Schneck Medical Center presents annual awards to staff members

The DAISY winners have blossomed into extraordinary nurses, and the BEE winners have made individual contributions to help their team meet common goals.

On Monday in an outdoor courtyard at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, the hospital conducted its annual ceremony to present the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and BEE Awards.

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes by members of his family. He died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a little known but not uncommon autoimmune disease.

DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The care Barnes received 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.

It has grown into a meaningful recognition program embraced by health care organizations across the world, said Amy Pettit, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer for Schneck.

The DAISY Nurse Leader Award also is presented to shine a light on the managers and others who do not typically have direct patient care as part of their work.

The Be Extraordinary Every Day Award was developed at Schneck 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.

Nominations for the awards are submitted by staff, families and patients, and committees review the blinded nominations to determine the recipients.

The awards ceremony is held during National Nurses Week, which is May 6 to 12 each year, concluding on Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The 19th century nurse is credited with being the founder of modern nursing.

Schneck’s 2022 DAISY Award recipients are Deena Harriman, Kenze Clark, Lizzie Vogel and Anita Reecer.

A home care registered nurse who has worked at Schneck for 16 years, Harriman brings vast knowledge and experience to the home services team and stays active in assisting with care even when a patient transitions to hospice care.

“I feel it’s extremely important for her to know that she is a great nurse and that she has and is making a difference in each one of us who works with her. She makes us better nurses,” the nomination reads. “You don’t stop being a nurse when you retire the badge. For those nurses like Deena, it’s instilled in her, it’s part of her, and I hope she feels she has done a great job.”

Harriman said she was amazed by those comments.

“I really, really appreciate it because I love what I do, and one of the reasons I went to college was to become a nurse to do this job, so I’m very thankful that I get to do that,” she said.

Clark and Vogel are RNs in the critical care unit. Vogel started at Schneck in December 2019, while Clark has been there since January 2021.

The family of a patient admitted to the CCU under dire circumstances submitted the nomination for Clark.

“We knew that the prognosis wasn’t good, but because of Kenze’s genuine care and concern for her patient, our experience at Schneck was as positive and uplifting as one could ask,” the nomination reads. “Kenze was completely accessible and approachable, always willing to answer a question or a concern. Her knowledge of critical patient care was obvious. … When you have a nurse who is as loving and caring as Kenze, you really have a daisy.”

Clark, who has been a nurse for four years, said the award meant a lot to her.

“It is nice to definitely be recognized because I feel like we always put our best foot forward regardless,” she said. “I think it’s just super cool that we have this award and it gets recognized because I think all of my coworkers, including everyone here, definitely gives it their all.”

A CCU coworker nominated Vogel for what she did for a COVID patient. The man was on a ventilator, and his family left a devotional book at his bedside for staff to read to him daily and also some encouraging Bible verses for him.

Vogel left comforting Bible verses near the man’s bed, and that inspired her coworkers to do the same thing.

“When the daughter was updated, she broke down in tears and was so very appreciative of the gesture from Lizzie,” the nomination reads.

When the family decided to terminally extubate the man, they gathered around the bed and read the Bible verses prior to his final breath.

“It brought such a sense of peace and comfort for the family,” the nomination says. “It’s an awesome feeling in the dark world of COVID to pay it forward from that first patient, spreading God’s faith and love to others that need it, too, and Lizzie did just that in such a selfless manner.”

Vogel said she doesn’t do her job to get recognized, but it was nice to be awarded.

“Some days, it just feels like we are going through the motions, and other days, you just really have those patients that you feel connected to and really want to do something extra for,” she said. “Especially with COVID going on, it was some difficult times, and everybody banded together, especially all of the nurses up in the CCU. Everybody had each other’s backs.”

Reecer, a registered nurse in wound care, was recognized alongside BEE Award winner Brenda Sheldon, who also works in wound care.

A patient wasn’t able to make it to an appointment because she was home alone due to family issues, was in severe pain and unable to walk or get off of the couch and didn’t have transportation. She allowed Sheldon to call emergency medical services so an ambulance could take her to the hospital. There, she received care from Reecer, who shared living and transportation options.

