Our son had special needs and was non-verbal. He was at U of M hospital off and on for four months. The care he received from all the staff was exceptional, but one nurse, in particular, stood out from the rest. The nurse who went above and beyond was Lisa Jastrzembski when he was on the 8 floor in intermediate intensive care.
He was diagnosed with late-stage untreatable esophageal cancer, had pulmonary deficiencies from birth, and further complications from the endoscopy that revealed his cancer.
Our son liked to joke around and tease everyone. Even though he was non-verbal, Lisa quickly became in tune with him. She was able to joke and tease and really brightened his spirits during his stay.
On one occasion, he had inadvertently broken the overhead light in his hospital room in such a way that it was stuck on 24/7. The maintenance team was unable to fix the light for a day or two. Lisa made a blanket fort over him to block out the light and allow him to sleep. We heard the next day how much fun they had building the blanket fort.
Lisa noticed small changes in our son's comfort and vitals through his body language and signs. Routinely she made suggestions to the doctors and respiratory therapist's on how his care could be optimized. Our family felt that she had a direct impact on the treatments he received and to a great effect. Lisa was always trying to problem solve and think critically, no matter what the problem was. She understood how to get the most out of the hospital's available resources in ways that we had not seen from any other nurse.
Lisa tried to get our son as a patient any night she was able to. Having the continuity was helpful for us and for our son.
If Lisa was on, we could rest easy, and he clearly felt the same way as he would ask every night if Lisa was going to be his nurse. Once he knew Lisa would be taking care of him, he'd shoo us out so we could get some much-needed rest.
Our son was at high risk for aspiration due to the esophageal mass and his reluctance to sit up in the bed. When he required immediate respiratory treatment, Lisa would suction his trach and perform cough assists when the respiratory therapists were unavailable. We believe Lisa, along with the help of antibiotics, helped him recover from pneumonia on more than one occasion.
He also received a J-tube and G-tube during his stay. We had a lot of difficulty towards the end with the tubes, and Lisa notified the doctors when the G-tube was not functioning properly and continued tirelessly to try to find a solution so he could continue to receive nutrition. When the tube started to leak and cause irritation at the site, Lisa brought in wound care and they educated all of us on how to better care for the site given the situation.
Our son also experienced oxygen hunger due to his trach, and Lisa acquired a battery-operated fan to help circulate the air around his face. The fan made a huge difference in the comfort and anxiety levels of our son. So much so that he later acquired a second fan and rotated through each fan as the batteries ran down. He wouldn't let those fans out of his sight.
Lisa spent time teaching the whole family how to care for the medical equipment. She motivated us to learn as much as we could, and it was because of Lisa's training that he was able to spend as much time at home as he did. Her training and encouragement gave us the confidence to take him home with the aid of hospice. We are forever grateful that he was able to pass comfortably in his own home with all of us surrounding him.
Lisa treated our son with empathy and respect. No different than we expect she treats all her patients. She did not see him as having a disability or as a lost cause with terminal cancer. Lisa was amazing with him and with us. Her tireless efforts to provide personalized comfort and care left a lasting impression on all of us. It is with this sampling of Lisa's clinical skills, compassionate care, exemplary service, and continued commitment to excellence that makes her a DAISY Nurse.