J. Patrick Barnes had survived Hodgkin’s disease twice before waking up one morning with blood blisters in his mouth.
He was admitted to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where he was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
Just two months prior, he and his wife, Tena, had their first child.
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After spending eight weeks at the cancer center, Barnes died in late 1999. He was 33.
While there, his father, Mark Barnes, said the family “experienced the best of nursing.”
Just days after Patrick died, the family talked about what they could do to fill the hole in their hearts. They wanted to thank the nurses for their kindness and compassion.
Tena came up with the acronym DAISY, standing for diseases attacking the immune system, and the family filed papers to become a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The DAISY Foundation was created to keep Patrick’s spirit alive.
When Patrick was receiving treatment, his stepmother, Bonnie, noticed the nurses wearing pins, so the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was piloted at the Seattle cancer center. Each recipient receives one of the pins, a certificate and a Healer’s Touch sculpture that’s hand-carved by artists in Zimbabwe.
The award became regarded as a strategic tool for nurse recruitment and retention and was adopted by health care facilities all over the U.S. and beyond, according to daisyfoundation.org.
This year, Schneck Medical Center in Seymour applied for and received a grant from the East Indiana Area Health Education Center to change its annual program to recognize nurses during National Nurses Week.
On Monday afternoon, Schneck’s DAISY Award committee recognized the 22 nominees who met the DAISY Foundation criteria. Staff, families and patients had submitted 41 nurse stories.
From the 22 nominations, the committee reviewed the blind nominations with the DAISY rubric, and four winners were selected: Belinda Bowman, Kaylee Massey, Romy Trueblood and Heidi Wheatley.
“When Patrick was critically ill, our family experienced firsthand the remarkable skill and care nurses provide patients every day and night. Yet these unsung heroes are seldom recognized for the superhuman, extraordinary, compassionate work they do,” Bonnie Barnes said. “The kind of work the nurses at Schneck are called on to do every day epitomizes the purpose of the DAISY Award.”
Amy Pettit, vice president of nursing services and chief nursing officer at Schneck, said the hospital is proud to partner with the foundation.
“We believe we also have extraordinary nurses here at Schneck Medical Center,” she said. “Nurses are heroes every day. It’s important that our nurses know their work is highly valued, and the DAISY Foundation provides a way for us to do that. We hope that the winners wear the DAISY pin proudly.”
Bowman is a registered nurse certified in the obstetrics unit at Schneck. She has worked there for 15 years and has worked in an OB unit for 22 years overall.
In the nomination letter, a young mother said she was at Schneck to deliver a baby, and the family was so excited to meet the newborn that they forgot it was the mother’s birthday.
Bowman went to the hospital’s gift shop to buy snacks, chocolates and other items. She also made a customized card for the woman and returned to the room to sing “Happy Birthday.”
“Taking the time to show the importance of the birthday celebration despite being in labor, sometimes, we overlook those things, but the nursing staff was very thankful that Belinda realized and took the time to do that,” Pettit said while reading the nomination letter.
Bowman said she was called to do that because she has a daughter the same age as the woman.
“It was a special day for her baby, but it was a special day for her, too, and we get so focused on the baby that you kind of forget, ‘Hey, Mom’s got something going on, too,’” she said. “They were just very appreciative and very shocked that they had forgotten, as well. You try to make it a memorable experience for Mom outside of having a baby.”
Knowing someone took notice of her kind actions meant a lot to Bowman.
“Oh, I’m very honored to have received this award,” she said. “I’m so shocked that I can’t think right now. I’m just very honored to have been nominated and to have won. It’s very rewarding.”
Massey is a registered nurse on 3 North and has worked at Schneck for more than two years.
She received two nominations for the DAISY Award. One was from the family of a 90-year-old man who was struggling with pain control.
“He would call out to the nurses station, he wasn’t eating or drinking, difficulty taking his medications, and Kaylee went above and beyond to make sure that the patient was well cared for and he was medicated for pain control,” Pettit said in reading the nomination letter.
Another time, Massey was caring for someone’s great-uncle in his final days of life.
