Katherine Whitlow
July 2019
Level 8- Medical Unit
Children's Hospital Colorado
United States




Kathy has been a substantial member of our inpatient medical team for nine years. She has been committed and consistent with her mission to improve the lives of children throughout her career and in her personal endeavors. In addition to her role as a bedside nurse caring directly for acutely ill patients, she also functions as a support to her peers as a relief charge nurse, preceptor, ethics subcommittee member and end of life liaison. In her role as end of life liaison, she works to create a supportive environment for our team members and to promote meaningful end of life experiences through resource application, moral distress rounds and REST debrief organization.
Kathy also works hard to support her community and the development of her team by supporting local fundraising efforts. She organizes fundraising for The Women's Bean Project in order to provide scholarships for her peers to attend medical Spanish classes. She also volunteers regularly to support the children of CHCO and her community by being a CHCO Prom chaperone and with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Kathy continues to grow professionally, supporting families through the pursuit of her Master's in Public Health where she is focusing work around nutrition programming for at-risk youth. Kathy is known for her expertise in clinical care, calm demeanor, willingness to help others and her cultural sensitivity.
While Kathy has cared for and advocated for so many of our patients, one stands out as an example of her dedication to providing truly multidisciplinary and family-centered care. C is a bright young Hispanic male, admitted to the inpatient liver service for idiopathic hepatomegaly thought to be related to Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). His case was not a straightforward one from a medical standpoint nor from a resource standpoint. C's father was recently incarcerated by ICE which left his mother caring for C and several other children at home. In addition, Cs mother was Spanish speaking only and unable to read or write. The language barriers, financial constraints, and a very complex medical diagnosis and hospital course created significant threats for Cs prognosis and ability to be successful at home with his family.
Kathy, along with other team nurses, approached our GI nurse practitioner to propose an interdisciplinary and culturally sensitive action plan for C. The goal was to get C home in a safe manner, where his mother would understand his medical course, be able to safely administer his many medications and be able to continue medical follow up so that C's health would continue to improve. Medication administration alone required vigilant teaching and planning to ensure that each medication could be identified without having to read the label. Without a plan to ensure the success of this family, C would potentially need a liver transplant.
Kathy coordinated with our child life specialist and other team members to create a medication schedule with color-coded stickers. The primary team of nurses used the chart to educate and ensure that Cs mother would be able to identify which life-saving medications should be given when, and how much should be administered. This education took weeks to complete and Kathy continued to lead the work for Cs care throughout his stay. She also went above the call of duty to collaborate with her leadership, fellow nurses, NPs, MDs, child life specialist and social work to troubleshoot problems before they started and set our outpatient teams up to continue the care started while inpatient. She initiated communication for the team to identify potential hiccups that the family might face once they were discharged which allowed education on action planning for each potential barrier. Something as simple as a syringe getting lost had the potential to wreak havoc on the success of this family being at home together and for Cs overall well-being.
Kathy's dedication and passion for this patient and the care she provides impressed our entire team. From taking time and explaining a complex medical diagnosis, to her creative development of a medication chart for Cs mother to use, Kathy was always a great advocator for C and his family. Her passion helped drive our team to provide the best possible care to C and his family. Kathy is an amazing representation of the best parts of the nursing profession and we want to recognize her for her incredible contribution to those she serves and works with.