I am grateful for this long overdue opportunity to recognize a nurse who had an impact on my family. In 1987 my dad was hospitalized with abdominal pain. He had surgery shortly afterward, and we felt relief that a gallbladder removal was all that he needed. He was 52 years old and in good health so we expected his recovery to be uncomplicated. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse, and he spent a long time in Critical Care here at Saint John’s with mystified physicians struggling to improve the situation. Mechanical ventilation kept him alive but he was unresponsive and no one could figure out why. Eventually he was moved to 5 South. His incision had opened, which complicated the matter. His mental status was perplexing, and he managed to “escape” a couple of times. His care was complex and difficult and I am sure stressful for the nurses providing his care. In addition to caring for her patient, one nurse in particular cared for his family as well. My mother was 49 years old and could very easily see that she was on the verge of becoming a widow. I was 22 years old, and had a 21 year old sister and 18 year old brother. The stress and anxiety our family experienced was overwhelming. We were camped out at Saint John’s for weeks. We fully expected the death of our dad during those dark days. Eventually, an accidental (miraculous) discovery by Dr. Maier led to a diagnosis of a very rare inherited chromosomal disorder known as Porphyria. Medication was rushed from Chicago and eventually my dad recovered enough to be discharged.
The bond between my parents and the special nurse, Shirley Allison, who provided such compassionate, creative and dedicated care was forged. My parents attended her wedding. She appears in the family photo album, posing alongside my dad and his open abdominal incision. Twenty five years have passed. Two years ago I came to work at Saint John’s. I instantly recognized the special nurse who had long ago held our family together when we were nearly breaking with fear, anticipatory grief and confusion about what was going to happen next. She is still practicing nursing here and using her God-given talents to walk other families through their darkest hours. She is still providing the type of care that will forever be appreciated by my family. She is in a leadership role now, teaching younger nurses how to provide the type of care that is expected in this institution. She is calm, kind and skilled, and treats patients and their families with reverence and integrity no matter how difficult the situation.
My dad passed away 5 years after he left Saint John’s and those five years were a gift. The special nurse that helped us those 5 years can be found serving families and colleagues today. It is my privilege to nominate Shirley Allison for the DAISY Award. She exemplifies the qualities sought in DAISY Award honorees. Thank you for the opportunity to recognize an excellent nurse, and profoundly caring woman for the DAISY Award.