Published: June 2, 2008
Updated: June 2, 2008
Message from Duke University Hospital Leadership
Erlinda Aguilar, RN
Cynthia Arrington and Louis Tedder
Kimberly Blackwell, MD
Mike Blazing, MD
Unit 5100 Nursing
Michael Carboni, MD
Shannon Dunlay, MD
Timothy Driscoll, MD
David Enterline, MD
Kristy Everette, LRT/CTRS
Brianna Grohman, RN
Amy Hardee, RN, BSN, BC
Brantley Holland, LDO, and Jenny Patterson
Hospital Education Services
Intensive Care Nursery
Joanne Kurtzberg, MD
Lacey Lee, PharmD, RPh
William Malcolm, MD
Anita Matthews, RN, BSN, CN III
Vanessa Mattson, RN
Paula McKinzie, RN, MSN
Alice Meise, RN
Periop Services -- Duke Eye Center
Jean Rea, RN, MN, CCTC
Jose and Eduarda Resendes
Charles Scales, MD
Deborah Smith, RN, CN IV
Alison Toth, MD
Unit 3100 Nursing
Units 3200/3300/Heart and Respiratory Services
Unit 5300, OB Nursing, and Pediatric Respirator
Units 8100 and 8300
Kimyatta Washington, MHSA
In 2004, Duke University Hospital launched an innovative program to reward employees for going the extra mile. The goal was to highlight members of our team whose actions epitomized service excellence. Named the Strength, Hope, and Caring Program -- after qualities and values exhibited by these star employees -- this unique method of recognizing superior service delivery has become an integral part of our rewards and recognition program.
Each year, we have the honor of highlighting the stories of Our Brightest Stars in a special commemorative booklet distributed at a gala held in their honor. The stories you will find on these pages will touch your heart, and we hope you will take a moment to reflect on the impact each of these special employees has had on the lives of our patients and on our team.
These are the faces of Duke University Hospital. They are the ones who heal the hurts and soothe the pains. They provide shoulders to cry on. They provide strength. They give hope freely. And they do these things because they care. And that is why we are so very proud to share their stories with you.
William J. Fulkerson Jr., MD
Chief Executive Officer
Steve Olson, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Kevin Sowers, RN, MSN
Chief Operating Officer
Mary Ann Fuchs, RN, MSN
Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer
Mark Miller, CPA, MBA
Chief Financial Officer
Deborah Page, SPHR
Human Resources Director
Erlinda’s nominator wrote of Erlinda’s tenacious support in order to ensure that an intoxicated patient received treatment that would best support his health and welfare after discharge. For going above and beyond to care for the patient, her efforts were recognized with a Strength, Hope, and Caring Award.
Cynthia knew that a patient was terminally ill. She asked if there was anything she could get for him. “Now that I feel I can eat a bit,” he said to her, “I’d like some pinto beans.”
Cynthia called the kitchen, but there were no pinto beans available. She then contacted Louis and told him of the request. Cynthia gathered the money for the beans, and Louis was off on his mission.
His nominator wrote that Louis walked to one store, but they did not have any pintos. Then, he walked next door to another store and found a can of beans. He quickly brought it back to Cynthia. She was able to warm up the beans and fulfill the patient’s request.
For going above and beyond in service to our patients, Cynthia and Louis were awarded a Strength, Hope, and Caring Team Award.
Shawanna, known to many of her co-workers as "Granny," takes great pride in her work and always puts patients first. Her nominators wrote: "Granny is consistently an excellent employee who takes great pride in her work and always places patients’ needs first.
"Every time she enters a patient’s room, she acknowledges the patient and family and freely talks to them. If a stat admission is coming, Granny will be at the door ready to clean, often canceling the stat clean team because she realizes how important her job is and how quickly it needs to be done."
Another example of her dedication: Shawanna heard that a new Environmental Services employee was finding the work pace a bit challenging. She did not hesitate before going over and offering to help get the job done. For her sincere dedication to the team, Duke Hospital leadership presented her with a Strength, Hope, and Caring Award.
An elderly couple had driven to the area from out of state for admission and treatment at Duke University Hospital. Nursing staff discovered that the patient and her husband had brought their pet bird with them, as they had no one to care for it at home.
