East 8 Sunshine Team at UC Davis Medical Center

East 8 Sunshine Team

East 8 Sunshine Team at UC Davis Medical Center

East 8 Medical/Surgical Specialty Unit
UC Davis Medical Center
Sacramento, California
United States
Valerie Esty, RN, MSN, East 8; Stephanie Thornton, RN, BSN, CMSRN, East 8; Sarah Soon, RN, BSN, East 8; Gary Gibson, RN, BSN, MPH, Nursing Supervisor; Paige Ver Steeg RN, MSN, Emergency Department

Valerie Esty was caring for a young woman who will be called “Mary”, she was in the final stages of her battle with metastatic uterine cancer. Mary came into the hospital with increased shortness of breath. It became evident as her symptoms continued to worsen, requiring more and more medications to palliate symptoms, that Mary would most likely not leave UC Davis Medical Center. Her fiancé who will be called “Bob” remained by her bedside throughout the battle and was struggling with the idea of eventually leaving the hospital without her. Mary was reported to be a “lover of the sun”. While Valerie was doing her patient rounds, she noticed Mary peacefully sleeping next to her fiancé Bob.  Valerie sat next to them and had a short talk with Bob to see how everything was going. Bob explained that Mary has had a rough time since being admitted, she is on comfort care, is now bedbound, and has struggled to keep her pain under control. Bob has never left her side since she was admitted. Bob said quietly to Valerie, "Did you know that Mary loves the sun? Do you think it would be possible to take her outside to get some sunshine as my gift for her for Valentine's Day?" Valerie without hesitation said, "I will do my best to make this happen". Valerie left the room with tears in her eyes. The difficulty arose in making Bob’s wish come true was that Mary was experiencing intense pain and would have to be transported outside by bed. Valerie talked with Sarah Soon, ANII and asked for help in problem-solving this situation. Another nurse, Stephanie Thornton overheard the conversation and offered to help take Mary and Bob outside by bed. Sarah talked with Gary Gibson, Nursing Supervisor who assisted in figuring out the easiest way to get out of the hospital that would be private enough for the two of them to enjoy the sun. The team finally decided that the best option was to go through the Emergency Department ambulance bay and head over to the area by the water tower. This area was the most private and would give Mary and Bob a sunny area where they could be alone. Sarah contacted Paige Versteeg, RN, Charge Nurse for the ED and asked if the ED nurses would be willing to show Valerie and Stephanie the easiest and fastest way outside the hospital. Paige after hearing the story was very helpful and showed them the fastest way out of the hospital to reach the water tower. Once they finally arrived out in the sun, a UC Davis Police officer assisted Valerie and Stephanie to make sure that all were kept safe and that Mary and Bob had privacy and as much time as possible in the sun. Due to the position of the sun, Valerie and Stephanie found themselves near the Cancer Center "chasing the sun". Each time they found a good spot the nurses stepped back and allowed Mary and her fiancé Bob to have some private moments cuddling in the bed together in the sunshine. As the sun moved Valerie and Stephanie would push the bed further.

The smiles from Mary and Bob as they cuddled under the sun were priceless. This request could have easily been dismissed as "against protocol" but instead this team of extraordinary people looked to find a way to make it happen. The patient and her fiancé were so grateful for this time together. Bob expressed his gratitude to the nurses and staff for helping him give this gift to his fiancé. A few weeks later Mary lost her battle with cancer and Bob had to leave UC Davis without her but was thankful that he had that memory of taking Mary outside in the sun, hopefully giving him some comfort.