The Surgical Care Unit of Children’s National Medical Center

The Surgical Care Unit of Children’s National Medical Center, RNs and more

Surgical Care Unit
Children's National Medical Center
Washington, District Of Columbia
United States

Photo Caption: Row 1(left to right): Dr Randall Burd, Brittany DeWolf, PT, Eliana Maldonado, RN, Olayemi Ogunraiyewa, PCT, Mehalia Brown, Stephanie Schneider, OT, Catherine Williams, RN

Row 2: Dr Ivan Gutierrez, Julie Kelly, RN, Erika Hilborn, RN, Tiffani Pietrucha, RN, Janae Haug, RN, Meghan Mesa, RN

Row 3: Devon Haas, RN, Dr. Jarod McAteer, Ginger Winder, RN, Griselda Diaz, Amy Ballin (child life), Marie Ritzo, Yirgalem Habteslase

Row 4 (down staircase and across top) Elizabeth Waibel (NP), Raven McLeese, RN, Sara Talvacchio, RN, Barbara Floyd, RN, Modupeola Oluwole, RN, Lianna Colon, RN, Jason Woods, Catherine Walsh, NP, Caitlin Coogan, NP


This DAISY Team Award is based on the extraordinary teamwork and excellent care afforded to a 16-year-old burn patient. Everyone on the team participated in the effort, from the EVS employee assigned to the unit all the way up to our Chief of Surgery. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, our social worker and child life specialist, physical and occupational therapists demonstrated remarkable diligence and commitment to this patient’s physical and emotional recovery. The DC Burn Foundation became an important partner with the unit and worked with Surgical Care Unit (SCU) nurses to provide citywide resources.  Concierge Services also contributed to the efforts, providing the patient with comfort care, toiletries, and gift cards.

In short, the Surgical Care Unit Team demonstrated how to put the core concepts of family care – dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration into full practice.

The Story:

A massive explosion and fire, caused by a rapid gas leak in a Silver Spring apartment building on the night of August 10 collapsed four floors of apartments, killed seven and injured 30 people. Our patient was among those injured. She sustained second and third-degree burns to her face, neck, chest and arms.

She had arrived in the United States fewer than 24 hours earlier from her home in Ethiopia. Her intention was to finish her last year of high school in the United States. She had no family in the United States. Her parents reside in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Our patient was staying with family friends at the apartment building. These persons have been missing since the explosion and presumed dead. Our patient’s passport, visa, money and personal belongings were destroyed in the fire.

She was admitted to the Surgical Care Unit severely traumatized, physically and emotionally. She had no family, resources, place to live or money. She adamantly resisted calling her parents because she worried about the impact the information would have on her father’s health and the emotional impact it would have on her mother.

Our patient steadfastly refused to provide contact information for her parents. Our social worker recruited the unit’s Ethiopian EVS worker, Yirgalem Habteslase, to help allay the patient’s anxiety and establish trust with the team. Thanks to Yirgalem’s careful, culturally sensitive encouragement, our patient finally did provide the telephone contact for her mother.

The team kept our patient’s mother fully informed every day about her daughter’s care with the help of our telephonic interpretation services. Her mother was reassured and consulted on every aspect of her daughter’s care.

Simultaneously, the unit social worker worked with Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s and Senator Ben Cardin’s offices to obtain a visitor’s visa for our patient’s mother so that she could come to the United States and be a key source of support for her daughter. This effort took weeks but was ultimately successful.

The SCU interdisciplinary team met frequently to discuss the best care for the patient, given her unusual and complicated circumstances. She was moved close to the nursing station so that she could see someone at all times and thereby reduce her anxiety. Management advocated with the staffing office to keep her in a 3:1 assignment. Child life created a daily schedule with her, created distraction strategies and provided an IPad so that she could “Facetime” with her family in Ethiopia. Occupational and physical therapy worked with our patient twice a day in close coordination with the medical team to keep her pain under control. Concierge Services kept an eye on her needs for comfort items throughout her stay.

Our nurse practitioners worked diligently with our patient’s mother, using an Amharic interpreter so that she could fully understand how to care for her daughter’s burns after discharge from the hospital.