Both the patient and her husband became increasingly worried about leaving the bird in the car overnight due to a forecast for freezing temperatures. Unable to have the bird boarded at local veterinarian offices or pet stores, the unit manager called Vickie in Patient Visitor Relations for help. Undaunted, Vickie was able to arrange for care of the couple’s bird until the patient was discharged, easing their minds so they could focus on the patient’s health.
Dr. Blackwell’s nominator, an employee, went to see her after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Battling her cancer for a year meant undergoing several hospitalizations, multiple therapies, and radiation treatments. Due to Dr. Blackwell’s “perseverance and dogged determination not to give in,” the patient came through it all and is now able to raise her two young daughters as well as continue her work here at Duke.
The nominator wrote, “She is an amazing physician and an amazing person…When I think of my medical care…the ‘brilliant’ care component is truly embodied in Kim Blackwell.”
Dr. Blazing went beyond the call of duty when providing care for a chronically ill patient whom he assumed care for after a colleague retired. Following multiple hospitalizations and with a deteriorating condition, the patient, along with his wife, decided against another hospitalization. He preferred to spend his last moments of life at home.
Honoring his wish, Dr. Blazing went to the patient’s home every three days to assess his condition, making decisions on medications to help ease the patient’s pain. He explained the uses of each medication and spent time listening to both the patient and his wife.
His nominator wrote: “Dr. Blazing consistently exceeds any and all expectations that patients, colleagues, and he himself set. He is always willing to help anyone and to take on challenges. I highly recommend him for this award.”
A young cancer patient, after a long treatment period and nearing the end of his life, loved the character Mickey Mouse. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was going to send him to Walt Disney World, but with his disease progressing so quickly, he was unable to go.
Bridgett, Julie, Stephanie, and Sara, all nurses on Unit 5100, decided to purchase a theme park-sized Mickey Mouse costume to surprise the patient and his family. The child was absolutely delighted to see his favorite character. Bridgett, Julie, Stephanie, and Sara went above the call of duty to make this little patient’s wish come true.
Dr. Carboni reached out to a pediatric patient who had been hospitalized for many months while awaiting a heart transplant. He thought it would be nice for the young patient and his family to have an outing outside the hospital for the Fourth of July.
He arranged for his own family to meet with the patient and the child’s loved ones in the quad outside of Duke Clinic. Playing with Dr. Carboni’s children was a special and refreshing treat that enabled the patient to just forget being sick and enjoy being a kid.
Dr. Carboni’s nominator wrote, “I think it’s wonderful Dr. Carboni went the extra mile and extended himself in this characteristically caring way, and I would like to recognize him.”
Daisy was helping a patient, a young mother of a five-month-old baby, arrange for transportation. She escorted the patient downstairs to wait for her cab. The patient was alone and did not know what to do. After the patient was already in the cab, Daisy got on the bus to leave for the day.
As the bus started to pull away from the curb, Daisy saw that the patient had forgotten her bag of medications -- medications that were essential for the baby’s care.
Daisy begged the bus driver to stop. She got off the bus and called Carla Thompson, patient resource manager for the Pediatric Neurosurgery Service, and asked her to call the cab company and have the driver drive back around to the front of Duke University Hospital.
Daisy waited until they arrived, and she made sure that the patient had the bag of medications that she needed.
A patient from Hawaii had family that could not afford to travel to North Carolina to be with their loved one. Dr. Dunlay maintained close contact with the patient’s sister during his hospitalization.
When the patient’s condition worsened, the staff felt it necessary to contact the family once again. Dr. Dunlay came in post-call to speak with the patient’s sister. Even though the patient could not speak back, Dr. Dunlay held her cell phone to the patient’s ear so his sister could tearfully talk to him.
Dr. Dunlay’s dedication to her patient and to the emotional well-being of a patient’s family she has never met exemplifies the best in medicine.
Dr. Driscoll’s nominator wrote: “A 17-year-old patient on 5200 was in danger of missing her high-school graduation. She had been in the hospital for months, and her mother was very ill, as was her grandmother.
The most important thing to her was to walk across that stage to receive her diploma. Unfortunately, she was still very ill and needed numerous pieces of medical equipment.
Knowing just how much attending the ceremony meant to the teenager, Dr. Driscoll came to the hospital on graduation day -- a Saturday -- and drove her to Virginia. The patient walked across the stage to a standing ovation. Without Dr. Driscoll managing her complex medical care, she never would have been able to leave the hospital for this milestone event.”
