Donna Coffey

Donna Coffey

Donna Coffey, RN, A.D.

Medical Interventional Cardiology
University of Tennessee Medical Center
Knoxville, Tennessee
United States
As a preceptor she has trained many new nurses: that not only do you have to do the right things medically, but that you have to put yourself in their place. She always says, “Think about it. What if that were you or your family?”

I nominate Donna Coffey for the DAISY Award because of her quiet empathy. I call it quiet because most people don’t see what I have. Donna is a “New Yorker” and doesn’t come in a patient’s room all bubbly and asking, “ How y’all doing today? Is there something I can get you, honey?” She appears very professional and focused. She is a stickler for details and has everything at her fingertips. Most recent labs-check! Last vitals-check! Assessment done-check! Tests to be completed-check! All the clinical intuition, professionalism, knowledge, and skills are what most people see. I have seen another side: the quiet empathy and persistence to advocate for patient and family centered care.

One example was a time we had an elderly man dying in room 823. No one on our floor could forget our “823” patients. It is closest to the nursing station, and the sickest patients seem to always get moved there. He was confused, weak, and desperately lonely. Sitters were obtained as much as possible. His son was the only one by his bedside. The son began having abdominal pain and we sent him to the ER. He had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. When he was discharged from surgery, he came right back to his dying father’s bedside. Time was running out. Now the son had a terrible migraine. His medicine was at home, and there was no one to bring it him. He didn’t want to leave his father’s side, and risk his father passing without a family member at the bedside. Donna was the Team leader that day, and the situation was brought to her attention. She called the surgeon to see if they could get him some migraine medicine. They said no, he was discharged. She called the UTH- MD who was taking care of the patient and explained how the son was in severe pain, sitting vigil for his father. Calls were made to Pharmacy. More calls to the doctor. Donna refused to give up as she watched the son sitting at the bedside with his head in his hands. She found out the Chaplain could also help. And after many calls and advocating for this family, the son was given the medicine he needed. The father died that night with his son at his side. As a preceptor she has trained many new nurses: that not only do you have to do the right things medically, but that you have to put yourself in their place. She always says, “Think about it. What if that were you or your family?”