Corey McWilliams
March 2024
University of Virginia Medical Center
United States




This was by far the best recovery, Corey made sure of it
I am a UVA RN and work as a Critical Care Resource. I first encountered Corey McWilliams in December after having had a hysterectomy and he was my recovery room nurse. I get profound Emergence Delirium from anesthesia and can be an absolute menace as I recover. Corey fought all my emergence demons with me, from the hallucinations and confusion to my quick escape tactics, even though I called him Conner the entire time.

Last October when I found out I had breast cancer and would need surgery I requested Corey personally to recover me and true to form I called him Conner again, and once again he did an excellent job taking care of me, down to even convincing that I was getting Tylenol not Altoids for pain. Unfortunately, pathology came back with positive margins and on January 2nd I had to have a second breast surgery and once again I went to Corey to ask him to recover me and he agreed. This was by far the best recovery, Corey made sure of it, this time he eliminated some of the demons that bother me as I emerge from anesthesia. Corey climbed up on a chair and removed the 2 red dots on the ceiling that have plagued my recovery every time. In my delirium I am convinced that those two red dots are actually the lights on a spaceship that I am tethered to. With those little red dots gone there was no spaceship in the Pacu, and he immediately removed my SCDs which I assume tether me to the spaceship. When the anesthesia attending came in to sedate me Corey advocated for me not to be sedated.

He knew my goal was to go home, and he asked if she would not sedate me but that he instead would keep me safe until I had metabolized the anesthetic, and all this while I was actively negotiating my escape at the foot of the stretcher. Corey’s care allowed me to be home that evening instead of having to be on hold. I can't express enough how grateful I am to have had Corey for all three of my anesthesia cases. His care of me was above and beyond. At any time, he could have asked to be assigned a different patient. He absolutely knew I am exhausting to recover because of delirium and how incredibly quick I am to spring out of the bed and yet still he was willing to take care of me.

This last surgery he didn't just face the demons with me, he helped eliminate them, first by removing those red ceiling markers on the ceiling. Not once did I discuss the lights on the spaceship and by holding off on further sedation he allowed me to recover so much quicker and get to go home hours ahead of time. I am so grateful for his care and I think he deserves the recognition of a DAISY Award, because he truly exemplifies going above and beyond for his patients and is a tremendous asset to the Medical Center.


Corey was my recovery nurse in the PACU after my reversal surgery on February 10. I understand that The DAISY Award was established to celebrate the extraordinary compassion nurses provide their patients and families every day. That criteria fits Corey to a T.

Corey is a highly skilled, extremely knowledgeable, compassionate RN who consistently displayed and promoted the highest ethical standards of what UVA would want in a team leader. He effectively demonstrated to me and my husband the true meaning of health facility/nurse/patient/family partnership and is a positive role model and from what we observed in the PACU he is a team player that is looked up to by his colleagues.

From the moment I awoke and became aware that my surgery was over and I was in recovery, Corey made me feel special. As I woke up from that deep slumber, I had a distinct feeling that I felt safe. Corey had a nice firm hand hold on mine that squeezed me reassuringly, he had a reassuring voice, and an overall presence that made me calm. I quickly asked for my glasses which he had ready... and soon I asked for my contacts which he gave me too- without questioning me. This little respectful gesture of understanding that I needed my contacts might seem small to most unimportant- but for me, it was normalcy, and being able to see properly means a lot to me.

Everything was just calm during that first little while- and that is because Corey just exudes calmness and reassurance. The whole PACU under his charge felt cohesive. The atmosphere was a place that makes waking up easier on the patient. Note that this shows Corey's leadership in that aspect. No tension was in the air.
The recovery unit was pretty full, as the floor wards were full, so I stayed down there with Corey for about 4-5 hours. Even as the charge nurse that Saturday, and with all of his other patients he had to take care of, Corey had a way of making me feel like I was the only one he had. I never felt forgotten or in need of anything. He kept me updated on what was going on.

Because there was such a long wait for a room on 5 Central, he said, as long as he didn't have a new patient to tend to, he offered and then went out to the waiting area and brought my husband back to be with me. I needed that—I needed my husband—and Corey knew it.

When he was free between his other duties, we got to chat a little, and he shared his story. I can tell you that it was impressive. UVA is blessed to have a man so knowledgeable and learned as a leader in their PACU. When a nurse takes the time to share their heart with a patient - it makes the whole experience feel less scary.
What makes Corey special and worthy of a DAISY Award? What sets him apart, besides his compassion? It is not just his skill as a nurse, but his ability to connect with me on a personal level. He made me feel special and safe.

Thank you, Corey from, not just me, but my husband and my family. Your care that Saturday afternoon set me up for an extraordinary recovery.
Forever grateful.