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Harrison implements national program recognizing nurses

Nancy Lorber, RN, OCNHarrison Medical Center launched a new program earlier this year that recognizes outstanding nurses every month. Called the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, this nationwide program has recognized more than 7,000 in 670 healthcare organizations as of last October.

At Harrison, patients, staff, community members and physicians can nominate advances registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Cindy May, RN, Harrison’s chief nurse and director of nursing practice, quality and operations, said the committee has been receiving 10-14 nominations a month, including from the community, since the program’s inception.

“We’ve had an impressive response,” she said. “We’re really excited to be part of this.”

She said for nursing professionals, it’s important to understand medical science but the job is also largely about human connections and compassion. “I don’t think any of us go into our work expecting to get thank-you’s,” she said, “… but I think it means a great deal for the nurses to know the care they gave made a difference.”

That was exactly the reason the award was created by the DAISY Foundation. DAISY (which stands for ‘Diseases Attacking the Immune System’) was created in 2000 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he died, at age 33, of complications from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP), an auto-immune disease. The family was so touched by the nursing care he received, they wanted to do something in Pat’s memory to honor nurses.

The effort took off since then and the program is supported by several professional organizations, such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Almost 900 nonprofits participate currently in the DAISY Award.

“We started out as a family that needed to say thank-you,” said DAISY co-founder and President Bonnie Barnes, Patrick’s stepmother. “…It has worked beyond our dreams. We didn’t know the nursing profession would embrace this program to this extent.”

To date, more than 120,000 nominations have been written for DAISY. Each participating organization sets its own criteria for the program — such as how frequently to award and which nurses are eligible (some limit it to RNs, for example). There is no application process to partner with the DAISY Foundation and the program is open not just to healthcare organizations but any facility that employs a nursing staff including ambulatory clinics and long-term care facilities.

“The number of the awards each gives a year depends on the number of staff,” Barnes said. “Some may do only two, while others do 24 a year.”

Harrison pays $100 a month to the foundation to cover materials, which include, among other things, a banner to hang in the nurse’s unit, a certificate, pin and hand-carved stone sculpture for the recipients. The sculpture, called “A Healer’s Touch,” is handcrafted in Zimbabwe specifically for DAISY Foundation by 14 artists, as their full-time source of income.

The recipients are announced at a celebration with staff that includes Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, which were Patrick’s favorite during his illness. May said no one on the nine-person committee, with the exception of the chair, knows the recipient until the announcement is made. Nominations are reviewed via a “blind” process, with names and any other identifying references removed.

Nancy Lorber, RN, OCN, the recipient of the first award in March, said May personally called her and asked to make a presentation at a managers’ meeting about Harrison’s palliative program, where Lorber currently works. It happened to be Lorber’s day off.

“I prepared a presentation and came expecting to do a presentation,” Lorber said. “I came into a full room… Something didn’t seem quite right.”

Lorber, who has been with Harrison for seven years including in the oncology unit, said nurses don’t usually think twice about the care they provide because that is part of their job, but “it’s wonderful to be recognized.”

“I was extremely honored,” said Lorber, who will work part-time starting this fall so she can attend University of Washington for a master’s degree in nursing. At age 55, she has been a nurse for nine years, having joined the field after previously being a homemaker, then waiting for the right time to get the right education.

“It’s valuable to have programs like this,” she said. “…It promotes nursing and it brings honor to our profession.”

Three members of the Barnes family including Bonnie attended the March inaugural celebration. Barnes said they were so impressed by how Harrison implemented the program, a PowerPoint presentation by Harrison will be shared with others as “a model for best practices.”

“We were really impressed. They did everything right,” she said. “…It has to be embedded in the culture of each organization, and they did it beautifully.”

For more information about the DAISY Foundation, go to www.daisyfoundation.org and to learn more about Harrison’s program or fill out an online nomination, visit www.harrisonmedical.org/home/daisyaward.

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