Although neither the patient nor his family spoke English, the quality of Jennifer’s care during stereotactic surgery, an extensive procedure, surpassed language barriers. Jennifer’s nominator complimented her for many examples of her outstanding teaching abilities, capacity for care, and compassion. “She makes a big difference in patient care,” her nominator wrote.
Dr. Enterline took time and patience in reassuring a patient that there was hope and help for her.
The patient’s daughter wrote: “Extraordinary person, extraordinary care is an excellent description of Dr. Enterline. He offered my mother hope when she believed nothing would help her. He cared about her well-being throughout her course in radiology and consult.
Dr. Enterline took my mother to his office and spent 45 minutes reassuring her that he believed there was something that could be done to help her, which went a long way to relieving her anxieties. His ability to educate his patients -- at an appropriate level they can understand -- is wonderful.
What an excellent role model Dr. Enterline is for those residents in training and for those working with him. I am pleased to report Mom is enjoying her life again following her care by Dr. Enterline.”
When Kristy learned of a longtime desire to establish a patient recreational therapy volunteer program for the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic, she stepped up to the plate to make it happen.
In the words of her nominator, "I mentioned this need to Kristy one day as she was seeing patients on the inpatient unit. Before I knew it, she had developed a program for patients receiving their transplants and supportive care in the outpatient setting.
"Over the past year, the program has grown to a point that there are two volunteers in our clinic every day, seven days a week. They offer support, companionship, and recreational activities. This is not something that Kristy had to do, and I am sure is not a part of her job description. But she has done a phenomenal job directing this program and deserves to be recognized for it."
Brianna’s nominator recounted how the new nurse’s attention to detail and dedication to her patient ensured that the proper therapy was continued for the patient even after discharge.
Her nominator wrote: “Her patient’s care needs were her
number-one priority. She wanted to ensure that he could leave
the hospital after an extended stay to be with family and
friends. Brianna consistently demonstrates knowledge and
understanding of the care needs of her patients and their
families. This is very impressive given that Brianna has been a
nurse for such a short time.”
Amy Hardee, RN, BSN, BC
Duke Family Medicine Center
Years of Service: 20
Realizing a patient was going to be receiving some very difficult news regarding lab results, Amy worked tirelessly to make sure the patient’s primary care provider could spend an ample amount of time with his patient.
Her nominator wrote: “With the support of other providers, Amy was able to reassign his patients. She coordinated the medical assistants and the front desk staff to facilitate the patient flow. As a result, the patient didn’t have to wait long in the waiting room for his appointment…Amy and the provider were able to spend a significant amount of time with the patient and the patient’s spouse…This is an example of the kind of staff member that makes Duke Medicine what it is.”
A young patient, who had recovered from a major surgery and who was waiting for a transplant, had little means, small children, and no family in the area. The nominator noticed that the patient’s broken eyeglasses, which were held together with a safety pin, would barely stay on her face.
He took her to the SuperOptics shop for help. Once there, Brantley and Jenny demonstrated the epitome of excellent customer care, expertly fixing her glasses. Facing another major surgery and associated costs, the patient broke down and cried in thanks.
In the words of their nominator, “Jenny and Brantley’s help
assisted us in demonstrating to a scared young woman that she
could trust us and that we were here to help her.”
Hospital Education Services
After being called back to active duty by the U.S. Navy, a new employee in Education Services, who had no family in the area, worried about who would help his wife with their three young children while he was gone for a year.
The staff quickly stepped in to help in any way they could -- from shuttling kids from one event to another, to calling to check in on the employee’s wife to make sure all was well.
Upon his return from duty, the staff in Education Services
again went above and beyond to welcome him back and to help
ease the transition into his work role. In the words of this
nominator, “This department truly exemplifies the spirit of the
Strength, Hope, and Caring Award.”
Intensive Care Nursery
A patient’s father, who is a Duke employee, nominated the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) for providing love and care when medically there was nothing else they could do.
The nominator, whose son Caleb is one of triplets, wrote: "Our son Caleb was born at a little more than one-and-a-half pounds with a huge hole in his heart. The doctors said it was like he had three chambers instead of four. After two months in the ICN, our son was heading in the wrong direction.
"We sat down with Dr. [Margarita] Bidegain, the ICN attending, and Dr. [James] Jaggers, the heart surgeon. They told us there was nothing left to do for him medically or through surgery. Dr. Bidegain said the only thing we could do was to hold him and love him.
