WASHINGTON, D.C. - National Nurses Week is celebrated May 6 through 12 and it is an ideal time to acknowledge nurses and to celebrate their contributions and service in health care as nurses, doctors and collaborative medical teams help patients with diverse needs.
Dr. Bradley Clark is a fellow in pediatric cardiology and works in the Division of Cardiology at Children's National Health System (Children’s National) in the District of Columbia. The Bowie resident was a part of a staff comprised of 18 nurses and 11 multidisciplinary colleagues – including additional physicians, social workers, chaplains and child life specialist – from Children’s National Heart and Kidney Unit (HKU) who were selected as recipients of The DAISY Team Award.
The award recognized the collaborative, nurse-led team’s efforts of going above and beyond the traditional role of nursing to impact the experience of a patient and family, by providing outstanding care with compassion and commitment. The DAISY Team Award ceremony took place at Children’s National on Jan. 21, 2016.
“I think it’s a very prestigious award and I think the entire staff and I think the nurses especially are extremely proud of this award and what it means to be recognized for compassionate care,” Clark said. “I think it’s a huge part.
“We deal with a very special group of patients in that our patients, especially ones that are in the hospital, have issues with their heart. And these individuals often require long hospitalizations, or a lot of visits in the clinic and lots of different medications. I think the compassion we as physicians and our entire staff – most specifically our nursing staff – are able to show these families and make sure they know we understand the difficulty they are going through, I think it makes our families happier. It makes them more able to deal with these difficult conditions and really have a better course of their illnesses.”
The DAISY Foundation was established by family members of the late Patrick Barnes. Although he died at the age of 33 from an auto-immune disease, the patient’s family was impressed by the way nurses delivered clinical care with kindness and compassion to Barnes and his family. The Barnes family believes nurses are unsung heroes who deserve far more recognition and honor than they receive and created the DAISY (Disease Attacking the Immune System) Foundation in 1999 to honor Patrick and extraordinary nurses.
Clark said The DAISY Award is given once a year and this is the first time it was given at Children's National.
Clark was also a part of the team that kept another specific patient’s pain under control at Children’s National. The team fulfilled wishes and desires of her family and kept them in good spirits, all while providing End of Life (EOL) care with compassion.
Debbie Lafond is a nurse practitioner who works on the Pediatric Advanced Needs Assessment Palliative Care Team at Children's National. Care is provided for babies in the womb, children and young adults with life-threatening illnesses such as high risk cancer, genetic disorders and other mitochondrial diseases, where they are not likely to survive a long time.
Lafond has worked at Children’s for 25 years and said HKU cares for patients with a variety of cardiac conditions, but rarely participates in EOL because patients usually do pretty well. The patient who was connected with The DAISY Award had been cared for in the unit multiple times in the past and was hospitalized for almost 40 days in late 2014.
“Our focus is really on quality of life, and how we can make every day the best it can be, given the very difficult circumstances of their diagnosis,” Lafond said.
Lafond said she was very familiar with The DAISY Award for individual nurses who have gone above and beyond to provide compassionate care. She said she felt it would be great to recognize the interdisciplinary team who provided care to the teenager and her family. However, Lafond could not narrow a potential DAISY Award nomination down to one nurse and said the whole interdisciplinary team provided exceptional care.
“I saw physicians, I saw environmental service people, social workers – all of the different disciplines just banded together to really give this young girl and her family a good death, not that any death can be good, but to make it the best it could be given the circumstances. And so I just submitted a nomination for The DAISY Award and I asked if there was any way we would recognize more than one person. At that time, I didn’t realize that The Daisy Foundation was actually coming out with a team Daisy Award,” Lafond said.
While reflecting, the nurse practitioner recalled special elements of The DAISY Team Award ceremony that was held at Children’s National.
“I think we do extraordinary things here every single day, but we don’t often have the chance to recognize that because the next patient is rolling in the door and we have to be extraordinary for the next patient. And so it was very nice to have time to come together and to really see one another again. It was also a time of remembrance of this patient,” Lafond said.
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