The following three accounts are for Mike Gavigan, an RN in ICU at HF CCH. In reading these stories, the nursing leadership wanted to provide additional information as to why Mike is so deserving of this DAISY Award. The patient and family experience around these stories exemplify holistic and compassionate care that provided an exceptional experience and great memories for the family and patient.
The patient arrived at the ICU in respiratory distress relevant to a diagnosis of cancer and the location of the cancer. This was a new diagnosis with significant progression of cancer. The patient did not wish to be intubated and the physicians, respiratory therapists, and nurses worked to make the patient comfortable by trying different methods of oxygen delivery. They provided exceptional clinical care; however, the team knew that the outcome was not going to be a good one for the patient.
Mike had connected with the family and patient. He wanted to brighten her days and keep her spirits up. He found out that her three favorite holidays were Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. He devised a plan for her to celebrate these holidays. On the first day, he led the team on a “trick or treat” mission, he and the team donned glow sticks and went “trick or treating” in her room. The patient and sisters laughed and enjoyed the impromptu Halloween celebration. On the next day, Mike and the team provided the patient and family with a Thanksgiving celebration. And on the following day…Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, the Christmas celebration was on, complete with lights and a small tree. Mike and the team wanted to keep the patient’s and family’s spirits up. She would be receiving palliative chemotherapy in an attempt to give her a few more days or weeks. Mike wanted to do more. Mike found out that one of her favorite movies was Risky Business and Mike became Tom Cruise in that movie with a white shirt and sunglasses. He replicated a hospital version of one of the most famous scenes from this movie. While keeping his scrub pants on, he sang and danced to “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger. The sisters cheered him on, as did the staff. The patient was smiling and so grateful for this “stage production” in her room.
Unfortunately, the patient did not make it out of the hospital and passed away over the weekend. Each of these celebrations and stage productions were done with the utmost respect for the patient and her family. Her three sisters participated and have some wonderful memories of their sister’s final days as evident by their letters, their comments to leadership, and associates. Mike and his team provided this patient and her family with one last Halloween, one last Thanksgiving, one last Christmas, and a Tom Cruise impersonation. The dedication and commitment of Mike and his leadership of his team made this possible. Mike made this patient’s final days memorable for not only her but also her sisters. This is Mike, he treats all of his patients and families with care and provides guidance and feedback to fellow associates on how to continually improve the patient experience and make connections that result in an exceptional patient experience.
It is unfortunate that we were not able to save this life. The patient had quite a life. However, through Mike’s leadership and connection to this patient and her family, a celebration of life occurred in the ICU at HF CCH. As we reflect upon the DAISY Award and the impetus for this award, many of the memories that Tena Barnes and her family have for the nurses who cared for her husband are evident in the actions that Mike took to care for this patient from a holistic perspective. Those moments of holding a hand, a hug, being there as human leaves the earthly plane, providing support, comfort, and most of all providing an environment of recognition for the life one has lived. Yes, we excelled at the clinical components of care; however, Mike and his team also, and more importantly excelled at the “human connection”, and what that means in our day to day interactions with patients and their families. It is the little things that can bring such joy and memories that last a lifetime and beyond. Mike understands how these “little things” are imperative in a time of crisis, and that his role as a nurse exceeds not only clinical competency but also the human touch and a connection that provide solace and comfort in a time of need.
As we all looked at each other and recanted this story of joy Mike brought to this family and the patient, we thought about how we would like our last days on this earthly plane to be. We would want a nurse like Mike to be with us. Looking for ways to sooth our souls, reminding us of what is important, replenish memories, and provide us with laughter, love, and joy during our darkest hour.
As nurses, we know that death is inevitable and how precious those final days and moments are to provide solace and peace to those left behind. How caring and compassion can ease the transition from life to the death of the human form. Each of us can reflect on losing a loved one and our own eventual destiny. We only hope that if we are in the hospital, hospice, or home care setting with a health care provider that we will have someone like Mike who is willing to support us and our families. Look for ways to ease the pain, remember the good times, provide laughter, provide memories, and celebrate the life we leave behind with our loved ones. Life is so short and each memory is precious. As caregivers, we must realize our impact on the human experience and continually strive to raise the bar to enhance this experience. Mike did this with this patient and their family and Mike does this every day. Mike truly deserves to be the recipient of this DAISY Award not only for this interaction but also for how he interacts with patients and families on a daily basis.