My wife and I spent as much time as possible here at Duke, but with our other two children at home, we were limited in how often we could be here. So, into the gap stepped the nurses of the ICN. They held and loved our son when we couldn’t be there to hold and love our son.
Two months later, without changing anything or doing any surgery, he was big enough and healthy enough to come home. This last Saturday, when my little one, who should never have lived, saw his nurse, he burst out into laughter...Why do I work at Duke? Because these truly are extraordinary people."
After a car accident, a family’s dog went missing. Both mother and son, who were patients, were physically fine, but they were heartbroken over the disappearance of their beloved pet, who had been in the car with them.
Dr. Kurtzberg’s nominator wrote: "Not long ago, while minding my own business, an e-mail arrived in my home inbox asking those who lived in the area to keep an eye out for the lost dog of a Duke pediatric patient. While visiting the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit the next day, I learned the extent of this story.
"From the workroom in 5200, a room usually reserved for life-or-death decisions, the cry went out. Dr. Kurtzberg rallied the media and the community to help her patient find this dog.
"What you need to understand is that families come from literally all over the country and world for Dr. K to care for them. She has testified before Congress regarding umbilical cord blood research. But on one afternoon in March, she used her power to do her best to take care of her patient.
"The ending of the story is that several folks in the Durham
community got the word out, and searches were organized.
Ultimately, the young man and his best friend were reunited."
And in recognition of her consideration and caring for this
family and their precious pet, Dr. Kurtzberg received a
Strength, Hope, and Caring Award.
Lacey Lee, PharmD, RPh
Years of Service: 2
While Lacey was teaching a patient on 7800 how to care for her illness, the patient’s elderly husband, who was there with them, became ill. His sickness necessitated urgent transport to the Emergency Department.
Lacey, understanding that her patient was extremely upset and worried about her husband, went to the Emergency Department and stayed with the gentleman for hours after her shift was over. Lacey’s nominator wrote, “Lacey’s caring was a great example of what this award stands for.”
A team member at one of Life Flight’s bases was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. The Life Flight team wasted no time in pulling together as a family.
They donated more than 350 hours of PTO through the Kiel Fund to help make sure this employee would get paid during time out for surgery and recovery. Many team members donated money and also shopped for and prepared food for meals that could be frozen and reheated when she was not feeling well enough to cook.
Some of them would go to her home to make sure the lawn was
cut or to help with spring cleaning. Other team members donated
clothes for her children for the upcoming seasons, since they
knew she would not feel up to shopping. They always made sure
someone was with her during her hospital stay to support her in
any way they could.
William Malcolm, MD
Pediatrics – Neonatology
Years of Service: 9
A newborn was transported to the hospital only hours after his birth due to various complications and unknown medical conditions. Dr. Malcolm was one of the patient’s many doctors. However, the patient’s mother said, Dr. Malcolm was her favorite.
She said he gave her strength to keep going even when she had no strength of her own. Thanks to him, she said, her hope is now fully grounded, and his compassionate caring for her son was one of a friend as much as a doctor.
“Dr. Malcolm has earned this award so many times over already,” the patient’s mother wrote. “He deserves this because of his outstanding medical knowledge and his personal relations with his patients.”
Anita took it upon herself to organize a collection of gifts
on behalf of a long-term inpatient of limited resources and the
patient’s family, all of whom were from out of town. She
championed for the patient and was able to collect enough money
and gift cards to purchase pajamas, warm socks, and other
toiletries. Noting her compassion and loyalty to patient care,
Anita’s nominators felt compelled to submit her nomination as a
shining example of strength, hope, and caring.
Vanessa Mattson, RN
Nursing Resource Pool
Years of Service: 3
Vanessa’s nominator was a patient who had worked in customer service for 35 years. He wrote: "Vanessa kept us informed in all procedures/exercises and answered all of my concerns or found an answer for us. She is very informative and has excellent patient skills.
"I offered to give her a gift card to her favorite restaurant, and she explained to me that she would not accept it -- she said she was only doing her duty. Even during times when she was busy with other patients, she would at least duck in and make sure we knew that she would come by when she could and make sure we were OK.
"Her bedside manner and delightful attitude made my stay a little easier…I want you to know that I feel strongly that Vanessa Mattson should be acknowledged or rewarded…Thank you for hiring and training such a fine nurse. She is, indeed, a true asset to your outstanding hospital. I tell friends weekly that Duke is the best hospital."
