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Nurses honored through DAISY award

Bonnie Barnes, far right, presents Warren Memorial Hospital's first DAISY award to registered nurse Dierra Holbrook as Terri Wright, vice president of nursing at the hospital, looks on. Barnes and her husband are founders of the award, which recognizes nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty. Kim Walter/Daily

Mark Barnes, co-founder of the DAISY award, spoke Wednesday morning during Warren Memorial Hospital's first award presentation. Kim Walter/Daily

By Kim Walter

FRONT ROYAL -- The DAISY award has now spread to Page and Warren Memorial Hospitals.

The award, co-founded by Mark and Bonnie Barnes of Glen Ellen, Calif., recognizes nurses not only for doing their jobs, but also for the way they deliver care with compassion and sensitivity. The couple was present at Warren Memorial Hospital on Wednesday morning for a special DAISY award presentation.

The pair decided to start the DAISY foundation in 1999, after the sudden death of Mark's son, Patrick. Just six weeks after Patrick and his wife gave the couple their first grandchild, the 33-year-old woke up one morning with blood blisters in his mouth.

Bonnie Barnes continued explaining how Patrick wound up having a low platelet count, and was quickly rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for about eight weeks.

"The outcome, obviously, was horrendous," she said, speaking to a room full of nurses, Valley Health administration and board members. "But we sat down as a family and started thinking about what we could do to fill the gaping hole in our hearts. What did the whole experience mean? We soon realized what we thought about day in and day out were Pat's extraordinary nurses."

Bonnie Barnes said it wasn't just the clinical skill the nurses exemplified that was most impressive - it was how they delivered the care. She said during her stepson's stay in the hospital, she had a hard time looking at him as the gruesome disease took its toll. Instead, she focused on the monitors.

However, the nurses sat down with Patrick and kept their eyes on him.

"They didn't need the monitors, they knew him," she said. "The connection the nurses made with Patrick and our whole family made such an impact on us that when he died, we had to find a way to say thank you for the commitment nurses have made of their lives to all the rest of us."

DAISY stands for diseases attacking the immune system, since that was what Patrick suffered from. From there, a foundation was created, and the award started spreading to medical facilities nationwide.

Bonnie Barnes said she had initially promised her husband that once the award was taking place in 15 hospitals, she would stop. However, today nurses are honored at almost 1,500 health care facilities in 11 countries.

Patients, family members, friends and co-workers submit nominations for DAISY winners, who are typically honored on a quarterly basis. They receive a certificate, daisy pin, a bouquet of flowers, cinnamon rolls and a special hand-carved gift.

The winner Wednesday morning was Dierra Holbrook, registered nurse circulator in the operating room and the endoscopy suite.

Terri Wright, vice president of nursing at Warren and Page Memorial, proudly announced the nominees and winner, and read a short write up about Holbrook, holding back tears.

"This is very emotional for me, because it's personal. I know these nurses, and I know what they do every day," she said. "[Dierra] was nominated by a friend of a patient, for going out her way to speak with her after the friend came out of surgery. "

Wright went on to describe Holbrook as "gentle, compassionate and personable with patients and families." She was also called a true team player, who is a "joy to work with."

Bonnie Barnes presented Holbrook with her numerous gifts, and explained the importance of the sculpture.

"This is the Healer's Touch, and it is carved by members of a tribe in Zimbabwe. Each one is signed by the artist," she said. "When we visited the tribe, we learned how they view their healers with the utmost respect and gratitude, so we thought, who better to create a gift for our honorees?"

The DAISY Foundation (www.daisyfoundation.org) currently employs 14 full-time artists in the tribe.

Mark Barnes explained that the cinnamon rolls came from one night in the hospital with Patrick. He brought one to his son, who ate the whole thing. Later on, Patrick asked his father to bring more rolls the next day - enough for himself and every one of his nurses.

Barnes admitted that there is one thing about nurses that has always bothered him.

"You continue to say, 'I didn't do anything special, I'm just doing my job,'" he said, looking around the room. "But Bonnie and I never understood ... can't you see what you're doing, how much of an impact you have?"

The couple visited a military hospital not long ago to present an award. There, Mark Barnes encountered the base's commander, who was an admiral and physician. Barnes asked the man why nurses continued to insist that they did nothing but their job.

"He looked at me and said, 'of course they say that, because they are heroes, and that's what heroes do,'" he said. "So, it's OK to 'just keep doing your job,' and it's OK if 'you aren't doing anything special,' but just remember this: You are a nurse, you are a hero, and you make the world a much, much better place."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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