A young man admitted to the ICU toeing the line into the afterlife was assigned to a nurse with a fiery spirit, an uncanny ability to give everything to her patient and a depth of knowledge that can only be admired. The patient was in bed with his abdomen surgically opened and intestines protruding beneath the wrap of antimicrobial film. Bleeding from his ears, his mouth, his nostrils, the sides of his open abdomen, his body struggled to maintain a viable blood pressure, heart rate and a rhythm compatible with life.
The nurse responsible for his care, Tara Dandridge, jumped into action as soon as she walked into that room and began a mad dash employing clinical and critical thinking skills that all nurses wish they could draw upon in dire situations. Working tirelessly for hours, administering medications, constantly assessing and re-assessing leading to planning and re-planning in a seemingly interminable cycle of repetition, all in the hope of giving the patient the best chance to return to the man she met 18 hours prior to this crisis when she responded to a call on the medical/surgical floor.
He was a young man who was, vibrant, polite and respectful despite being petrified. A man who held her hand and said “Help me! I don’t want to die!” imploring, “Don’t leave me!” Tara promised him she would do nothing short of her best, what she did not know was that the limits of whatever she imagined her best to be, would be stretched way beyond belief.
In the midst of this clinical chaos, Tara received a call that her Nana had passed away back in Arkansas. Besides her amazingly beautiful 4-year old daughter, her love for Nana remains unrivaled. Yet, in such a devastatingly painful frame of mind, at a time when she undeniably, would rather have been elsewhere, she continued to fight for her patient because his life was dependent upon her direct efforts.
Unfortunately, the patient could not be saved and somehow,Tara found it in her to mourn with the family, serving as a beacon of hope and a place of comfort for them even while her heart had been crushed twice in one day because she remembered the patient very clearly from the day before when he clung to her knowing innately that he could trust her with his life even before anyone knew what would happen to him.
Nurses are remarkable people, but Tara transcended all imaginable expectations of what remarkable ought to resemble. She personifies the essence of the DAISY Award for her true act of selflessness on this day, finding within her a level of love, compassion and a fighting spirit that allowed her patient to pass on with dignity and remain a pillar for those that loved him while painfully aware of her own hurt and all the unfinished conversations and pending visits with her Nana that suddenly ceased. It truly is an honor to recommend this special nurse for the DAISY Award.