BMH nurse honored with DAISY Award

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Photo above: Beaufort Memorial Collins Birthing Center Director Patti Valentini, right, shows Daisy Award recipient Tiffany Heath the banner created in her honor. Photo by Paul Nurnberg.

Tiffany Heath was just two days into her new job as a labor and delivery nurse in Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s birthing center when a patient went into premature labor and lost her baby.

“All I could do was stand at the bedside and comfort her,” Heath recalled. “It was heartbreaking. It really touched me. That day, I committed myself to taking care of parents who lose a child.”

That was 12 years ago. She has been doing so ever since.

Earlier this year, Heath teamed up with BMH chaplain Ed Morgan to start a Parents’ Bereavement Support Group for mothers and fathers struggling to overcome the grief of losing a child.

Her efforts earned her a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, a national tribute reserved for RNs who go the extra mile to care for patients and their families. 

Hospital administrators and coworkers gathered in the Birthing Center recently to surprise Heath with the award. She was given an engraved vase full of daisies and a hand-carved sculpture titled “A Healer’s Touch.”

“Tiffany is a role model for compassionate nursing,” said Beaufort Memorial Director of Birthing Services Patti Valentini, who nominated Heath for the award. “She has always been involved in the care of mothers who have lost their babies, but this past year, she has worked passionately with Chaplain Morgan to bring a parents’ bereavement support group to Beaufort County.”

One of the first parents to join the group was Tonya Doctor, who lost her only child this spring. Born four months early, Zahir, passed away just days before he would have celebrated his first birthday.

“It’s been very helpful to talk with people who have gone through the same thing and hear how they cope,” said Doctor, of Yemassee. “It was comforting to know I was going to make it through this.”

The support group meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month in classroom 350-C of Beaufort Medical Plaza, 989 Ribaut Road.

Before launching the program, Heath went through two days of special training to learn how to support patients who have lost a child. She worked alongside Morgan, who served as the hospital staff chaplain for three years and a pastor for 35.

“Losing a child is an experience you never get over,” Morgan said. “But life goes on, as hard as that sounds. We try to provide a means to get past the grief and begin healing.”

The DAISY Award was created in 1999 by a Seattle couple as a way to honor the nurses who took care of their son before he died. It has since been adopted by healthcare facilities all over the world. Anyone can nominate a BMH nurse for the DAISY Award. Applications are available throughout the hospital.

For more information on the Beaufort Memorial Parents’ Bereavement Support Group, call Heath at 843-522-5176.

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