Melissa Pritchett is a nurse in the outpatient Department of Neurosurgery who provides consistent and exceptional care to our patients. As a nurse and member of my team, she truly embodies many of the core qualities of the DAISY Award criteria. Melissa has been a neurosurgery nurse for many years, and her compassion for this patient population remains strong. I work alongside Melissa every day. She consistently interacts with patients in a caring and compassionate manner, helping patients and family members navigate through the health care system during some of the most challenging moments of their lives. Melissa spends a great deal of time interacting with patients over the phone. She delivers information regarding diagnoses, treatment plans, and medical advice. She has a unique gift of connecting with patients and family members. One of the characteristics that makes Melissa so extraordinary is her ability to identify specific issues or concerns and to prioritize them to determine what needs to be managed first. She works diligently to ensure patients and family members feel comfortable and happy with the plan and outcome.
Melissa makes an outstanding team member. She constantly works hard every day to ensure our team stays up to date on tasks. She works daily to ensure charts are up to date, and that we have all the necessary information to make clinic run smoothly. Melissa receives and makes calls on a daily basis to our patients who will, or have already undergone a neurosurgical procedure. She is able to make assessments over the phone, and determine an appropriate plan of action. She collaborates extremely well with all members of our team, including an RN, NP, MD, and our administrative assistant. She works hard and is simultaneously a great pleasure to work alongside. She makes working a fun activity with her easygoing demeanor. She maintains a positive attitude even in light of complex and challenging patient scenarios that occur. Melissa provides great comfort to patients coming in for clinic appointments and adds a personal connection to their visit. I know that I can depend on Melissa to tackle any issue or problem. She will contact and employ appropriate resources as needed to ensure optimal patient satisfaction and outcomes. As a nurse in the department, Melissa also collaborates with other teams and works well even in unfamiliar environments.
I would like to highlight one particular patient experience, during which Melissa performed well above and beyond her standard job requirements in order to not only ensure a positive impact for the patient, but also one in which she strove to ensure comfort, safety, and happiness for the patient, family members, and nursing staff. We had a patient who has a history of schizophrenia with previous self-injurious and aggressive behavior necessitating long-term care at Western State Hospital. He was sent to our office for evaluation of impaired gait and urinary incontinence with hydrocephalus on imaging. He presented to our clinic restrained in a wheelchair with nursing staff and security staff from WSH. Part of the typical evaluation in a case like this involves neuropsychological testing and physical therapy evaluation before and after having a high volume lumbar puncture. This is typically done in a one-day stay, however, for this case, we knew we would have to make alternative arrangements.
Melissa immediately took ownership of this case and worked diligently to explore options. She contacted the physician at Western State Hospital to find out more information about this patient and how we could work together to get this testing done. She communicated with a huge interdisciplinary team at UVA, including nursing staff, nurse managers, NPs, physical therapists, physicians, UVA security, administrators, and many more. She communicated with the patient’s parents to explain the process, arrange dates and times that would work with their schedule, and answer questions. She collaborated with WSH staff to develop a treatment plan for this patient to provide outcomes and goals to promote cooperative behavior. Melissa gathered needed information regarding this patient’s medical and surgical conditions as well as a current medication list. She disseminated this information to all members of the inpatient team who would be directly caring for him.
On the day of his admission, Melissa went to 6 West to have a huddle meeting with the inpatient nurses, NPs, CNS, and nurse manager. She provided a summary about the patient and what his plan would be for that day, including specific times for activities. She answered questions and reviewed his treatment plan. She rounded later that day with Dr. H., to ensure patient and staff comfort. The patient was comforted seeing her familiar face. The patient ultimately underwent testing without any issues, and fortunately, will not need any further neurosurgical testing or interventions at this time and he was then discharged back to WSH.
The inpatient team provided feedback about how much Melissa’s preparation for this admission impacted the hospital course. Other medical teams would have been very hesitant to admit this patient and perform an invasive procedure such as a lumbar puncture. Melissa spent countless hours over several months evaluating and implementing this plan. Without her involvement in this case, the patient, staff, and family would have been subject to a much different experience. I know that Melissa’s significant involvement, in this case, directly correlated to a positive outcome. Melissa worked diligently to ensure comfort, safety, and happiness for this patient, his family, and numerous staff in the medical center.
This is but one example of Melissa’s hard work and her consistent strive to provide compassionate and excellent care to our patients. I know that my patients are in better care with her on my team. She works and communicates well with interdisciplinary team members. She has a close and productive working relationship with me and my other direct team members. Her hard work deserves to be recognized.