Liza Hagenswold is the nurse every family member and friend of the patient hopes for; the kind who will care for their loved one with empathy, compassion and grace, while keeping them safe.
Recently, I was caring for a post-surgical patient and I needed to step away for a few minutes. I asked Liza, our charge nurse, if she would assume care of the patient in my absence. This particular patient had recently suffered a miscarriage; sadly, one of many for her. She was understandably upset and crying softly. Liza walked over and introduced herself quietly and calmly and began to comfort the patient.
When I returned, Liza had brought the patient’s husband to the bedside in an effort to ease her sadness. I resumed care of the patient, but Liza remained at the bedside talking with the couple. They were discussing their heartbreaking journey of trying to become parents. The couple spoke of loss and heartache time and again. The patient mentioned they had considered adoption, but were discouraged by the immense costs and difficulties associated with the process. Liza then asked the couple if they minded her sharing her own story of adopting a child. They were more than willing to listen and Liza began to speak.
Liza spoke of her own journey of heartache and loss. You see, Liza and her husband had a beautiful baby girl. Liza had complications with her pregnancy and her baby was born prematurely with multiple life-threatening health issues. Baby spent several months in the hospital before she ultimately succumbed to illness. Liza and her husband were devastated; their dream of bringing their sweet girl home from the hospital healthy and well was crushed. They lost their hope…for a time.
Liza began to feel a calling to adopt a baby. Something was telling her that adoption was the answer to their heartache. She then went on to share with the couple everything about the adoption process, piece by piece, so they could have a better understanding of it, to discern if adoption would be the answer for them as well. She was patient with all of their questions and was as open and honest as I could ever expect a person to be. Liza told them all about their son who came along to save them and bring joy back to their lives. She also shared how she was able to give birth to a healthy baby girl several years later. I watched as the couple’s expressions went from those of sadness to hope over the course of the conversation.
I said I resumed care of the patient; however, the care of the patient was given by Liza in the truest sense of the word. With their permission, she opened up to them and shared an important part of her life story in an effort to offer comfort and hope to this sweet couple. The patient and her husband moved on from the PACU with smiles and laughter, inspired, no doubt, by Liza’s kindness.
The DAISY Award was created to honor those nurses who endeavor to deliver “skillful and compassionate care” day in and day out. This could not be a more fitting description of Liza, and the story I shared is just one of many examples of the extraordinary care she gives to our patients and their loved ones, as well as the staff of her unit. She leads and guides the PACU as one of the unit’s charge nurses. Liza advocates for the unit, and is always ready and willing to step in and help, resolving issues along the way for staff, physicians and patients. She truly has a servant’s heart and is the epitome of a DAISY Nurse.