A co-worker said that Florence’s extraordinary dedication to
the well-being of her patients is what strength, hope, and
caring is all about: “Florence often takes it upon herself to
drive miles out of the way to help patients who are unable to
drive or make it to her lab. We commend her for her commitment
to patients and for her dedication to Duke.”
Paula McKinzie, RN, MSN
Patient Resource Manager
Patient Resource Management
Years of Service: 6
Paula worked tirelessly to care for a terminally ill patient and the patient’s family. The patient’s final wish was to go home to be with her family and young daughter. She lived in a remote area of another state, and coordination of transportation and hospice resources was a challenge.
Undaunted, Paula persisted in granting her wish even after finding out the patient’s front porch was dilapidated and could not support a gurney. She contacted the local Boy Scouts to see if they could help build a ramp for the porch so that the patient could be carried into her house. Because of Paula’s dedication and creativity, the patient was able to spend her remaining precious days at home with her family.
Wanting to spread cheer during the holiday season, Alice organized a holiday committee to plan something special for the patients on the 9th floor and their families.
She coordinated efforts to ask local businesses for raffle prize donations to raise money for gift baskets for the patients. With enough money raised, she was able to put together beautiful baskets of presents that were distributed on 9100 and 9300 on Christmas Day.
The staff was also able to provide holiday treats of cake, ice cream, and beverages for the patients, families, and visitors who were spending Christmas on the units.
A patient’s husband wrote to thank this team for the
compassionate, caring, and supportive way they treated his wife
and family while his wife was a patient there. He explained how
the nurses and doctors kept his wife comfortable, and how they
kept the family fully informed. He wrote: “Touch is
therapeutic, and they did not hesitate to touch us and hug us.
That was very much appreciated and helped a lot. I know people
can be trained to exhibit those traits, but folks weep and cry
when there is true feeling behind it.”
Periop Services -- Duke Eye Center
After hearing about a fire at the home of one of their staff members, the Duke Eye Center PACU team set out to help. They pitched in any way they could, cleaning walls, painting, cooking, and bringing food. Their nominator, whose home was damaged in the fire, wrote: “They gave me hope that all would be OK and gave me the knowledge that people still care. In my darkest hour, they came through for me.”
A staff member shared details of one of many times that Millie worked behind the scenes to assist a patient who may never know what she did.
The staff member wrote: "This is one of those invisible acts of caring that goes on within our hospital each day. I was speaking with Millie last week just in passing, and we were discussing how things were going in the OR. The story she relayed to me was in no way framed as her act of caring, but as I began to think about it, I believe Millie acted with strength and caring in this situation.
"In our conversation, she relayed the story of a patient who had been scheduled for surgery the prior day. The patient had been NPO the entire day (meaning that the patient was not allowed to eat or drink anything before surgery) up until 10:30 p.m. when the surgery was canceled.
"Millie came in the next morning and was asked to get the patient on the schedule early. As fate would have it, the surgery was again going to be delayed or even cancelled again due to emergency transplants taking place in the scheduled OR rooms.
"Knowing that the patient had been waiting the previous day, Millie did whatever she could to find a place for him to have the procedure. She negotiated with Pediatrics for room space and got the patient in to have the postponed procedure.
"Now, that patient will never know that Millie was the one who worked so hard to help. Millie may not even realize how special that caring was. She relayed to me how badly she feels for the patients when such OR scheduling crunches occur, but clearly she did not see her strength and caring in this situation. These events may occur regularly in Millie’s world, but I just wanted to highlight her efforts after hearing about them. I hope that more of these invisible acts of caring can be uncovered and our employees recognized for their efforts."
A dying patient’s family was struggling with the reality of his impending death. They were also quite touched by the gift of life their loved one would provide through organ donation.
The patient’s mother wrote to the team: "Everyone at Duke was kind and considerate of our need to be with him until the last. May God truly bless you all for the wonderful work that you do by helping to make something good come out of something so horrendous."
The team’s nominator, their manager, wrote: "I just want to thank each of you for the part you played in this very sad case…Donation after cardiac death cases are very difficult since we allow the patient’s family to be with them in the OR during termination of life support…This e-mail from the patient’s mother says one of you even brought water out to the family after they left the OR.