After the appointment, Reecer took the patient to the lobby, where she thought a family member of friend was going to pick her up. But no one showed up.

As Sheldon was leaving work, she learned about the patient’s status. Then she and Reecer took her to the emergency department.

“Anita agreed to stay with the patient on her own time while the patient was in the ED so that the nurse taking care of the patient knew what was going on, so that the patient would not be left alone,” Pettit said in sharing the nomination. “Thank you both for what you did.”

Sheldon said receiving the award with Reecer was special because they have been best friends for 35 years and Reecer plans to retire this year.

“It was really an honor to get to have this together with her,” Sheldon said. “I really feel like it’s an honor to work at Schneck.”

The DAISY Nurse Leader Award went to Karen Sutton, manager of home and hospice services.

The pandemic has affected the department emotionally, spiritually and financially, but Sutton has done her very best to show the glass half-full rather than the glass half-empty.

“Emotionally, Karen is always willing to provide a smile, a funny story, a hug or even willing to pitch in and see patients if needed. She never fails to feed us homemade cakes and goodies if she feels our morale is getting low,” the nomination reads.

“Spiritually, Karen is a calm spirit with a genuine soul,” the department said. “We can tell by her actions that God leads her steps and her words.”

Financially, Sutton helped a coworker who was going to be late one day when the car her son was driving had engine failure. Sutton allowed her to borrow a vehicle for three months.

“Her selfless generosity saved me at least $3,000 in rental fees,” the woman stated. “Karen has been a godsend to me during the holiday time. Her generosity saved my kids’ and my grandbabies’ Christmas. Karen truly humbles me on a daily basis. She is the epitome of selfless love, generosity and pure kindness.”

Sutton, who has worked at Schneck since 1996 and been in home care since 2003, became emotional upon hearing the comments.

“I feel like our team is family, and just to hear how they feel about me is very special,” she said. “I just appreciate them so much. We have a great team. It just means a lot.”

Other BEE Award winners were Betsy Christensen, Martha Carney and Dr. Elton Chambers.

Christensen has been a translator at Schneck since March 2020. With the large Hispanic community in Seymour, the coordinated services department said she and the other translators have made a huge difference in patient care.

“Betsy always shows up with a smile on her face. She is so kind to each patient,” the nomination reads. “She says all with a cheerful tone and smiling eyes.”

As a staff member went to a room to release a patient, she had to reschedule an appointment due to a timing issue.

“Instead of sitting in silence or only speaking to me in English, Betsy included the patient in our conversation. It was a wholesome moment,” the nomination says. “I think all of our translators should be recognized, but Betsy really goes above and beyond with each interaction, whether it be with office staff or patients or their families.”

When she’s translating for a family, Christensen said she always thinks of her own family and how it could be one of them in the hospital.

“I love being able to help make them feel at ease,” she said. “I know how hard it is for what the family is going through, so I want to somehow ease that and help them communicate.”

Carney, a receptionist for Schneck Primary Care, was recognized for helping a cancer patient receive proper medication, organizing a food collection for a staff member who was facing a grave diagnosis, planning birthday parties to celebrate staff members, decorating the office to make it cheery for staff and patients and assisting with community events.

“Our patients love her. Our staff loves her,” the nomination reads. “She is one of the captains of our ship and does all without even being asked.”

Chambers, who has been a hospitalist for 10 years, was nominated for helping stabilize a critically ill and unstable patient and pausing to pray with the family.

“What really touched my heart the most was his continued calm presence in front of the family,” the nominator stated. “His encouragement for all of them to be there and to pray, I felt such a strong spiritual presence in the room all night, and I want all of you to know what an amazing physician Dr. Chambers is. He put his patient and the patient’s family before himself and his family.”

Chambers said he is a small part of what happens at Schneck.

“I think it’s hard for the person who’s not in the hospital, who doesn’t work in a hospital, hasn’t been in the hospital a lot just to understand how much goes on in the background,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but really, there’s so much more. It’s a whole team effort.”