Nursing worked closely with the DC Burn Foundation and local firefighters who were eager to support our patient. Our patient turned 17 during her admission; the group threw her a birthday party and provided her with clothing and other gifts to replace what she had lost in the fire.

Many firefighters would visit our patient and bring Ethiopian food, trying it themselves for the first time. They would also come and have tea with her, a custom of special importance to the Ethiopian community.

Our social worker hand-carried documents to a Montgomery County Social Services agency to obtain medical insurance, housing for our patient and her mother, transportation to and from the hospital for her follow-up care in burn clinic, occupational and physical therapy. Our social worker also worked with the Ethiopian Embassy to replace our patient’s passport and visa.

The comprehensive, compassionate, and competent care afforded this patient hits every note in the themes of dignity and respect for the patient and her family: information sharing among the professional team and family every day; participation in patient care with the family, unit team, and outside resources; collaboration among the family and everyone on the unit from the EVS worker who calmed our patient on her first hours of admission to the nurses who attended to her needs throughout the day, the social worker who arranged to have the patient’s mother come to the US and obtain medical insurance, housing, and other supportive services,  the child life specialist who helped her cope with the admission, nurse practitioners who changed her dressings and taught her mother how to take over, and of course our extraordinary physicians who oversaw her care and recovery.


The following team members were honored with this DAISY TEAM Award:

Nursing (Surgical Care Unit):

Ginger Winder, MSN, RN, CPN, Manager of Surgical Care Nursing- Nursing Team Lead

Catherine Williams, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Neuroscience and Surgical Care Nursing

Kate Appiah-Offori, BSN, RN

Lianna Colon, BSN, RN

Stacey Elias, RN

Alex Evanzz, BSN, RN, CPN

Devon Haas, BSN, RN

Hannah Hanscom, BSN, RN, CPN

Janae Haug, BSN, RN

Elytia Hawkins, RN, CPN

Donna Hershey, MSN, RN, CPN

Erika Hilborn, BSN, RN

Oretha Johnson, BSN, RN

Julie Kelly, BSN, RN, CPN

Sonia Kerridge, MSN, RN

Jodi Klemowski, BSN, RN, CPN

Eliana Maldonado, BSN, RN

Tosin Oluwole, BSN, RN, CPN

Raven McLeese, BSN, RN, CPN

Meghan Mesa, BSN, RN, CPN

LeiAnna O’Laughlin BSN, RN

Chris Pacious, BSN, RN

Tiffani Pietrucha, BSN, RN

Shira Rosenbaum, BSN, RN

Zori Scur, MSN, RN

Soory Samiy, MSN, RN, CPN

Sara Talvacchio, BSN, RN

Sara Turner, BSN, RN

Caitlin Coogan, CRNP

Elizabeth Leachman-Dey, CRNP

Elizabeth Waibel, CRNP

Catherine Walsh, CRNP

Catherine Worst, CRNP


Atsede Merga, BSN, RN, CPN

Case Management:

Barbara Floyd, MSN, RN

Social Work:

Marie Ritzo, MSW, LICW

Trauma and Burn Team:

Randall Burd, MD

Ivan Gutierrez, MD

Physical /Occupational Therapy:

Arjoo Bhandari, OTR/L

Ashley Brandt, PT, DPT

Brittany DeWolf, PT, DPT

Stephanie Schneider, OTD, OTR/L

Child Life:

Amy Ballin

Environmental Services:

Yirgalem Habteslase


Adwoa Dadzie, PCT

Marie Laveus, PCT

Madeline McGrath, CCT

Yemi Ogunraiyewa, PCT

Nituna Phillips, PCT

Kiersten Waite, PCT

Evelyn Whitfield, PCT

Elizabeth Williams, PCT

Chris Yuen, PCT


Griselda Diaz

Michelle Lomax

Kathy Mooney Palmer

Regina Smith

Tawana Smith


Mehalia Brown

Angela Brown

Latoya Carroll

Shawnetta Floyd

Joeann Majors

DC Burn Foundation:

Dennis Carmody

Chief Donnelly

Eric McGuire

Jason Woods