As a nurse in Beaufort Memorial’s Intensive Care Unit, Sabine Hershberger understands the stress patients and their families experience in the face of a serious illness. Offering them comfort and compassion has become part of her job.
Recently Sabine was honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses for showing exceptional kindness to a critically ill patient and her husband and children.
Sabine was nominated for the award—a national tribute reserved for RNs who go above and beyond the call of duty—by Alexandra Lepionka, whose mother was cared for by Sabine while dying of lung cancer.
“From the start, we all appreciated Sabine for her openness when answering our questions,” Alexandra wrote in the nomination form. “She gave us clear and compassionate feedback without providing false hope or delivering personal judgment as to what we as a family should be thinking or feeling.”
The family also appreciated that Sabine, who had spent the better part of her youth in Germany, was able to speak to them in their native language.
“In spite of the distressing nature of our situation, Sabine’s infectious smile and willingness to engage with us on such a personal level meant that we still had occasion to achieve the kind of lighthearted atmosphere my mother would have enjoyed and encouraged had she been able,” Alexandra wrote. “More importantly, she seemed to understand when we needed privacy and when it gave us pleasure to share our memories with her.”
During the family’s long vigil, Sabine made sure they had something to eat and went to the trouble of moving an extra recliner into the room so both the 17-week pregnant Alexandra and her father could rest as needed.
“Her obvious appreciation for my mother, whom she had the opportunity to get to know in the time before our arrival, and her dedication to us in those final hours left us secure in the knowledge that Mama spent her last nights in the company of a kind, attentive person, who did everything possible to make her feel comfortable and cared for,” Alexandra wrote. “For this, we thank you from the heart, Sabine.”
Last week, in a surprise ceremony, Sabine was presented with a trophy titled, “A Healer’s Touch,” a hand-carved sculpture created by artists of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.
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.