“He was deteriorating, and she advocated for hospice care and really worked with the hospice team to give this patient and his family what he needed,” Pettit read from the nomination letter.
Massey said while the patient wasn’t originally on hospice, she saw he had multiple factors.
“I felt like I needed to be the best patient advocate that I could be and get him to a place where he was comfortable and where he could pass peacefully, and the family was in agreement with that,” she said.
She worked for a few days to make that happen, and the man died peacefully with family by his side.
Being recognized for her work is special to Massey.
“It obviously means a lot to me, but I was very emotional during those couple days because I felt like he still wasn’t where I wanted him to be,” she said. “For it to come full circle, it makes me emotional again to know that the work that I did and the pushing I did with physicians really paid off.”
Wheatley is a registered nurse in the intensive care unit. She has worked at Schneck for 11 years.
Of the three nominations she received for the DAISY Award, one was for being a preceptor and helping during a nurse’s orientation.
“As a new nurse orienting, it’s extremely important to have that great preceptor. It makes all of the difference in the world,” Pettit said.
Wheatley also was recognized for making treat baskets for departments to boost morale during the hospital’s construction project.
“She encouraged everyone to refill the basket and then pay it forward to another department,” Pettit said. “These baskets were passed around the entire month of October, brightening spirits in several different units.”
The third nomination letter said Wheatley is active in precepting new employees and nursing students, noting “she is a great role model for all nursing staff.”
“It’s very exciting, unexpected, but I feel very proud,” Wheatley said of receiving the award. “I am one of the main preceptors in the ICU, so I precept a lot of the new staff coming through. I love making my co-workers feel appreciated.”
Trueblood is a registered nurse in the emergency department.
A fellow nurse’s mentally handicapped 5-year-old brother was brought to the emergency room on two separate occasions because his behavior had become out of control.
While Trueblood wasn’t his nurse either time, the sister said she went above and beyond by sitting down with her brother, listening to him talk and bringing him food from the cafeteria and snacks.
“This was a big deal to him,” Pettit said in reading the nomination letter. “As a 5-year-old, he felt special, and he would say, ‘She’s nice,’ ‘I like her,’ ‘Look what she brought me.’ She also became his friend, and I know she was juggling her different patients and everything that was going on in the emergency department, but she took time for him.”
On the boy’s second time in the ER, Trueblood immediately came to see him.
“His aggression was more escalated at the time, and the family member was not able to calm him down, but when Romy walked in, he calmed right down,” Pettit said.
Trueblood also sat with the boy while the sister left to receive required nursing education.
“I know that she has compassion and love that we as nurses should demonstrate, but I honestly don’t know what we would have done without her,” the woman wrote.
Trueblood said she was happy to help the boy so he could get placed into group therapy and get better.
“Each time he was here with family, he seemed agitated when he came, and I would go in and talk with him, and he would normally calm down, get him some food and let him watch TV,” she said. “He’s usally really good whenever I come in.”
The DAISY Award means a lot to her.
“It’s special because I don’t do it to be nominated for something. I don’t expect that,” Trueblood said. “It means a lot to me knowing that they took the time out of their day to nominate me twice with that.”
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This marks the first year that Schneck Medical Center in Seymour is a participating hospital in the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
Forty-one nurse stories were submitted by staff, families or patients for the DAISY Award. From these submissions, the committee identified 22 nominees that met the criteria to be recognized as a DAISY nominee according to the DAISY Foundation criteria.
From these 22 nominations, the DAISY committee reviewed the blinded nominations with the DAISY rubric, and four winners were selected.
DAISY Award winners: Belinda Bowman, Kaylee Massey, Romy Trueblood and Heidi Wheatley
Other nominees: Bev Anderson, Katie Boswell, Carrie Butcher, Joyce Durnill, Rachel Hoevener, Karen Isaacs, Keilah Jones, Marianne King, Crista Lanning, Colette Mills, Carrie Moore, Sonja Moscrip, Kendra Powell, Julie Rieker, Kache Ross, Teresa Smith, Mary Stuckwisch and Brooke Werskey
For information on the DAISY Award and the DAISY Foundation, visit daisyfoundation.org.