By TRAVIS HANDY
The co-founders of the DAISY Foundation paid a visit to LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski to take part in honoring this month’s winner of the DAISY Award for making a profound difference in the life of a patient. The award is presented monthly to nurses in hospitals across nine countries.
Founded in 2000 by Mark and Bonnie Barnes, the DAISY Foundation, is the outcome of a tragic situation involving Mark’s son, Patrick and his brief fight with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little-known, but not uncommon, autoimmune disorder.
“Patrick was a terrific guy,” said Bonnie. “He was 33 years old. He and his wife, Tina… had just given us our first grandchild six weeks before he woke up with some blood blisters in his mouth. He went to the doctor, was admitted to the hospital because in addition to blood blisters he had no platelets. We then embarked on an eight-week journey—so fast, he was gone. We had no idea this was going to happen or it was even a risk.
“When this kind of thing happens it’s this time of such intense emotion, when every day you’re dealing with the highs and the lows learning and thinking, ‘oh my gosh, what’s going on here,’” Bonnie said. “All this uncertainty, and suddenly it’s over. Now what do we do? We knew what to do during those eight weeks, but we didn’t know what to do when he died.”
Bonnie said after Patrick’s death, they kept coming back to the nurses and the care they delivered, and not just on Patrick’s behalf, but also the kindness shown to them by the nurses caring for him. Out of their experience, they created the DAISY Foundation, and along with it, the DAISY award for extraordinary nurses.
“Little did we know when we started this program, that now, thirteen years later, there would be as of today 1,484 healthcare facilities in nine countries honoring their nurses month-in and month-out with the DAISY award,” said Bonnie. “Somewhere around 40,000 nurses have been honored so far, and we know that at least 250,000 nurses have been nominated for the DAISY award so far.”
The Barneses were visiting LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski to join hospital staff in honoring the latest DAISY Award honoree, Debra Lillycrop, RN, who was nominated by a patient whose experience was memorable enough to warrant a heart-felt letter to ask that she be recognized for the difference she made through the excellent care she provided. Lillycrop expressed her gratitude for having been recognized for her actions, but had a very modest reaction to the accolade. She also said she believes it is a great way to make nurses feel appreciated.
“It’s very exciting and very unexpected,” said Lillycrop. “As they said (before), I was just doing my job. I really do feel it’s important (to recognize nurses this way), in the fact that most of the time we only get complaints. People don’t always say ‘thank you,’ and ‘we appreciate your care,’ usually you only get the complaints, so it is nice to get the recognition that you did do something well. But as I said, and like Debby (Dishon, the previous DAISY honoree) said, we’re only doing our jobs.”
Lillycrop has been in the nursing field over 30 years and has worked at LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski over 17 years.
“Nurses take for granted the work they do every day, and they don’t appreciate the tremendous impact that they’re having, not just with what they do clinically, but with the special things they do that make all the difference with patient care,” said Bonnie Barnes. “It’s the compassion and kindness they provide, and the way they deliver their care that makes all the difference, and we just want to make sure that they acknowledge that and that we get the chance to say ‘thank you’ for those very special things.”
After the experience the Barnes family went through, they couldn’t think of what their lives would be like without the nurses who cared for their son, and Bonnie underscored the reason they do the work they do today.
“I don’t know what our lives would be like now if we didn’t have nurses,” said Bonnie. “They got us through those eight weeks and they got us through the next 13 years. And they’ll get us through the rest of our lives. It is so meaningful to us, and we had no idea that this was going to take off the way it has, so it’s tremendously rewarding.”