PITTSBURG — When people have a hospital visit their nurse is the person they rely on the most.
Ascension Via Christi Registered Nurses, Irene Gitundu, Katrina Fox, Jaimie Boulware and Melinda Adair were recently recognized for their efforts with the DAISY Award.

The DAISY Foundation was established by the Barnes family in 1999 following the death of J. Patrick Barnes who died at 33 years old of an auto-immune disease.

According to a release from Ascension Via Christi, “his family was awestruck not only by the immense clinical skill, but also the enormous compassion shown to Pat and all their family by the nurses who cared for him through that devastating time.”

To say “thank you” to the nurses, the family created the DAISY Award, which is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System, to help organizations across the world honor and celebrate nurses.

Nurses are nominated for the DAISY Award by patients, family members, physicians and fellow associates. The Award is given out quarterly.

According to the release, the criteria for the award are:
• Models empathy and demonstrates a sense of trust in all situations.
• Demonstrates extraordinary clinical skills in the delivery of compassionate patient care.
• Has a positive and demonstrates professionalism in the work environment.
• Exemplifies the mission, vision and values of Ascension Via Christi.
• Establishes a special connection with the patient and family.
• Went above and beyond to meet the needs of the patient and family.

Irene Gitundu
Gitundu, Medical/Surgery Registered Nurse, started out with a career in accounting at a hospital and she noticed that the office wasn’t a place she wanted to work, she wanted to visit with people.
“I really kind of liked the part where you interacted with people rather than being at the desk at the office doing paperwork,” Gitundu said.

Now she’s been a nurse for seven years.

Gitundu received two nominations. One was from a wife, whose husband was in the hospital.
“Irene has the pleasant and uplifting personality that can make even the grumpiest patient’s heart melt,” the patient’s wife wrote in the nomination. “She encourages with humor, reassures with kindness, and tackles even the most sensitive issues head on.
“My husband has COPD due to smoking and ends up with infection at least once a year that is life threatening. She is the only medical professional ‘doctors included’ who took the time to directly and compassionately to tell him to stop smoking NOW.
“He listened and promised to try. If he quits it will be because of her kind and direct support. As we left the hospital he remarked that someday that he could stop by and tell her ‘Hi.’ This is not his typical reaction and it only goes to show what a great impression she made.”

The second nomination applauded Gitundu for making others smile.
“Irene is great with her patients and is very attentive and is always doing her best to make her patients happy and comfortable,” the nomination said. “Her patients are always commending her work.
“The patients always seem to enjoy having her as their nurse. Irene is great with all other staff and tries to help others if she has the time. She is a hard worker and really seems to enjoy her job. I always look forward to seeing her smiling face on days that I’m here.”

Gitundu said thinks about how she would like to be treated if she were in her patients’ shoes when caring for them.
“For me, it is like, if I were in their hospital bed how would I like to be treated,” Gitundu said.  

Katrina Fox
Fox, a day surgery registered nurse, takes care of postoperative, outpatients and much more including coming out “on the floor” with the nurses.

Similar to Gitundu, Fox had a change of career. After her children reached high school she went back to school to become a nurse after being in the field of business. She’s been a registered nurse for six years now.

Fox was nominated four times, three nominations came from the same family. They described Fox as one “of the most attentive, caring and compassionate nurses,” they’ve met.
“She took wonderful care of my mother. She made sure mom was always comfortable, clean, and was in a cheerful and positive environment,” a family member said in the nomination. “Never made her feel like a burden. She was patient with mom and spent what time necessary with mom without making her feel rushed.”

The family of the patient also praised their mother’s nurse aides who were also “wonderful and caring.”
“When going through such a stressful time, it meant so much to have such confidence in the medical staff caring for our mother,” the family said.

Another family member added in the other nomination that  “The nursing staff was phenomenal, specifically Katrina (nurse), Tina (nurse aide), and Tiffany (nurse aide) were very caring and attentive” to their mother’s personal and medical needs.
“Their professional attitude and demeanor exemplify and embody what it means to be a nurse and nurse aide,” the family said. “Having been in the customer service business for more than 35 years, I couldn’t have asked for better service.
Their attention to my mother’s needs, their compassion and professionalism is second to none.”

Jaimie Boulware
Boulware, staff educator who was a then medical nurse when the nomination was made, decided she was going to be a nurse when she was in high school.
“When I was in high school, my neighbor that I babysat got Leukemia, he always talked about his nurses, I saw it first hand and the difference they made,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference like they did on his life.”

Boulware has been a nurse for five years, and is obviously making an impact.
An aunt of a patient nominated her for going the extra mile for her nephew.
“She went out of her way when we needed something,” the patient’s aunt said. “Very caring and compassionate. She would spend extra time with Trevor. She was never rushed to leave his room. She went above and beyond … Trevor always looked forward to seeing her. She made him smile and laugh! Without Jaimie I don’t know that our stay would have been as pleasant.”

The nomination was encouraging of the work she does on a daily basis, she said.
“It’s good encouragement that you are providing good patient care and emphasizes you established a good relationship with your patient and their family,” Boulware said.

Fox agreed and said, “and going the extra mile to make sure they had everything they needed to take care of them.”

Melinda Adair
Adair, works at the Via Christi Cancer Center where she gives chemotherapy, radiation and takes observations of patients. She’s been in the field of nursing for 23 years. Adair said she went into nursing because there were many different ways to help people, from intensive care to education.

The person who nominated Adair applauded her for spending an hour with a patient and his wife in the Emergency room where she explained the disease and treatment options.
“Melinda is not only a highly qualified Oncology Nurse, she is compassionate to her patients and her co-workers,” the person who nominated her said.