January 29, 2024

“I will always remember her. I can’t imagine a more compassionate individual,” and other DAISY Award-winning examples of extraordinary nurses

DAISY Awards are given to great nurses all over the United States and in many other countries. Here are VUMC’s latest winners.

Four times each year, VUMC Voice spotlights recipients of The DAISY Award, a recognition for extraordinary nurses who exemplify compassion toward patients and families.

VUMC distributes the award in partnership with The DAISY Foundation, which was formed in 1999 to honor the memory of J. Patrick Barnes, a 33-year-old man who died of complications of the autoimmune disease Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). Barnes’ family was moved by the care they received from his nurses and wanted to recognize them to preserve his memory. DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.

VUMC nurse committees determine the individual recipients. Previous recipients of the DAISY Award are here. The award is open to all licensed nurses, and anyone can nominate — including co-workers, patients and their families. Nominations may be made here.

Here are some of the latest recipients of the DAISY Award:

Annaliza Zurcher, LPN. Unit: Spring Hill Primary Care, Vanderbilt Adult Ambulatory Clinics

Annaliza Zurcher. From the nomination: “I’ve seen nurse Zurcher now probably about five or six times. She always makes me feel a lot better about my visit considering I dread doctor appointments. She is always extremely friendly and easy to talk to. Today I was sitting in the patient room and wondering how I could let her know that I appreciate her and what she does and then I saw this survey and thought instantly to recognize her on this platform. Hats off to you, nurse Zurcher. You’re amazing at what you do, and my family and I would like to say thank you!” Photo by Susan Urmy.

Marla Houston, RN, Unit: Radiation Oncology Franklin, Vanderbilt Adult Ambulatory Clinics.

Marla Houston. From the nomination: “First officially met Marla Houston, RN, on 5/8/23 (then weekly until 6/9/23) but saw her most days of treatment (at least in passing). She always greeted me and asked how I was doing. On our weekly nursing visits (before I met with the doctor), she was always very helpful and concerned. She not only listened to my related concerns, passing information to the doctor to follow up with me about, but would discuss my concerns about other health problems … I am glad she was there and will always remember her. I can’t imagine a more compassionate individual, always helpful and concerned about me — but with a smile that just made me feel confident with everything going on.” Photo by Donn Jones.

Jeff Benton, CRNA. Unit: Anesthesiology, Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital.

Jeff Benton. From the nomination: “I work in Labor & Delivery. Jeff was our CRNA from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. After 3, he passed the baton to another CRNA. Around 3:15 or so one of our patients required the service of Anesthesia. We called the person we were supposed to. They said okay, someone will be there shortly. A few minutes later Jeff shows up in street clothes. We asked, ‘What are you doing back?’ He responded, ‘I was on my way home when I got the text a patient needed help. Everyone else is stuck in a case in the OR, so I turned around. Patients shouldn’t be in pain if we can help it.’ …Jeff is one of the most kind, caring and compassionate CRNAs I have ever worked with.” Photo by Donn Jones.

Brandy Dawkins, RN. Unit: Float Pool, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital.

Brandy Dawkins. From the nomination: “The particular nurse, Brandy, went above and beyond her call of duty when I sought her out after having a panic attack due to flashbacks. The sympathy/empathy shown means so much to me, and I imagine always will be ingrained in my mind. Not only did she provide me with a positive distraction, but she stayed with me until I felt comfortable.” Photo by Erin O. Smith.

Sara Elliott, BSN, RN. Unit: Emergency Department, Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital.

Sara Elliott. From the nomination: “Impressed, grateful, overwhelmed by her kindness; these are the very strong emotions that come to my mind when I think of what ED Nurse Sara Elliott did for my family recently. My 37-year-old son had ALS. He was on hospice care at home. On Sunday afternoon while watching a movie, his time came, and he slumped over in his wheelchair. My daughter-in-law was terrified and very upset. Despite knowing he had a fatal disease, she began resuscitation efforts. She called 911 and he was taken by ambulance to the VTHH ED. There he was provided care by the most amazing group of folks. (The staff was nothing short of amazing at every turn, but that is a different story). Sara was the ED charge nurse that day, and ensured my son received exceptional care, individualized to him.”

Shannon Lynch, BSN, RN. Unit: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Shannon Lynch. From the nomination: “Shannon is an incredible asset to the hospital, especially the PICU. Not only does she round on all of our high-risk patients, but she always comes by on the even hours because she knows our patients get turned then, and she is able to help us with this task. And she doesn’t just check their skin and leave; she is always game to tackle a bath, a diaper change, a full linen change, or whatever else the patient needs. She is SO flexible with nursing when she comes by for skin checks and she sticks around to help with all the things that need to be done. She also checks in with us on an emotional level when we have difficult assignments. She takes on so many roles.” Photo by Donn Jones.

Kristen Patterson, LPN. Unit: Emergency Department, Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital.

Kristen Patterson. From the nomination: “Kristen was immediately so kind and reassuring that she was going to take the best care of my daughter. My daughter, age 6, had been sick for a few days with a terrible cough and was experiencing chest pains. When we got to our room Kristen immediately included my daughter in all conversations. She promised that she would always talk to her and let her know if anything was going to be done that would be painful or hurt, that she would always talk to her and make sure they made a plan. She was the kindest and sweetest with her.”