"The care and compassion that you gave this family during this very difficult time can never be measured. This e-mail from the patient’s mother brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud to work with you, and Duke is a better place because of you. Thank you."
When HUC staffing changes challenged units on the 6th floor, Juanita stepped up to the plate to help the team. She took on three additional shifts and initiated calls to have other shifts covered. Undaunted by any obstacles, she continued to keep a smile on her face, doing what was needed to get the job done.
In the words of her nominator, “To top it all off, she
smiles and goes forward and never brings recognition upon
herself. This is her everyday teamwork standard. She does
whatever it takes. She is the perfect health unit coordinator,
the perfect employee, and a wonderful person. If everyone were
like her, the whole world would be better.”
Years of Service: 21
While working in the outpatient holding area for the Cath Lab, Rosa heard that there was a delay in getting rooms cleaned so that several acute patients could be moved into them. Determined to get the patients into rooms as quickly as possible, Rosa took it upon herself to go to the area. When she got there, cleaning was already in progress, so she pitched in to help.
Her nominator wrote: “Our patients got to their rooms much quicker with Rosa’s help. Rosa is a great asset to the Cath Lab.”
Jean’s nominator wrote: "Jean has shown exemplary leadership during a time of transition of the lung transplant program. When faced with the turnover of four fellow coordinators within one month and the unexpected leave of absence of a remaining coordinator, Jean assumed responsibility for the program operations.
During the past two months, she has served as the preceptor for a new coordinator colleague. Jean empowered the program secretaries to implement processes and changes if needed to foster customer service and to ensure that patient appointments were as minimally impacted as possible during the time of transition.
Jean implemented ‘Freaky Fridays’ with themed lunches as a
way to foster interdisciplinary team-building and improve
overall team morale. The ‘Can-do’ award was implemented with a
simple can of food being given monthly to the team member who
is recognized by co-workers as exemplifying a can-do
attitude…It is with pleasure that I nominate her for the
Strength, Hope, and Caring Leadership Award.”
Jose and Eduarda Resendes
After the tragic loss of their daughter and the unyielding commitment of her physicians, this husband-and-wife team are forever committed to doing the best job they can for Duke.
Their nominator wrote: "To listen to their story of commitment and 12 years of dedication is a must! They both strategically have taken their jobs to a level beyond most of us. They shared with me the way they collectively turn over stat room cleans when called upon; it takes half the time, due their common mindset and determination.
"It’s what they do unselfishly for 12 hours a shift...There have been times when others have tried to pull them apart for the sake of the workload. But they consistently prove to any and everyone the benefits of 'team effort.'"
Dr. Scales received several nominations for his exemplary performance during his residency. His nominators stated that he is an excellent physician and a leader in patient safety. His notable bedside manner and consistently positive attitude, coupled with his willingness to go the extra mile, make him a favorite of patients, their families, and staff members.
One example of his extra efforts: on Valentine’s Day, Dr. Scales helped to bring a husband and wife -- both trauma patients, but who were being cared for in different parts of the hospital -- together for this special day. Thanks to Dr. Scales, the husband was able to surprise his wife with a rose and a visit.
One of Dr. Scales’s nominators wrote: “The wife’s face lit
up, and she was very appreciative. Dr. Scales is, in every way,
an example of what this award means.”
Years of Service: 26
“I don’t want anything to happen to that little child,” was the only comment Judy made when taking it upon herself to drive, after her work shift, to another area hospital in order to pick up a specialized adapter needed for the child’s care.
The adapter was out of stock, and with no time to wait on shipment, the respiratory services team was able to locate one at another hospital. The clinical staff members were unable to leave either facility. After hearing the dilemma, Judy volunteered to pick up and deliver the adapter back to the unit right away. This kind of consistent team effort is what makes Judy so deserving of this award.
On her first day in the ICU, longtime nurse Debbie was called on to care for an employee’s mother. The patient was near the end of her life and had made her wishes clear to her family and her doctors: she wanted to be taken off of life support.
It was an emotional time for everyone, and Debbie was there
for the patient and her family. The patient’s daughter
describes Debbie as “a quiet, sweet angel who was in the room
every few minutes to make sure Mom was OK.” In many ways,
Debbie compassionately provided assistance and comfort to all
during the special, final minutes of the patient’s life.
