May 6, 2019

Nurses’ Week video shows Burn Center nurse Tiffany Nugen being surprised by a grateful family

The Lemarr family traveled from East Tennessee to say thank you

Burn Center nurse Tiffany Nugen reads the letter of thanks from Jackie Lemarr.

Jackie Lemarr’s husband, Tim, was burned in an accident last September at their East Tennessee home, and while he was being treated at Vanderbilt, one of his Burn Center nurses was Tiffany Nugen, RN.

Tim Lemarr has now recovered from his injuries and is back home, and Jackie wrote an emotional letter to Nugen to thank her for helping the Lemarr family through Tim’s treatment and recovery. The letter also nominates Nugen to be honored during VUMC’s observance of Nurses’ Week, which is May 6-12.

Now, in a video produced for Nurses’ Week by Medical Center Development, Nugen reads aloud from the letter and is surprised at the end of the video by a visit from Lemarr family, Tim and Jackie, along with their daughters Abigail and Madaline. The family traveled four hours to surprise her and thank her.

Watch the video here:

Here is the full text of Jackie Lemarr’s letter praising Tiffany Nugen:

No matter how much school someone attends, how many degrees they have, or how much time they spend training, you cannot teach someone how to care. When I think of my husband’s time at Vanderbilt and all the wonderful staff we had contact with, one person always stands out. Tiffany Nugen. My husband was injured in a fire at our home on 9/22/18. We are not local to Nashville, we are about a four-hour drive from our home in East Tennessee. The first week of his stay is very much like a blur. He was in ICU and we met so many people that week. A few days into his stay I walk into his room and there stands Tiffany; she greeted me with the biggest warmest smile. She immediately introduced herself and began telling me about my husband’s night, the plan for the day, and the plan for the future. She used words that someone with no medical knowledge could understand, and in a manner that made it easy to ask questions with ease. Over the next few weeks we were fortunate to have Tiffany assigned to us many times. Over those weeks Tiffany was not only my husband’s nurse, but she became my family’s nurse. She knew our daughters who were with us, she would ask about them, make sure they weren’t scared or had any questions. She knew that the stronger our family was, the stronger my husband would be. However, the memory that sticks with me the most was one day when she was not our nurse. My husband had gone to wound care and I went to our new home in the waiting room of the hospital where I now lived. Waited my usual hour and was making my way back to his room. I was almost there and saw Tiffany. She stopped to ask about him as she always did when he was not her patient. I think she could see the tired all over my face. She ask how he was and about that time we could hear him screaming, as wound care is a necessary torture to any burn victim. She immediately put her arm around me and said let’s talk for a few. Standing there for that few minutes, was the first time in days that I had a normal conversation. We spoke about the rain that was falling that day, about my daughters’ spring break, about my East Tennessee home I missed so much. She treated me like a friend she ran into at the grocery store, and for a few minutes I wasn’t standing on the 11th floor ICU; I was just having a chat. That conversation gave me the time I needed to get myself together so I could go and care for my husband who was in so much pain and needed me to be strong. You cannot teach that. You cannot teach having a good heart and compassion for other people who are going through something you cannot imagine. Tiffany will never know how much she helped me in that few minutes, because it cannot be explained. Since my husband’s release, we talk about Tiffany often. About the fantastic care she showed my family, and I say my family. She was my husband’s nurse, but she was our nurse. She helped every person she came in contact with. She was the angel I prayed to come and help us in our time of need and I am, and forever will be, grateful for her. It is an absolute honor on behalf of my husband Tim, our children and myself to nominate Tiffany Nugen for Nurses Week. You will not find a better person to represent your hospital as she is the best. Thank you.

Jackie Lemarr

To see pictures and comments about other Vanderbilt nurses, go to VanderbiltHealth.org/nursesweek.