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 2012 third-quarter nominations.
To nominate a nurse you know, visit www.DAISYfoundation.org.
Paula Solipaca, RN, BA • ED • Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals Methodist Hospital in PhiladelphiaPaula Solipaca, RN
“I learned of the following story quite accidentally when a beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to Paula Solipaca at the Methodist ED,” the nominator wrote. The flowers were from a very grateful patient.
While working in the Methodist fast-track area, Paula encountered a young woman who was there for treatment who began to relate concerns beyond herself. This patient was involved in a volunteer organization that helped deserving young girls go to their prom.
A dress, in the patients possession, already had been purchased and fitted for one of the girls, and it finally was ready for delivery. The prom was less than six days away. During an incident at the patients home, the dress was extensively damaged. The patient was so devastated that she would disappoint the young woman who had no idea that her dress was ruined.
Paula, always comforting and knowing just the right words to say to her patient, told her that she would love to help. The next day, the patients mother called Paula and asked whether she could find a way to repair the dress. Paula, without hesitation, said, “let me see what I can do,” and began her journey of leaving no stone unturned.
On Saturday, Paulas day off, she and her mom went to pick up the damaged dress. Paula, with her limited sewing background, consulted with her mom, who had years of sewing experience. Both agreed that it was an impossible task, but they had to do something. They made the trek to Fourth Street, the fabric district in Philadelphia, and Paula purchased (with her own money) fabric that resembled that of the ruined prom gown.
For the next two days, the mother and daughter worked nonstop to complete a dress for the unsuspecting high school senior. It was only after showing it to the patient and her family that they contacted the girl who was to wear it and arranged for a fitting.
They had done such a wonderful job that the girl hardly recognized it as a different dress. All ended well, and this deserving young lady went to the prom in a beautiful dress designed especially for her. It happened all because of Paula. It happened because of her persistence and her dedication to patients and her willingness to do more than what is expected of her.
“Paula made a positive nursing imprint not only for her patient, but on a young girl who will someday pay it forward,” the nominator concluded. “This is only one story, but Paula does things like this every day. She is a wonderful representative of what caring nurses do, and I, for one, feel very lucky to have her as part of our staff.”
Susan Johnson, RN • ED • Angel Medical Center in Franklin, N.C.Susan Johnson, RN
Susan is an all-around phenomenal person. She comes to work each day ready to serve her patients and co-workers to the best of her ability. She is compassionate to each person she meets, no matter their status or condition. She consistently is one of the hardest-working nurses on duty, with a smile on her face.
One example came in the middle of the night with a multiple-vehicle accident. What easily could have been a code black situation was handled in-house under Susans direction. Not only did she successfully handle a code black, but during all this she also noticed a patients family member in distress over what to do with their injured dog. Susan, with seven dogs of her own, called her personal veterinarian, arranged for the vet to come to the office in the wee hours of the morning and provided directions for the family to get to the vet.
Janet Graham, RN • MICU/CCU • VA North Texas Health Care System in Dallas.Janet Graham, RN
Janet Graham. It is not a name, so much as it is an institution in the MICU/CCU. Chances are if a veteran or a veterans family member has visited either unit in the past 25 years, they will have their own special memory of Janet.
Janet has nurtured inexperienced interns and watched them grow into knowledgeable attending physicians. When they visit, they often remark, “Janet, are you still here?” She smiles and says. “Yes, Im still here, but Ive been reading some self-help books about how to leave the ICU.” Then she laughs.
The sound of Janets laughter is the only sound more prevalent than the constant drone of the Drager monitors or ventilator alarms or chiming feeding pumps. Janets laughter resounds in the halls of the hospital and leaves everyone a little better for having heard it. Because once youve heard her laughter, it means she has taken the time to engage you in conversation. Shes asked how you are. If you are visiting, she has asked about the state of your loved one. And if you are lucky or blessed enough for you or your loved one to be in her care, you are going to get 110% of her skill, kindness, care and compassion while she is here. On her lunch break, she is going to go to the store and get you something youve desperately needed and never even told her, but she knew. Shes going to comfort you, eliciting a smile in the most unlikely of circumstances. Then when the moment comes when medicine can no longer stave off death, she is going to cry with you and hold your hand.
At that moment, you know that someone who truly cares about you is at your side supporting you through one of the most difficult decisions of your life.
Life in the ICU is stressful and hectic, but it is never so hectic that Janet doesnt have time to give you the emotional support you need, when you need it.
Erin Donaldson, RN • Medical Unit • Seattle Children’s HospitalErin Donaldson, RN
Erin is challenged to care for many different types of patients during her shift, caring for all ages of pediatric patients with various needs.
Erin recently cared for a girl who has a seizure disorder secondary to the removal of a tumor from her frontal lobe several years ago. She was in the hospital for a weeklong EEG telemetry recording. The patient had to stay in her room, connected to the monitoring equipment continuously. Erin worked very hard to meet not only the patients needs, but also the needs of the family, always with a smile and ease. She eagerly answered any and all questions and cheerfully greeted all those she met. She exudes a professional competence that immediately gave the patients family comfort during this stressful time. She is clearly well-respected by her peers and the multidisciplinary staff of the unit.
