When we think of a teenager, we visualize them with their friends having a good time, going shopping and being carefree. Often they are healthy and they consider themselves “unstoppable or unbreakable”. This was not the case for a young girl who came in every two weeks to unit 5I for treatment. This young girl came in with her mother, often after school, with her heavy back pack and school books to receive blood transfusions. Our hearts went out to her that her life had to be altered and interrupted for her to come into the hospital to receive units of blood that kept her alive. Every 2 weeks she spent about 8 hours in the hospital. However, this young vibrant girl did not allow her illness to get in the way of her normal life. She received the blood transfusion as if it were part of her routine and kept going with a smile on her face. As she entered high school and was thinking about college, she stated to the nurses that she wanted to be a nurse and give back for all that we had done for her. We admired her for her dedication but questioned whether she would be able to function in the role of being a registered nurse which could be physically and emotionally challenging. However, this young girl proved us wrong. She went on and followed her dreams. She went to college, and came back every 2 weeks for her blood transfusions. During her summer break from college, she worked as a Nursing associate on 5I. She loved her role as a NT and was excited about becoming a registered nurse. She was an excellent nursing associate and interacted well with the patients. Four years passed quickly and she graduated and became a registered nurse. She interviewed for the floor she wanted to work on and was accepted into the position. With a little over a year as working as a registered nurse, this novice nurse has accomplished so much. Her performance as a registered nurse has been exceptional and her care compassionate and extraordinary, that we would like to nominate Michelle Chieco as a deserving recipient for the DAISY Award.
Michelle is now a full time registered nurse working on 5I with the pediatric and medical surgical population. Michelle consistently demonstrates excellence through her nursing practice. Being a patient herself, Michelle is clearly empathic toward her patients. She is able to calm and relieve the anxiety of all patients as evidence by her interaction with them. When others complain about a patient, Michelle helps you to look at the situation through the patient’s eyes, allowing the nurses to be more patient and understanding. Her caring body language, therapeutic communication skills, and inside knowledge of what patients are going through allows her to provide excellent and exceptional nursing care. The little things that Michelle does such as listening to patients, offering to hold their hands, sitting beside them as they vent about their feelings, help her patients alleviate their anxiety. As one looks into a pediatric patient room, they can observe Michelle interact with the pediatric patients. She explains everything she is doing to the mother and uses playful techniques when delivering her nursing care. She lowers herself to the level of the child and explains all procedures to them in a caring and compassionate manner alleviating their anxiety. She plays with them, sits beside them, and offers her time regardless of the busyness that is going on around her.
Michelle also connects with her adult patients. 5I had a patient who was mentally challenged and would talk and readily accept other health care providers in delivering care. Michelle spent a lot of time with this patient. She finally connected with this patient and the patient for the first time starting talking to Michelle and soon others. Michelle created a trusting environment for the patient that she opened up to other health care providers.
Other patients too respect Michelle and trust her as she advocates for her patients in meeting their health care needs. She collaborates with the health care team to meet the patient’s needs. If a patient has a need at home such as having a home health aide to help for a few hours at home to a mother who needs help with nebulizers to their home she finds the appropriate personal. Michelle has stated she loves her patients and loves what she does as a nurse each day. It is clearly evident that the care that Michelle provides to her patients is exceptional. As one reviews Press Ganey survey results, Michelle’s name is mentioned numerous times. She is described as “compassionate, caring, lovely, trustworthy, accountable, a true friend and role model.” On nurse manager rounds and discharge phone calls, Michelle is recognized as providing exceptional care. Michelle has being managed up and recognition has been given to her by the director of medical surgical nursing, Cathy Waters, as well as the VP of nursing, LeighAnn McMahon.
Michelle is also outstanding role models in our nursing community. The mission of White Plains Hospital Center states that “care and service will be delivered in a caring and compassionate manner; focusing on meeting the needs of the community…extend beyond inpatient and outpatient care to include assessing and improving the healthcare status of the local community, the professional community.” Michelle along with her family runs the Westchester- Rockland chapter of the Cooley's Anemia Foundation. Each year she and her family have a large fundraiser for over two hundred people. Michelle helps run the fundraiser with her parents and always give a speech. In addition this past fall, she testified before a FDA advisory panel to get approval of the trial medication for anemia which she is an actively participant in the trial. Michelle usually participates in the lobbying for the foundation before the FDA or congress. In addition, Michelle has been involved in creating educational information for schools that patients with thalassemia attend. Michelle is also helping to create an Iron Warriors website that will be a site for children with thalassemia to visit with interactive stories and games that promote chelation compliance. Finally she will be speaking at the thalassemia patient conference in June about "how to speak to your peers about thalassemia".
Who would have thought a young girl with a chronic illness would one day become a registered nurse taking care of others. It is clearly evident that Michelle’s job performance exemplifies the mission, vision, and goals of White Plains Hospital center.
Michelle is also an advocate not only to her patients but to her staff members as well. She is the co-chair of 5I Unit council and is a strong advocate in meeting the needs of the council. She brings up issues from the council to management and offers feasible solutions. She is also actively involved in the professional development council. She communicates the accomplishments of the council to other staff members to keep them abreast of the council activities. She also brings issues and concerns from other staff members to the council so that changes can be made to address the issues.
Michelle also functions as a preceptor. She takes extra time to explain procedures and policies and answers all questions patiently and politely. Michelle’s demeanor creates a comfortable environment for novice nurses to transition into the workforce. Other nurses feel comfortable approaching Michelle and acknowledges her as a problem solver, mentor, and a great teacher on the unit. Michelle never hesitates to question anything that is unclear to her as well. She believes that you never stop asking questions. Michelle’s performance portrays the meaning of a hard working nurse with leadership qualities. Michelle consistently demonstrates an outstanding contribution to the profession of nursing. Michelle has excellent assessment skills which allow her to identify early signs and symptoms of changes in a patient’s condition. She utilizes her educational preparation and critical thinking to intervene appropriately to create positive patient outcomes. She alerts doctors or other health care providers of changes in patient status so that intervention can be made to correct the problem. As a practicing nurse, she takes on her own initiatives by attending educational sessions that would ultimately benefit her patients and increase her own knowledge. This ambition truly demonstrates a commitment to professional development and life long learning. Currently, Michelle is working on entrance to graduate school to pursue her goals of being a nurse practioner.
We strongly feel that Michelle Chieco truly deserves this award for her excellent contribution to the nursing profession. Michelle fosters a positive public image of nursing and demonstrates the meaning of a hard working individual and exemplary nurse. She inspires others to continue education and follows her dreams. Her tremendous effort and dedication to nursing deserves to be acknowledged as she inspires other individuals as well to work toward their goals in achieving excellence in nursing. Michelle clearly fits the definition of a true professional role model, providing a positive image for those around her to emulate.