Margien Cooley
January 2017
OR Anesthesia
University of Virginia Health System
United States




How many patients have the opportunity to remember the compassionate care given to them by their nurse anesthetist? I am one!I've had several major surgeries in my life, but I've never had one where I was conscious 75% of the time. I underwent a thyroplasty to treat a paralyzed vocal cord. Margien came into my room before I was wheeled down to the OR and introduced herself with a lot of enthusiasm and a big smile for so early in the morning! I needed to go to the restroom one more time before my surgery and without me asking for any assistance, she immediately helped me out of bed and walked me down the hall to the bathroom, talking to me the whole time and making jokes. She waited for me and walked me back to my room and helped me get comfortable again. This very first interaction helped calm my anxiety and trepidation about being awake and in possible discomfort during the surgery. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Prior to being sedated for the first part of the surgery, Margien assured me that she and everyone in the OR were working together to make this surgery as comfortable as possible. I closed my eyes confident that this would be the case. When I was awakened to participate, Margien was always there to reassure me that all was fine and that I was doing well. I remember her stroking my forehead and speaking softly to me when I became anxious and agitated several times during the course of the four-hour surgery. What kindness she showed!I remember being able to calm down and participate the way my surgeon needed me to. When I would hear her voice (I couldn't see her during the surgery) either talking to me or responding to the surgeon, I knew everything would be alright. While walking the empty halls on the second floor of the hospital later the next morning at 4AM, I saw the poster for the DAISY Award and knew that I would nominate Margien for this award when I returned home and was well on my way to recovery.
From my perspective as the patient, Margien was able to quickly establish a relationship with me which was extraordinary given the very short time that she had to do so. The level of trust that I had in her through the course of my surgery was absolutely essential to its success. Without her compassion, constant reassurance, and care throughout my surgery, I don't know if I could have lasted the entire four hours. She and my surgeon worked well together from my perspective on the table. Her high level of professionalism was crystal clear. I couldn't see the teamwork, but I could hear it.Margien's compassion and skill in the OR truly have a significant impact on patient care, however, not many patients are able to experience it first-hand like I did!