I would like to recognize Nurse Jessica Casey for her amazing dedication and creativity in organizing a gesture to lift the spirits of one of our lung transplant patients.
This patient in particular spent over a month in the ICU pre-operatively once listed for a lung transplant, being supported by significant amounts of oxygen while waiting for lungs suitable for donation. He kept his spirits up but often needed encouragement from the staff. Jessica, who splits her time as a charge RN and bedside RN, developed a bond with this patient and his sister from the very beginning. When word came that he would finally be transplanted, the unit celebrated. His post-operative recovery, however, proved to be filled with speed bumps. Jessica noticed when our patient reached a point where he questioned undergoing such a large surgery and was determined to remind him why he had chosen this difficult path.
Through many conversations with this patient and his sister, Jessica had learned that he loved to refurbish classic cars. She sat in my office one morning to make a phone call, requesting a personal favor to see if a friend would be willing to bring his classic car to the hospital that weekend for our patient to see. Once she confirmed that the car would be coming, she mentioned her plan to other nurses on the unit. This was the spark that Jessica provided, that I believe truly brought out the best in Team 87. Other staff members loved the gesture, and another nurse even suggested putting out a call to local car clubs inviting them to show off their cars to lift the spirits of someone having a tough time in the ICU.
Within days, Jessica had received calls from all over the state from classic and custom car owners who wanted to be involved. She was suddenly arranging a large-scale event and managed every aspect with enthusiasm and grace. She checked with unit leadership to ensure that the scale of the event would not create issues for the hospital. She secured the donation of a banner to commemorate the event and let this patient know that we “[had his] back”. She communicated with the valet in front of the HVN tower to ensure that the path was clear for the classic cars to drive through where our patient could see. She coordinated for another charge nurse to come to watch over the unit while she took our patient downstairs. She notified the charge nurses of all HVN units that day of the timing so that they could bring patients downstairs or to the windows where they could enjoy the parade. She recruited her co-workers to come in on their days off and be part of the event, some even meeting the cars off-site and leading the caravan down Archer road to the Circle of Hope.
Jessica chose to focus on the pieces of nursing care which give us the opportunity to make our patients feel whole, and in doing so, truly brought out the best in the entire staff. The sincerity and grandness of her gesture were mirrored in enthusiasm from all disciplines, including valet workers, support technicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. What turned out to be a Classic Car Parade of nearly 60 cars from all over the state, began with a nurse who wanted to remind the person in the bed why they chose to undergo life-changing surgery in the first place. Jessica’s small spark grew into a massive symbol of hope and support, and has set the tone for the holistic care Unit 87 is proud to provide. While most days do not include a parade, the staff continued all aspects of this patient's care with the same grace and kindness, day after day, until last week when he had progressed to the point that he was able to leave the ICU after over 200 days.
Jessica is a DAISY Nurse not only for her personal commitment to delivering holistic care but also for the impact she has made on the culture of the unit. The lasting effect of the spark she provided has been echoed in a multitude of gestures of similar kindness within the unit. Since this event, both seasoned and new nurses alike have coordinated to bring joy to patients with lengthy ICU stays. Rooms have been decorated like a seascape for patients who opted for transplant in hopes of returning to scuba diving, and nurses have come in on their days off to celebrate holidays and birthdays with our patients. Each of our nurses is passionate about delivering the highest quality care, but I truly believe that Jessica helped pave the way for our nurses to tap into their most compassionate and creative selves to engage with our patients.