I am writing today to nominate a terrific nurse, Heather Child, for the DAISY Award after spending time with her last night taking care of a critically ill patient. A patient was transferred to Coli ICU from a step-down unit with a day-old diagnosis of lung cancer. The patient was extremely short of breath and anxious about her diagnosis and transfer, and had been told by her physician that she would need to start chemotherapy that night in the ICU and would need to be placed on BiPap.
In ICU, we rarely have patients actively receiving chemotherapy, as they are usually too ill to tolerate it – so needless to say, I was not entirely familiar with the steps we would need to take to give this patient these drugs for the first time. Heather called down to the unit and patiently walked me through timely administration of pre-medications, answered my many questions, and came down to the unit totally organized and with all of her supplies in tow to administer the patient’s chemotherapy.
She then – and this is the part that I think truly deserves recognition – spent over forty minutes explaining the chemotherapy medications, their side effects, the patient’s anticipated course of treatment and the way she planned to administer the medications to the tearful and terrified patient and the patient’s daughter. She patiently answered all of their questions, and I saw a great sense of relief wash over both of their faces. They were both able to sleep (which was sorely needed, both of them had not slept in days) while the medications were infusing!
While the drugs were being infused, Heather took the time to teach me about the medications, the patient’s condition, and shared her experiences with that particular type of cancer with me, information which I was then able to share with the patient and her daughter. This not only helped increase my knowledge base, but also greatly alleviated the patient’s fear of the unknown and helped the patient and her daughter to prepare for the busy and stressful day ahead of them.
After Heather left the unit, she took time to tube down to me special oncology supplies that I would need and which were not available to me in my ICU. Heather gave this particular patient and her family the greatest gift a healthcare provider can give a patient: the power of knowledge. In doing so, allowed them to feel somewhat in control of an impossibly difficult and emotional diagnosis. She did for them what I could not do with every anti-anxiety medication ordered for this patient – she heard the patient’s fears, and she empowered the patient to fight them by giving her the information she was desperate for.
I would like to see this Heather Child commended for going above and beyond the call of duty, for exemplifying MERIT values to the letter, for taking the opportunity to teach and to listen—and most of all—for making one patient’s difficult diagnosis and ICU transfer seem manageable at a time when a patient needed some sort of security and comfort. She made a difference in that patient’s life by being truly present with that patient and her family. I am awed and humbled by her grace and kindness.