Joan Horton

Joan Horton

Joan Horton, RN

Emergency Department
The University of Kansas Hospital
Kansas City, Kansas
United States

The DAISY Award recognizes the unsung heroes who walk among us. That is, our nurses. One of our nurses recognizes the unsung heroes who walk among our patients. This nurse goes above and beyond to honor patients who have served in the military.
Joan Horton is an experienced Emergency Nurse. She knows that patients who walk or roll through the Emergency Room doors are at a significant disadvantage. Not only are they sick or injured, but some come from underserved populations, they may be homeless, frightened, scared, alone, in pain, the list goes on. To make matters worse, one of the first things we do is take their clothes away. So much dignity is lost in a matter of minutes! Joan knows how to bridge the gap.
Although Joan’s first priority is to make sure every patient is stable, she doesn’t just physically assess her patients. She listens…..almost with her heart. And her heart almost always recognizes patients with a military background. It might be the ‘yes ma’am’ that she hears when she asks if they are taking medications or maybe the fact that they look her directly in the eye during the conversation. Sometimes she sees a tattoo. That is when she knows that on another day, this patient was well and dedicated to serving our country. Joan understands military service and sacrifice. And she shows her respect for it.
Joan carries ‘thank you’ cards for military members. Joan has these made at her own expense and rarely mentions them to her coworkers. Although small, the card carries a powerful message that acknowledges the individual’s fight for the freedom of others who haven’t had to fight for their own freedom. The card also expresses gratitude for the individual’s service to country.
The level of respect that this act shows is huge! It immediately helps overcome some of the “disadvantages” the sick or injured patient feels in the moment. The card shows the patient that Joan sees them not just as a sick person worthy of her caring and compassion, but as a hero worthy of her respect. To me, it signifies the beginning of a special bond that I know Joan’s unsung hero patients feel toward her.