Erin helped the patient with her arts and crafts, suggesting tasks or activities. She even helped with the sign that got the patients name up on the new construction girders she could see from her hospital window. Erin had the activity staff come down to visit because the patient couldnt leave her room to attend any of the events in the hospital.
Erin explained all the procedures to her, always making the effort to let her have as many choices as she could.
Erin is certainly a gem and a great example of compassion and caring. She demonstrates all the qualities that make her a tribute to her profession.
Christine Melillo, RN • Rehabilitation Unit • James A. Haley VA Hospital, Tampa, Fla.Christine Melillo, RN
Chris always goes above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service within a unique, challenging rehabilitation program. She is extremely motivated and willing to do whatever is necessary to improve the lives of all the patients she treats. Her cheerful personality, smile and positive attitude are contagious — certainly a healing power for all those who are blessed to have her as their nurse or co-worker. She maintains excellent communications, and as a weekend-only nurse, she does a fabulous job of communicating to the entire treatment team any concerns, issues or observations she has made for specific patients or the program in general. Chris even has come in or called in for discussion of program issues that were highlighted by her experiences or could be implemented by her on weekends.
Chris truly sees the whole picture. In rehab, it takes a whole team, including nursing, physicians and rehab therapists. She is not afraid to wear many hats and jump in whenever needed. She thinks outside of the box, using creative approaches to increase patients participation in productive, meaningful activities during their free time. She encourages participation in recreation and leisure activities. Chris has been known to have heart-to-heart discussions with patients about sensitive issues, raising their awareness and interpersonal trust. She has been known to sit and “be there” by simply watching a movie with patients who are lonely or depressed after injury, providing them with comfort and understanding while letting them know they are not alone.
Chris became aware of a former patients downward spiral because of increased alcohol use and initiated a potentially life-saving intervention such as a wellness check by law enforcement when he was in crisis. Another time, she spent a great deal of time talking to a patient about sexuality after injury, specifically helping him figure out the right timing after injury to approach intimacy issues with his wife. His injury had resulted in separation while he stayed in Tampa for rehab and she returned home to work and care for their young child. Other times, she has donated her tickets for University of South Florida baseball games to enable patients to enjoy community events and feelings of “normalcy” after severe brain injuries.
Chris regularly presents information, education and options for achieving their treatment goals and enjoys taking them out into the community to give them “real world” experiences. In the dynamic community setting, she triumphs as a mentor, knowing the importance of the real world as a classroom for rehab patients to transfer the skills learned in therapies into routines and habits that further their independence and successes. She regularly demonstrates this care, compassion and knowledge as a nurse, team member and mentor while maintaining the patients dignity, trust and independence.
Vehid Basic, RN, CGRN • Endoscopy • Highland Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.Vehid Basic, RN
By his own admission, Vehid generally is reserved and prefers being in the background rather than front-and-center. He likes being places where things happen — and he takes a lot of pictures to document the occasions — but he doesnt want to be the focal point.
Imagine then his reaction when his name was announced as the DAISY Award winner, surrounded by his colleagues and friends from the Highland Endoscopy Center.
And that was before his mother, sister and daughter entered the Collins Auditorium to present him with a bouquet of roses and congratulatory hugs.
“Im still shaken,” said Vehid, who has been employed at Highland Hospital since 2006. “Im glad I was recognized, but anyone in my department is worthy of such an honor.”
Its difficult to hide Vehids efforts these past few months. In addition to being a constant support for patients in the HEC, the day he received the DAISY Award, Vehid worked until after 12:30 a.m. and then returned for another shift at 6:30 a.m. He helped secure an oscillatory machine and vest to assist a preteen boy with cystic fibrosis in Croatia he never met. He drummed up support, both material and financial, from friends and colleagues at Highland and in the community and since has begun assisting another Croatian boy in a similar situation.
“Thats why Im here,” said Vehid, a former teacher and native of Bosnia. “The purpose of nursing is to care, to be altruistic.”
Comments from colleagues and patients support that sentiment. One RN wrote that Vehid “makes people/patients his No. 1 priority,” and another RN wrote “he establishes immediate rapport with patients and families” and that “when another opportunity (to help) knocks on Vehids door, hell be ready to help.” Many of the nurses who gathered to celebrate Vehids award referred to him as “an asset to the department” and said the DAISY honor “couldnt have gone to a more deserving nurse.”
And yet Vehid immediately starts pointing out everyone elses contributions. He recalled being pleased to have met the Barnes family, who established the DAISY Award in memory of their son, Patrick. Of course, he took a picture of himself with them and remembers them as “normal and kind people.” Their story prompted him to search on Google for more information about the disease that took Patrick Barnes life. Vehid carries a little notebook with him and always jots down reminders of things he wants to know more about. He loves learning and is studying to earn his BSN.
