race!” She set her goal, and by 2:30 p.m., Alaina had coordinated a race. She built a paper checkered flag, made a crown with jewels for when the little girl won (obviously it was rigged from the beginning), had a nursing student use her green jacket for the green flag to start the race, got a toy car for the little girl to ride in and a wagon for herself to ride in. She had the dad push the little girl and I, Alaina’s fellow RN, pushed her in the wagon while she steered. We started the race and the little girl was laughing and telling her dad to “hurry!” all the way to the end of the road (our unit). We waved the checkered flag at the end and presented the little girl with her crown and a round of applause. She was SO excited! This made her day and brightened our day as well. Way to go, Alaina for great patient care!

Althea J. Pierre, RN

Althea J. Pierre, RN, BSN • ED • Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
My first contact with Althea Pierre was on my first week on the job at Maimonides. She was working in the resuscitation area of the ED. An uncooperative and verbally abusive patient in the next bed who was assigned to the other nurse had refused all efforts by the ED staff to get his blood drawn. I watched as Althea gently talked to the patient and, finally, after all others had failed before her, she calmed him down. Although it was busy that day, she competently took care of the patients under her care and still managed to treat that first patient and his family with respect. She was able to break through the barriers, then received their trust and cooperation. When she noticed me, she introduced herself, gave me a bright smile and a welcome hug. I left the room thinking, “What a beautiful nurse she is.” My first impression was further strengthened by subsequent observations of her competent and compassionate care to her patients. Her positive and professional attitude remained constant, and she seemed to have an incandescent light about her as she cheerfully went about her duties. She provided the human touch that bridged the gap between technology and the basic concept of nursing: caring. And now, I’m stunned by the news that she is sick and will be going for surgery. Through all the emotional and physical turmoil that she is going through, she still managed to email her thanks for the help that the ED staff had given her and also gave words of encouragement and hope to the staff. She tries to give comfort when she is the one who needs it the most. She is an angel among us.

By | 2020-04-15T14:04:55-04:00 December 26th, 2011|Categories: National|0 Comments

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