DAISY Award A Sweet Honor For UW Hospital and Clinics Nurse

Gail Hettrick, left, with Mark and Bonnie Barnes of The DIASY Foundation and their granddaughter Riley CarraherMadison, Wisconsin - Gail Hettrick sat in the front row with the other finalists for the inaugural DAISY Award at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.


Her thought process was probably much the same as that of her peers in the chairs down the row.


"I thought, 'Those stories are much more deserving. That's the person that's going to win,' " said Hettrick, a nurse in the Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant and Palliative Care unit.


But it was Hettrick who was lauded July 19 as the first nurse at UW Hospital and Clinics to receive the DAISY Award, which recognizes remarkable care, clinical skills and extraordinary compassion in nursing.


"I had no idea it was going to be me," Hettrick said. "All the people that I was up here with are totally deserving of this award. The amazing stories of nursing and nursing care and the difference people made in patients' lives, in families' lives, is amazing. Everybody here deserved the award."


Adding to what Hettrick called a "little bit of a whirlwind" of a day was the fact that she was presented her award by 12-year-old Riley Carraher, the daughter of the man who inspired the DAISY Award.


Saying Thank You ... To 30,000 Nurses and Counting


J. Patrick Barnes was 33 years old - and Riley just six weeks old - when he passed away in 1999 following an eight-week battle with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, an auto-immune disease.


"We needed to do something. We needed to find some way to begin to fill that just enormous hole that losing Pat left in our hearts," said Bonnie Barnes, Pat's stepmother. "And we needed to figure out how we were going to keep his very special spirit alive, because he was such a great guy.


"As we brainstormed, we kept coming back to the one thing that got us through those eight weeks, and that was Pat's extraordinary nurses. It seemed to us that every nurse we came in contact with were so skillful, they were so capable and confident at what they did. Their ability to handle what obviously became a very difficult, complex and frankly gruesome medical condition was really, really impressive. ... They were so human and they were so good to us. I learned then - and I know even more now - there is no hug like a nurse's hug."


So the family - including Pat's father Mark, Bonnie and Pat's widow Tena - started The DAISY Foundation with the goal to thank nurses for their extraordinary work. The name DAISY comes from the phrase "diseases attacking immune systems."


They never could have dreamed it would grow into what it is today: DAISY Award programs are active in 1,299 facilities in seven countries, with more than 30,000 nurses having been honored and more than 140,000 nominated.


"We pulled out just recently the article that ran in Seattle, which is where we started the program when we started the program at the University of Washington - the other UW - and the article quoted me as saying 'We're hoping to do this in 10 hospitals around the country.' We never imagined it would have this impact. ... It blows us away. We pinch each other about it all the time."


"The whole thing has just been an incredibly rewarding thing for us," Mark added. "We both had very successful marketing careers, but nothing we've ever done has been as meaningful as this."


Mark and Bonnie live in Northern California and make approximately 100 visits a year to health care facilities for award ceremonies. This was the first such trip for their granddaughter Riley, who lives in Atlanta.


At UW Hospital and Clinics, they got to meet Hettrick.


She was nominated for the award by colleague Mandy Swiecichowski because of her "dedicated commitment to her patients and her profession. It was obvious by the words that come from her patients' compliments that her care is the best." Two more peers added poignant comments in the nomination form.


One said, "She is kind, warm and caring with her patients. It has taught me that you can have all the knowledge in the world, but patients will always remember the compassion you have for them and the passion you have for the job."


The other was impressed with the "transplant pep talk" that Hettrick gives to patients and families in the Bone Marrow Transplant program. "I remember thinking how lucky all of her patients were to have such an amazing nurse who is so empowering and knowledgeable."


Sue Rees, vice president for Development, Nursing and Patient Care Services, said a committee considered UW Health's core values of integrity, innovation, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence in choosing the 12 finalists for the inaugural DAISY Award.


"It's wonderful to be recognized," said Hettrick, who followed in her mother's footsteps in becoming a nurse. "I work with a wonderful staff. The support we give each other is amazing. You feel very honored when you come from a wonderful unit and you were the one who was nominated. It's a very special feeling."


'You Are Heroes'


Mark was happy to hear that. In the 12 years the foundation has been making presentations around the country and the world, he started to become frustrated by a recurring theme.


"When we first started the program, Bonnie and I became very much aware of nurses' initial reaction is, 'I didn't do anything special, I'm just doing my job,' " he said. "And it more and more and more used to bother us, because it didn't appear that nurses were able to see the impact that they were having on their patients."


But that changed during National Nurses Week in May, while they visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Mark had a conversation with Rear Admiral Alton L. Stocks, the commander of the hospital.


"I said to him, this is really starting to bother me, that nurses keep saying I didn't do anything special, I'm just doing my job," Mark recalled. "And he said, 'Well, of course they do. They're heroes. That's what heroes do. Medal of Honor winners say that and all of our nurses say that. Heroes don't think they do anything special. That's because they're heroes.' "


Mark said this gave him a better appreciation and understanding of the nurses he meets. And he had a message for the room, which was full of UW Hospital and Clinics nurses.


"You are heroes, you do make the world a better place and I can't tell you how proud we are to be able to say thank you," he said.


Beth Houlahan, Chief Nursing Officer and senior vice president for Patient Care Services, brought the DAISY program to UW Hospital and Clinics after her experience with it at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


"I can absolutely attest to the fact that this organization has a multitude of extraordinary nurses among the ranks," she said. "And an award like DAISY gives us a moment to pause, to look around us and thank our nurses for going above and beyond to create a meaningful experience for our patients."


It also gave everyone a chance to enjoy a cinnamon roll - the fragrant scent of the rolls floated in the air throughout the ceremony. There's a special reason they are served at every DAISY Award ceremony.


"When Pat was sick, he wasn't eating anything at all. And I brought in a Cinnabon® one morning for myself and he asked for a bite of it - and then he ate the whole thing. He was defiant to the end," Mark Barnes said of his son. "That night he said, 'Please bring me one in the morning - and make sure you bring enough for all the nurses. ... That was Pat's gift to his nurses, and it's our gift from Pat to all of you nurses."


Here are the 12 finalists for the inaugural DAISY Award at UW Hospital and Clinics:

  • Andreya Carman, BSN, RN, General Medicine and Geriatrics
  • Ruth Miller, BSN, RN, Heart and Vascular Care
  • Suzanne Cooper, BSN, RN, Oncology
  • Denise Cooper, BSN, RN, CPON Diagnostic and Therapy Center
  • Carly Collins, MSN, RN, CPON Diagnostic and Therapy Center
  • Barb Uselman, BSN, RN, West Endocrinology/Diabetes Clinic
  • Monica Livingston, BSN, RN, Surgical Trauma
  • Tamara Kempken-Mehring, MSN, RN, Clinical Research Center
  • Dana Fulton, BSN, RN, Clinical Research Center
  • Erica Schwab, BSN, RN, Acute Medicine/Progressive Care
  • Jenna Stellmacher, BSN, RN, Gynecology, Urology, Plastics and Otolaryngology
  • Gail Hettrick, BSN, RN, OCN, Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant and Palliative Care
DAISY Award Slideshow



Date Published: 08/02/2012

News tag(s):  nursing

News RSS Feed