In its first DAISY Award ceremony on May 7, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Memorial Auditorium, three nurses were honored during the event that was part of a celebration of National Nurses Week, observed annually May 6-12.
According to its website, http://d aisyfoundation.org, the DAISY Award Foundation was formed in November 1999 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.
Barbara Dudenhoeffer (OB/GYN), Army 2nd Lt. Julie Ross (5-East, surgical ward), and Suzanne Birney (7-East, Traumatic Brain Injury unit) were the winners among 34 others nominated for the award, which recognizes nurses for their dedication and commitment to quality care. Dudenhoeffer earned the award for February, Ross for March and Birney for April.
"Any job that allows one to help others is rewarding," said Birney. "I particularly like working in the Traumatic Brain Injury unit because patients invariably stay for an extended period of time, allowing me to get to know the patients and their families."
Ross agreed, saying she finds nursing to be "extremely rewarding because after experiencing the heartache of a patient's illness, you are able to experience their joy at being discharged. "It's then that you truly understand the impact you made on their healing process."
"The most rewarding aspect of my job is helping expectant parents through the trials and tribulations of pregnancy," Dundenhoeffer said. The DAISY award honors those who have gone "above and beyond in giving extraordinary care to patients," explained Christie Ferguson, co-chair of the DAISY committee at WRNMMC. Also honored during the ceremony were Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian nurses at Walter Reed Bethesda nominated for the award.
Joan Loepker-Duncan, co-chair of the DAISY committee, said it was a challenge to name the winners because there were so many "wonderful nominations." She explained, "Many patients and patient family members submitted nominations telling stories how the nursing team members changed their lives or made a real impact on the care that they got."
"The ones [who] were chosen were the ones [who] really brought it back home to what nursing is all about. [They] give you that feeling about why you became a nurse," Loepker-Duncan added.
Created by the DAISY Foundation, the award is presented at hospitals throughout the nation, each recognizing a different nurse for each month. The foundation developed the award to recognize exceptional nursing professionals, such as nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants, according to Ferguson, who works as the clinical nurse manager of the WRNMMC emergency department.
The former Walter Reed Army Medical Center held the first DAISY Award ceremony for a military treatment facility in May 2010, according to Ferguson. "Our goal was to recognize care for wounded warriors - those who have fought for us," she added.
Ferguson said in reviewing nominations for the first Walter Reed Bethesda DAISY award winners, several were hand-written, illustrating the impact nurses make on patients and their families. "In some cases, "there wasn't a dry eye," in the room when committee members were determining the winners, she added.
Mark Barnes, who helped established the DAISY Award Foundation along with other family members in the memory of his son J. Patrick Barnes, presented the awards at the May 7 ceremony at Walter Reed Bethesda. He spoke about the humility of the nurses when they received praise for their compassion, and explained many nurses stated they didn't do anything special, just their job. He told the nurses, "You are truly my personal heroes."
"As we brainstormed what to do in Pat's memory, the one really positive thing we could hold onto from the experience of his eight-week hospitalization was the skillful and amazingly compassionate care he received from his nurses - even when he was totally sedated," Patrick's mother, Bonnie Barnes, explained. "When Pat died, we felt compelled to express our profound gratitude to nurses for the work they do for patients and their families every day. This is the primary mission of The DAISY Foundation," she said.
The Walter Reed Bethesda DAISY award committee is comprised of military and civilian physicians, nurses, corpsmen and medics from both inpatient and outpatient areas, Ferguson explained. Together, they critique candidates based on advocacy, commitment, professionalism, mentorship and teamwork, in addition to their clinical skills and capacity for compassion.