“Ive never seen a work ethic like his,” said HEC Nurse Manager Pat Forrester, RN, BSN, MS, CGRN. “He gives his personal best every minute of every day and with every interaction with a patient. Vehid is supportive of patients and staff. He never wavers from what hes been given to do and what he decides to do.
“Hes a rock, and Im honored to have him on my team.”
Miranda Miller, RN, ADN • SICU • The Christ Hospital in CincinnatiMiranda Miller, RN
The nominator received a report from Miranda about a patient who is a rare type of patient here in the SICU. The adult patient had the mental capacity of a very young child. Miranda was nothing short of spectacular with this patient.
It was easy to see when Miranda introduced me to the patient that she was very comfortable with Miranda and sad to see her go. I found out the coloring books the patient was enjoying were bought by Miranda from the gift shop. It made the patient so happy and comfortable in what must have been a very scary time for her.
Miranda also took the time to find suitable movies and music for her to enjoy. The patient had brought a doll with her to the hospital. Miranda included her “baby doll” in all the assessments and tests, listening to the dolls lungs to ease the patient into it. She even made a makeshift bottle out of a sample cup so the patient could feed the doll.
Carolyn Paget, RN, • 4 South • NCH Healthcare System in Naples, Fla.Carolyn Paget, RN
Carolyn is a very compassionate nurse. She not only takes care of [patients] medical needs, but also their mental and financial needs. Carolyn is a certified pastoral nurse. She spends many hours with her patients and other patients on the unit giving them the spiritual support needed for themselves and their families during a very difficult time in their life.
A patient on her unit recently was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia; this diagnosis requires a patient to be hospitalized for long periods. There also are a lot of hidden costs and long periods of recovery at home. This patient was working part time at Publix, taking care of her mother and living in an older trailer in a trailer park. She was paying $32 a week to keep her insurance. She had not worked in more than two months. What she had in her bank account came to $400. Between the social service department and getting all her disability paperwork completed, she would not be eligible for any money until September.
Carolyn was kind enough to give her, out of her own pocket, $100. Maybe not a lot for some, but to her it was a gift from heaven. She gave the money anonymously, saying it was from the staff on 4 South. Carolyn then planned to ask some of her friends and family for contributions to send to the patient anonymously.
Athenia Johnson, RN • Mercy Health — Fairfield Hospital in Cincinnati
Athenias patient was 44 years old and had just been told she had only 48 to 72 hours to live. Her last wish was to go home with her family to Manchester, Ky., which was a 3½-hour drive away. Sadly, her insurance company said the transport was “not an emergency,” but it was an emergency to her. Athenia was determined to get this patient to Kentucky.
Athenia told the patients sister that morning, “If I were you, Id just put her in my car and take her home,” and the patients sister asked, “is this possible?” Athenia told the family if they wanted it she would make it happen. As the patients brothers car was padded with pillows and blankets and supplies to get her to Kentucky, the nominator thought about how lucky this family was to have a nurse who was willing to think outside the box to do what is best for her patient. There was not a dry eye around; everyone was touched by what was being done for this patient.
That evening, Athenia called the family. They reported the young lady had a good drive home, and they expressed to Athenia how thankful they were that she had been her nurse that day. Thanks to Athenia, this young lady was able to die quietly at home with her family at her side.
Athenia truly loves caring for her patients. Athenia forms very close bonds with her patients and her families. What she did that day was one of the most compassionate things the nominator had ever seen, and it will not be forgotten.
Allie Osborne, RN, BSN • Pediatrics • Athens (Ga.) Regional Medical Center
Allie consistently gives her undivided attention and devotion to each patient. However, the medical center recently had a family for which Allie went above and beyond her nursing responsibilities. Allies unit took a patient as a transfer from NICU several weeks ago, and Allie and several of the other nurses immediately bonded not only with the newborn, but also with the family. The patient ended up staying on the unit for a very long time because of complications. Needless to say, it was a trying experience for the new family. Allie helped organize a night out for the parents and collected donations from the unit to give them a gift basket. She also volunteered to baby-sit for the patient after her shift while the parents went on the date. This is only one example of what makes Allie an amazing nurse, compassionate friend and role model. She truly is exceptional. Allie even authored a beautiful poem for the family:
She came into this world so innocent and sweet,
With tiny little hands and tiny little feet.
It came as quite a shock when she first arrived,
But since the day she was born youve been steadfast by her side.
She came into this world early and the first months will have its trials,
But its no doubt with you for parents, her life will be filled with smiles.
Shell soon be making progress, by leaps and by bounds.
Shell no longer be weighed in ounces; shell soon be weighed in pounds.
Because she decided to come early, rather than come late,
We think her mommy and daddy could use a dinner date.
Youve done so much for her already and because she dearly loves you,
Its time for her proud parents to have a night out just for two.
These are nurses orders, because we love you so.
This Friday night at 6, out to dinner you will go!
We wont take no for an answer, any refusing will be in vain.
On Friday night at 6, let us love on Andie Jane!