Kimberly Sleeper

Kimberly Sleeper

Kimberly Sleeper, BSN, RN, CPON

Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Lebanon, New Hampshire
United States

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Kimberly Sleeper, RN, in the Pedi-Oncology Clinic was the first Dartmouth-Hitchcock nurse to receive The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
In a surprise celebration in the Pedi-Oncology Playroom, Kim was greeted by her colleagues and with hugs from the family who nominated her for the DAISY award– Michael and Liz along with their sons, Will, Jake and 13-year-old Joseph. As the celebration began, Joseph, Kim's patient for over seven years, presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
Before reading the nomination letter written by Joseph's mom Liz, Linda von Reyn explained how the Professional Development Council brought The DAISY Award to the institution, as a way “to honor nurses who are at the bedside or with our patients every day.”
In February 1999, then two-year old Joseph came to DHMC with a rare form of Loeffler’s eosinophilic disease. Liz described in the nomination letter how Joseph thought Kim lived at DHMC, “because she was always there when he needed her.” The Pediatric Oncology Department was soon dubbed “Kim’s House” by Joseph, and for many years it was the family’s home away from home. When Joseph was an inpatient at CHaD, Kim would visit him after her shift and sit with him and rock him if he was feeling ill. Liz went on to say that “Kim treated Joseph like a child, not a cancer patient. Kim played with him, joked with him and kept him smiling.”
In May 2007 the family was hit with another challenge when Liz was diagnosed with cancer. Like she had for Joseph, Kim became a calming presence for Liz, often coming after her shift, “to sit and talk, and keep me smiling and laughing,” she wrote. Liz recalled one day how Joseph had sat on the edge of her hospital bed and asked if she was afraid. “Knowing that I couldn’t fool him with a fake answer, I replied, ‘maybe a little.’” Joseph told her “you shouldn’t be, because this is Kim’s House and Kim will be there for you just like she was always there for me."
At the ceremony Kim was presented with The DAISY Award certificate and a DAISY pin, “to wear and remind you that you are an extraordinary nurse,” said von Reyn.
An integral part of the celebration is also the presentation of cinnamon rolls. Linda von Reyn told the story of The Barnes family, who in 2000 established The DAISY Foundation in honor of their son, J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from complications of the autoimmune disease Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura: one day Patrick’s dad was eating a cinnamon roll and Patrick asked for some. He then asked his dad to bring him one the next day, “and to bring enough for all the nurses.” “The Barnes’ family,” von Reyn explained, “wants nurses to stop each time they smell cinnamon and remember how extraordinary they are.”
Lastly, von Reyn presented Kim with A Healer’s Touch—a hand-made serpentine stone carved by the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe, Africa—saying its intent was “for you to remember you have a healing touch.”
“This is so unexpected,” Kim said after the nomination letter was read. “I have wonderful memories of your family and appreciate you letting me take care of your family’s life. It’s so nice to see all of you.”
Kim, who has been a nurse for 21 years, said, “I can’t imagine anything else I would want to do.”