Alison Toth, MD
Duke Sports Medicine – Orthopaedic Surgery
Years of Service: 13
Dr. Toth’s extraordinary kindness, caring, patience, and dedication to her work are what make her stand out, wrote her nominator, a Duke nurse.
Her nominator added, “She is very caring and will spend as much time as she needs to explain to patients and families what she is going to do during surgery and what she did during surgery…She is always telling you that you will get back to normal. She is one of the best role models for kindness and caring…She is one of Duke’s shining stars!”
A patient who had been on the unit for several months became an inspiration to the staff members of 3100. To show the patient and her daughter how much they thought of them, the nurses decided to have a “Spa Day” for them.
They collected enough money to send the daughter to a local
spa for some much-needed pampering and to give the patient her
own “Spa Day” at the hospital. She received a special gift bag
full of lotions and hand creams and time to have her hair
shampooed and her nails polished. Both patient and daughter
were extremely touched by the staff’s thoughtfulness.
Units 3200/3300/Heart and Respiratory Services
This team’s nominator wrote a heartfelt letter of his family’s appreciation and admiration for the quality care and compassion extended to his father and their family while their father was a patient at Duke.
He wrote: "The doctors, nurses, and medical support staff are the kind of good, high-quality, professional people that one thinks of and prays for when the terms 'medical' or 'hospital' come to mind...These are the kinds of people who go above and beyond the call of duty.
"The doctors, nurses, and medical support staff were consistently on point when it came to doing their respective jobs. They clearly work as a cohesive medical team -- a medical team with a practiced polish and delicate care. It is beyond my ability to comprehend how they do this on a daily basis.
"Additionally, the doctors, nurses, and medical support staff were consistently right there, all 'Johnny or Jenny on the spot' when it came to answering all of our many medical questions and concerns about my father’s conditions and progress. These talented professionals answered us in a way that a non-medical person could relate to and understand.
"These fine people would also make an extra effort to find the answer if they were uncertain, or refer us to someone else and follow up on that answer. This was done without any ego or hesitation and in a professional way.
"It is my sincere belief that had it not been for the nonstop and seemingly tireless team efforts of all these good people, my father would not be alive today. These are the kinds of people who make a difference and have earned recognition."
A longtime patient, who had been cared for at Duke University Hospital since she was four years old, was admitted because of a pre-term pregnancy coupled with a fragile pulmonary status.
The team’s nominator wrote: "The patient needed to be cared for on 5700 for the best outcome should emergent delivery have been required due to either deterioration of the mom’s or the infant’s condition. The nurses on 5700 needed assistance to manage the patient’s pulmonary status. In addition, since she had been a patient at Duke University Hospital for many years, the patient was nervous about being on a unit where she did not know the team.
"Nurses from 5300 volunteered to stay with the patient on 5700 to help manage her pulmonary care and to provide emotional support. Kathy Spitzer even went to the main OR with the patient for the baby’s delivery.
"Although the mom has since succumbed to her underlying
illness, the baby, although pre-term, was successfully
delivered. The teamwork between the 5300 nurses and physicians
and the OB nurses and physician team -- to provide exceptional
care in a very difficult patient situation -- should be
Unit 7800 Management
Yvonne Spurney, MS, RN, CCRN, Stephanie Niemchak, RN, BSN, CCRN, Jill Hanson, RN, BSN, and Kimberly Osborne, RN, BSN, CCRN, CN IV
When patients have long-term hospitalizations, staff develop longstanding relationships with the patients and their families. In instances when death and loss occur with these patients, compassion fatigue can happen.
The 7800 management team is commended for recognizing this and for providing a comforting environment for grieving and expressing feelings.
Their nominator wrote: “They have role-modeled leadership and commitment to the staff that they are entrusted with. The management and staff of 7800 are what strength, hope, and caring are all about. It is a privilege to work with all of them.”
This team was nominated by a co-worker for the excellent care provided to patients with diabetes. The nominator cited specific examples of care provided by the team, including a story about a patient who had type 1 diabetes.
The nominator wrote: "Self-starting and self-directed, they begin discharge planning and education upon patients’ admissions." The nominator went on to write about the patient, who had several challenging medical issues.
The nurses posted a behavioral plan of care in his chart box, reminding staff that the patient did not like to be touched and that he was not a 'morning person.' Every effort possible was made to control his blood glucose levels, in spite of many challenges faced by the nurses while providing care.
