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Walter Reed Bethesda Honors Extraordinary Nurses


By Bernard S. Little and Kalila Fleming

WRNMMC Command Communications

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center recently honored four of its nursing team members with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
Navy Capt. Valerie Morrison, director of nursing services at WRNMMC, presented the DAISY awards to Vashtie Sirleaf (April), Navy Ensign Danielle Cogburn (May), Veronica Young (June) and Army 2nd Lt. Sydney Rice (July) at their work areas.
The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses recognizes nursing excellence at the facilities that have the program. Currently, there are more than 2,500 health-care facilities in all 50 states and 15 countries honoring nurses with the DAISY award.
DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, and the award began in 1999 in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died earlier that year at the age of 33 from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, an autoimmune disease.
"Just days after he died, we began talking about what we would do to help fill the giant hole in our hearts that Pat’s passing had left,” stated Mark Barnes, Patrick’s father, on The DAISY Foundation website. “We created The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and piloted the program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, whose nurses cared for Patrick during the last weeks of his life. Our goal was to ensure that nurses know how deserving they are of our society's profound respect for the education, training, brainpower, and skill they put into their work, and especially for the caring with which they deliver their care."
“It’s just a great way for us to recognize our nursing team on a monthly basis,” Morrison said about the initiative at WRNMMC. “It really does spotlight the excellent care each and every one of our nurses gives every day,” she added. Anyone, including patients, family members, colleagues, volunteers and visitors, can nominate a nursing team member for the DAISY award at WRNMMC.
The patient who nominated Sirleaf for the April DAISY award stated, “[This nurse’s] skills are beyond exceptional, and she is committed and very compassionate. [She] has the hands of absolute magic.”
“It’s a joy to have a continuity of care with our nation’s warfighters and their families,” said Sirleaf, whose originally is from Monrovia, Liberia. She added faith and her co-workers are her biggest motivation in caring for and striving to heal each of her patients.
A physician nominated Cogburn, who works on 5 East for the May DAISY award stating, “This nurse is always diligent in addressing patients’ needs. This nurse's dedication to patient care, safety and comfort is extraordinary. On this night in particular, this nurse helped manage a patient with nausea… [Cogburn] called the resident to alert me to the situation, and by the time i was in the room, she had already cleaned up the patient and the room, and helped the patient to a chair. This nurse then proceeded to help [with] NG-tube placement…This nurse has an excellent knowledge of the department and great situational awareness. I'm privileged to have this nurse as an asset to night float (as a resident).”
A staff member from Occupational Therapy nominated Young for the June DAISY award, describing her as “dedicated, professional and always being in a positive, happy mood.” The nominator also stated about the 4 Center certified nursing assistant, “I always observe [Young] going over and beyond with patients, and in particular, one long-term patient.  [Young] has developed a good rapport with us (therapy staff) and has borrowed OT specialty shower chair to shower this patient [once or twice a week] and assist this patient with self-care tasks. [Young] obtains clothes for the patient from the Red Cross, and she washes [them] to ensure they are clean for the patient.
“I am sure there is plenty more that [Young] does that we are not well aware of, but the good that I do notice I just wanted to communicate it with the nursing administrative staff [and let them know] that this nursing team member’s hard work is not going unnoticed and that we all appreciate it,” stated the nominator about Young.
A patient nominated Rice, of 5 Center, for the July DAISY award, stating, “This nurse embodies all of the principles the DAISY Award stands for…The primary characteristic that puts this nurse a head above the rest is advocacy.”
The patient added about Rice, “Out of all my hospital stays, I've never had a nurse that truly cared for the patient so much as to fight for them the way [she] has done.  [She] would listen carefully to my concerns and recognized the need for the multiple disciplines to coordinate a unified plan. This nurse made that collaboration happen. She called meetings with the various doctors to facilitate joint decisions. This nurse went up the chain of command of immunology to ensure people would be staying late to support giving shots that needed to be done before the weekend began. [She] ensured my multitude of medications were delivered on time and were correct. This nurse would do it all with a calm and nurturing attitude.”
Rice gave credit to her colleagues on 5 Center. “I enjoy working here and you guys are a great team,” she said to her co-workers. “I wouldn’t be where I am if you guys didn’t teach and mentor me,” she added.
Morrison noted that the DAISY award honorees “personify the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s remarkable patient experience. These nursing team members consistently demonstrate excellence through their clinical expertise and extraordinary compassionate care, and they will continue to be recognized as outstanding role models in our nursing community,” she added.
Each DAISY award winner receives a serpentine stone sculpture hand carved by artists of the Shona tribe in Zimbabwe. The stone sculpture, called “The Healer’s Touch,” is representative of the special relationship nurses have with their patients, explained Joan Loepker-Duncan, a cardiology service clinical nurse who serves on the WRNMMC DAISY Award Selection Committee, helped to bring the recognition from the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center to WRNMMC when it integrated with the former National Naval Medical Center in 2011. In addition, winner will receive a coupon for free cinnamon rolls, a favorite of Barnes during his illness.
Nominations for the DAISY award can be submitted to any nurse or clerk on your ward or clinic, or by e-mail to joan.loepkerduncan.civ@mail.mil. Nominations can be mailed to Joan Loepker-Duncan, WRNMMC, 8930 Brown Drive, Bldg. 9, Room 2894, Bethesda, Maryland 20889. For additional information about the DAISY award at Walter Reed Bethesda, contact Joan Loepker-Duncan at 301-319-4617.