They’re the unsung heroes of the medical profession. Caring, compassionate and always on call, nurses are central to the patient experience, but seldom get credit for their steadfast service.
The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was established in 1999 to recognize the “super-human” work nurses do every day at the bedside. Beaufort Memorial Hospital honored one of its own this week with the national tribute for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Laura Hawkins, an RN in the hospital’s fifth floor oncology unit, had spent weeks caring for a 31-year-old Marine dying of esophageal cancer. As he continued to deteriorate, he became distressed about how it would affect his 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
“He was afraid they were going to forget him,” said Hawkins, the mother of a 7-year-old girl. “I can’t imagine not being there for my daughter as she grows up. I wanted to do something to make him feel better.”
The Bluffton resident found an online company that makes plush “Daddy Dolls” to help children of deployed soldiers cope with the stresses of separation. The 12-inch pillow features the image of the father dressed in uniform.
“He had been showing me pictures of his kids,” Hawkins recalled. “So one day, I asked him to email me a picture of himself in uniform.”
With the photo in hand, Hawkins went to work on her plan. She collected donations from a half-dozen nurses in the unit and called the company to place the order. When they told her it would be six weeks before she received delivery, she panicked.
“He didn’t have that long,” she said. “I explained the situation and they agreed to rush the order. I got the dolls 10 days later.”
Grateful to have something to leave his children, the patient gave them the gift days before he passed away in March.
The hospital surprised Hawkins with the DAISY Award this week during the middle of her shift. They brought in her family and presented her with an engraved vase full of daisies and a trophy titled, “A Healer’s Touch,” a hand-carved sculpture created by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.
“We began participating in the DAISY Award program three years ago to recognize the amazing things our nurses do,” said Julie Schott, a department director and the nurse who oversees the DAISY Award program for BMH. “In typical fashion, Laura didn’t want to take credit for what she had done for her patient. She said it was a team effort.”
By coincidence, Beaufort Memorial received recognition of its own this week for its nurse-friendly environment. The hospital was awarded the coveted Pathway to Excellence designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center — the largest and most respected nurse credentialing organization in the world, and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association.
BMH is the only hospital in South Carolina to have achieved the distinction for following practices and policies that create an ideal work place for nurses.
“When patients are admitted to the hospital, it’s for 24-hour nursing care,” said Karen Carroll, Beaufort Memorial’s chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services. “The care and nurturing they provide is so important to creating a positive patient experience.”
BMH recognized for quality of nursing care
Beaufort Memorial Hospital became the first hospital in South Carolina to earn the Pathway to Excellence designation, a national honor bestowed to medical centers that create work environments where nurses can flourish in their practice.
Sponsored by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, the Pathway to Excellence program is designed to help hospitals attract and retain skilled nurses by creating a positive workplace, and thus improve the quality of patient care.
“Beaufort Memorial has demonstrated its commitment to supporting nurses and their practice,” said Ellarene Duis-Sanders, chair of the ANCC’s Commission on Pathway to Excellence.
“If nurses are happy and satisfied with their practice, quality of care will be top-notch,” said Trish Deems, director of Beaufort Memorial’s Education Department and coordinator of the Pathway to Excellence project.