Compassionate Care Recipient: Alison Marsh, RN, Centerpoint Medical Center, Independence, MO
Providing emergency care can be emotionally draining, especially when the patients involved are children. Finding ways to bring mental and emotional healing alongside physical treatments takes a special kind of healthcare professional, and Alison Marsh exemplifies what it means to go above and beyond for her patients.
Marsh is described as a compassionate advocate, skilled listener and dedicated caregiver, especially where children are involved. She sees a lot of them in Centerpoint Medical Center’s emergency department, where she has been on staff for five years, but one evening in the summer of 2015, all her skills came together to help one 7-year-old girl after she, her mother and her sister were in a severe car accident.
The child’s mother and sister were transported to other hospitals (where her 9-year-old sister died of her injuries), so she was all alone.
“She had very complex lacerations that needed to be repaired, and she would need to remain calm throughout the procedure,” recalled Dr. Erik Petersen, the department’s clinical chief, who was treating the patient. “Ali took time to download the movie Frozen, the patient’s favorite, to her phone so the patient could watch. Ali sang along with all the songs and danced around the room in an attempt to keep this little girl happy in a time of great tragedy.”
For several hours, as Dr. Petersen worked on the child, Marsh kept the little girl occupied, watching the movie with her and explaining what the doctors were doing.
Marsh, who currently is finishing her studies to become a nurse practitioner, will only say that she tries to provide the kind of care that she would for her own child if he or she were injured and scared.
“When children come into the ER, I want them to be comfortable even though it’s a bad, scary environment to them,” she says. “Helping people not be scared is a big reason why I became a nurse. I try to treat everyone I deal with as though they were a member of my family.”
“That poor little girl was covered in blood and had that ‘deer in headlights’ look,” she recalls. “I did everything I could to keep her relaxed, because it took about four hours to suture all of her lacerations, and we really didn’t want to have to sedate her. She came through like a champ.”
Compassionate Care Finalist: Elizabeth Caraway, RN, West Florida Hospital, Pensacola, FL
It’s been said that healthcare professionals make terrible patients. The opposite is true for Elizabeth “Libby” Caraway, a 33-year veteran of West Florida Hospital and, for a time a few years back, a patient for several months following an auto accident.
Every year, on the anniversary of her accident, she brings treats to the OR, emergency room and ICU staff who provided her care.
“Libby began her career here in the labor and delivery department, and was beloved by her patients,” says Brian Baumgardner, president and CEO. “After her accident, she transferred to the quality improvement department, where she worked tirelessly to improve patient outcomes and provide necessary education to physicians and staff. But she missed working directly with patients, and so she transferred to the Pre-Admission Testing Center and it’s not a surprise that she does an amazing job there.”
Caraway calms patients who are apprehensive about surgery, and has created special note cards that she writes a personal note on the day of the operation. She routinely goes above and beyond, even purchasing a magnetic cross that could be attached under the OR table for a patient.
“Libby communicates with patients and their families in such a calm, caring way that they immediately know that she has their best interests at heart,” Baumgardner says. “Time and time again, she has proven how valuable she is to our organization and how steadfastly committed she is to her patients and their needs.”
Compassionate Care Finalist: Ray Powell, RN, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, Austin, TX
The word “stellar” doesn’t get thrown around too often in performance reviews, but ask anyone at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center about Ray Powell, and that’s the word you’re going to hear.
“Every time Ray works we witness the caring in his heart for patients,” says Allen Harrison, chief executive officer. “He holds himself accountable to make the best decisions for the patient, staff and family. He rounds on patients with excellent communications skills, is warm, friendly, always helpful and willing to do whatever it takes to provide exceptional service.”
Stories abound of how Powell makes a difference for patients who are severely ill. One who was near death at admission fell under his care, and even during chemo treatments was soon able to use a walker for short trips down the hallway, while Powell “made the patient laugh and feel human again,” Harrison says.
“On another occasion, a homeless patient with a psych history and no home-delivery address needed oxygen for discharge,” he says. “Ray helped by contacting the local police department, who were able to help identify the patient’s family.”
The patient was safely discharged, and thanks to the new information was soon able to get Medicaid benefits and other community support.
“Ray treats every patient with the respect and kindness deserved; he makes them feel like they matter,” Harrison says. “He is an exceptional nurse who leaves no detail untouched.”