They were at the front line of the overall team caring for the patient. They worked with the sitters who were assigned to the patient and noted specific information about the varied times and amounts of food taken in.
When his mother visited, for the first time at the time of
discharge, they worked as a team to educate and engage her in
his home care. "Not enough good can be said about the staff
nurses on 8100 and 8300 for their excellent care and education
of patients with diabetes," the team’s nominator wrote.
Although she was exhausted from the long duration of his stay and deteriorating condition, a patient’s young wife did not want to leave her husband’s bedside. The nursing staff of unit 9100 volunteered in 20- to 30-minute shifts in order to stay by the patient’s side so his wife could get a few hours of sleep in the patient family room.
This, along with many other examples of going beyond the
call of duty, is the reason a longtime Duke employee nominated
this outstanding team for an award.
Years of Service: 2
As a patient transporter in Radiation Oncology, Chris is used to helping patients and their families in and out of the department. While checking on the patient parking area, he noticed a car moving erratically as it approached the parking zone for a patient drop-off.
After the patient went into the department, Chris went back out to check on the driver. The driver was escorted into the department where he was noted to have a high O2 level, but he did not want to go to the Emergency Department. After the patient finished his treatment for the day, Chris drove the patient and the driver back to their hotel where they could then make arrangements to get back home.
Chris did an excellent job of assessing a situation and taking the extra step to make sure the safety of the patient and others came first.
Kim’s nominator told of Kim’s consistent desire to assist patients on a daily basis. One example: when one of the PRT cars, filled with patients and visitors, stopped on the track, Kim made a makeshift sign for someone to press the red button. After doing so, she waited to make sure help arrived.
Another example: when Kim noticed that an elderly woman in a wheelchair seemed anxious, she stopped to ask if help was needed. The patient’s son had gone to retrieve his mother’s shoes, which had been left behind in one of the clinics, and he had been gone for a long time. The patient had begun to worry, especially since her son is diabetic. Kim assured the patient that her son would be found and asked security to look for him. She told the patient that if her son was sick he was in the best possible place. Kim sat with the woman for an hour. She held the patient’s hands and brought her water, until the son, and the patient’s shoes, had been located.
These are just a few examples, wrote the nominator, of Kim’s dedication to helping Duke University Hospital’s patients and their loved ones.
July 2006 - June 2007
July 2007 - June 2008
Meha Ballard, RN
Christine Beyer-McFarlane, RN
Ron Bolen, RN
Celia Cadilla, RN
Alison Clay, MD
Ellen Davis, RN
Sheree Dunn, RN
Jennifer Gentry, RN
Nancy Knudsen, MD
Nicole Larrier, MD
Kathryn Lyons, RN, BSN
Cory Miller, RN, BSN
Jessica Palmer, RN, MSN
Michael Reidy, MD
Ava Smith, RN
Katie Thalman, RN
Robin Wilson, RN
Susan Wright, RN
Dennis Yetsko, RRT, RCP
Anyone can nominate an employee for a Strength, Hope, and Caring Award. To increase your chances of writing a winning nomination, provide as much detail in your story as possible.
The very best stories highlight employees who go well beyond
expectations and whose actions reflect the very core of who we
are as an organization -- ones who provide Strength to people
when they are suffering, Hope to the people we serve, and Care
even beyond the clinical sense of the word. Our Brightest Stars
go beyond their assigned duties and epitomize employee
Thanks for sharing your stories of Strength, Hope, and Caring.
Printed nomination forms are available in plastic forms holders located beside the large Strength, Hope, and Caring poster displays in Duke University Hospital and in the Duke Clinic building. These posters and forms are located in the Duke South PRT lobby and in the Duke North hallway near the Mars Gallery art display cases. Nominators can mail these forms to the address noted on the forms or drop nominations into the wooden drop boxes conveniently located under the forms’ holders.
Printed nomination forms should be mailed to:
DUMC Box 3245
They can also be faxed to 919-681-2738.
Nominations can also be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not include confidential patient information in e-mails.
If you are a Duke University Hospital employee and would
like to submit a nomination via the Web, please visit
serviceimprovement.dukehealth.org and click on the SHC logo at the bottom of the page.
Please use the same nomination form for all categories of nominations. However, you may indicate the specific category in the text of your nomination. Nomination categories for Duke University Hospital are:
For more information about Duke University Hospital’s Strength, Hope, and Caring program, please call 919-681-6930.