Nine Schneck employees receive awards for ‘extraordinary, compassionate care’


As a nurse, Lyda Ritz monitors patients and administers medications to make them feel better physically when they are sick or injured.

But she also knows they need more than medicine to improve.

Ritz talks to her patients in a friendly and caring voice to calm their fears and explains difficult things in a way they can understand. She also prays for their speedy recovery.

"I know patients come to the hospital for medical care, and I believe in order to care for the body, I have to care for all my patients holistically, treating their heart, mind, body and souls," she said.

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Ritz has spent nearly a decade working in the intensive care unit at Schneck Medical Center tending to patients who need the highest level of care.

"To be a nurse is such an honor because people instill all their trust in you in their weakest times and look to you for knowledge, education and help to improve their current situation," she said. "I enjoy every aspect of nursing, but the best part is when I feel someone’s smile in my heart. I know then that their needs are met and I have done my best."

On Monday, Ritz and four other nurses received the national DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) award during a special ceremony in recognition of the extraordinary, compassionate care they provide to patients daily.

Other winners were Tracy McKinney with Schneck Hospice, Carla Wright in patient services, Kelly Turner in palliative care and Heather Woods, who received the DAISY Leadership Award for her work as a nurse manager on the intensive care unit/medical adult acute care unit.

Also honored this year were four non-nursing Schneck staff members who received the inaugural BEE (Be Extraordinary Every Day) award. They were Erika Brown with Schneck Rehabilitation, Chealsy Parr with Schneck Long-Term Care, Peggy Teipen in the emergency department and Kim Bush with Schneck Integrative Medicine.

Those receiving the awards were chosen by a committee that reviewed more than 60 recommendations submitted by staff, families and patients for the DAISY awards and more than 20 nominations for the BEE awards.

"Our nurses and non-nursing team members are heroes every day," said Amy Pettit, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Schneck. "It’s important that our team members know their work is highly valued, and these awards provide a way for us to do that."

Ritz decided to go into nursing after her sister suffered a traumatic brain injury in a horse riding accident.

"Being recognized as a DAISY recipient makes me feel so extremely honored because it’s a reassurance that I am making a difference in other people’s lives that is leaving an impression just like the nurses who cared for my sister left in me," she said.

Listening to what some of her staff members said in their nominations, Woods said she was uplifted knowing she has played a role in helping other nurses become better at their jobs.

She has worked her entire nursing career at Schneck, first as an ICU nurse and then moving to the emergency department. In 2014, she took on leadership duties by becoming a nursing supervisor.

"I have always loved caring for people," she said. "I have learned so much being a nurse. It has increased opportunities, learning and experiences for me."

Woods was surprised and honored to receive the DAISY award.

"It was a humbling experience," she said.

One of the qualities that makes nurses like Woods stand out is their desire to improve and be able to change and adapt to every situation.

"Nursing is always a challenge, and patient care changes every day," she said.

This year has been one of the most challenging for nurses who are on the front line in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her position, Woods has kept other nurses up to date with the quickly evolving information on how to treat their patients and keep themselves safe.

"I am always impressed with the nurses I work with because they are so resilient," she said. "They just went with the flow and delivered amazing patient care."

Woods may not be by a patient’s bedside often, but her dedication to the field of nursing has not gone unnoticed by her peers.

"My responsibility now is taking care of my staff," she said. "I absolutely love being able to support them and provide the tools they need to deliver exceptional care every day."

Parr works as a certified medical assistant providing quality and compassionate care to those in extended care facilities. She has worked at Schneck since 2016 when it acquired Jackson Park Physicians.

From a young age, she demonstrated a passion for serving and caring for others. But receiving an inaugural Schneck BEE award was very unexpected, she said.

"No one ever expects to be honored for doing something to help someone else," she said. "For so many of us, this is just part of who we are as caregivers to our community."

Parr is proud to be a valued member of a team that works to make the community stronger and healthier.

Working with the geriatric population is an important part of that mission, she said.

"I truly love being a part of that commitment to our community," she said.

All levels of nursing require compassion, but working in hospice care requires the highest level of empathy, respect and dignity for terminally ill patients.

Having witnessed nurses provide that kind of care for her mother, McKinney felt called to do the same.

"Those nurses made such a difference, and I wanted to make that kind of a difference for someone also," she said. 

She served as a licensed practical nurse for 15 years and has been a registered nurse for the past three and a half years at Schneck.

"What I love about being a nurse is knowing that I’ve made a difference, relieving symptoms and providing the physical and emotional comfort and support they need," she said.

McKinney was humbled to receive a DAISY award.

"There are so many awesome nurses out there who are also deserving of this award," she said.

As the palliative care coordinator at Schneck, Turner works with patients diagnosed with serious illnesses, including COVID-19.

Her experiences this year with the virus have changed how she does her job but have not changed how much she cares for her patients.

"Part of my job is making sure our COVID patients and their families stay connected during their hospitalization," she said.

She coordinates virtual visits between patients and family members along with video updates from physicians.

"The challenge is watching the patients and their families suffer when dealing with this horrible virus," she said.

When her DAISY nomination letter was read out loud at Monday’s ceremony, Turner said she knew it came from a family member of one her patients who lost their battle with COVID.

"Learning of the impact I made with this individual is one of the most significant experiences of my nursing career," she said.

Turner has been a nurse for 12 years, nine of which have been at Schneck. She also worked for Schneck Hospice and as a medical/surgical nurse at the hospital.

"I love being a nurse because it’s a career that is always evolving. I am the type of person who needs to be challenged, who loves to learn and make a difference in the daily lives of the patients I come in contact with," she said.

She also appreciates the camaraderie shown in the nursing field and at Schneck.

"I know that no matter what situation I face, there will always be a nurse who has my back," she said.

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Schneck Medical Center’s 2020 DAISY award winners

Tracy McKinney, Schneck Hospice; Lyda Ritz, intensive care unit; Carla Wright, patient services; Kelly Turner, palliative care; Heather Woods, ICU/MAACU nurse manager

Schneck’s inaugural BEE (Be Extraordinary Every Day) award winners

Erika Brown, Schneck Rehabilitation; Chealsy Parr, Schneck Long-Term Care; Peggy Teipen, emergency department; and Kim Bush, Schneck Integrative Medicine

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About the DAISY Award

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired the award as a unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

About the BEE Award

The BEE (Be Extraordinary Every Day) award was developed at Schneck Medical Center to honor and recognize the care team that supports nursing staff and works closely with them to provide patients and families with the compassion and care they need.


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