Published on Monday, November 4, 2019
By: Ruth Cummins, [email protected]
It was about a year ago that 4 Wiser nurse manager LeAnn Harcharik got the call from a frantic nurse on her floor: My dad’s been hurt, he’s coming to UMMC, and they say he might not make it.
The nurse wanted the chance to tell him goodbye, but she was almost two hours away, preparing to drive her elderly mother to Jackson. Harcharik long-distance wrapped her arms around her coworker and made it happen.
She walked to the injured man’s bedside and held her cell phone to his ear. His daughter was able to give him her love.
“It was hard for me to do that, but she trusted me with the most precious gift that I could give her,” said Harcharik, whose 19-year career has been spent at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
On Friday, Harcharik became the first person to receive UMMC’s DAISY Nurse Leader Award, a highlight of the Medical Center’s celebration of its 10th year of awarding DAISY recognition to exemplary nurses and the national DAISY program’s 20th anniversary.
Until this year, only a handful of UMMC unit nurses or nursing teams each year received a DAISY, which stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. Going forward, one DAISY Nurse Leader Award will be presented annually so that nurses who make a difference in a leadership role can also be recognized, said Patrice Donald, magnet program manager in the Office of Nursing Quality and Development.
“They exhibit trust, compassion, mutual respect and ethical behavior,” she said of the 15 nominees. “They promote and enhance the image of nursing in the workplace, the community and the profession.”
Established in 2000 by members of the family of former patient Patrick Barnes, the California-based DAISY Foundation presents the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses to the unsung heroes of the profession. Winners are nominated by anyone in their organization, plus patients or patient family members.
About 1,700 health care facilities in all 50 states and in 11 other countries honor their nurses with the DAISY Award. The DAISY Committee at UMMC reviews nominations every two months and selects up to two winners each cycle who meet the criteria for going over and beyond the expectations of a nurse.
The DAISY Team Award is presented once annually, and several School of Nursing students and faculty members also receive the award each year. The DAISY Award program will spread to the ambulatory setting in the coming year.
The award’s flower symbol “reminds us that daisies grow all year around, just like our nurses work 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Heather Pierce, manager of registered nurse development and professional practice in Nursing Quality and Development, told those gathered for the celebration in the Student Union.
“There are many varieties of daisies, just like the 3,000 nurses we have here at UMMC,” she said.
Over the past decade, Medical Center nurses have received 11,734 DAISY Award nominations, some in that number more than once, said Terri Gillespie, chief nursing executive and clinical services officer for the UMMC Health System. Of the 121 nurses receiving the award, 66 still work at the Medical Center, she said.
“You are the heart of the health system,” Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the Health System, told the group. “You’re the ones holding the patient’s hand in the middle of the night, and calming the family members.
“Our patients want to know that they are not just cared for, but they’re cared about,” Cook said. “Thank you for what you do. It makes an enormous difference to the communities we serve, and in the lives of our patients.”
In addition to Harcharik, those nominated for the Nurse Leader Award were Joy Akanji, nurse manager in Student and Employee Health; Bill Brister, nurse manager on 2 South; Paige Dimacco, Children’s administrative house supervisor; Ann Downs, shift supervisor in the Newborn Center; Nancy Kaye Flanagin, nurse manager on the nursing resource team; Tricia Freeman, manager of clinical outcomes in transplant and ventricular assist device; Becky Harrison, nurse educator in the Newborn Center; and
Lori Oxley, nurse manager on 4 Children’s; Alice Chaney Herndon, nurse manager on the Mother-Baby Unit; Anna Martha Holmes, nurse educator on 3 South; Sonja Huntley, nurse educator on the Mother-Baby Unit; Slay Jeffords, nurse manager in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Briana Petty, nurse manager on 4 North; and Anita Vanderford, associate director of ambulatory operations in the Children’s Cancer Clinic.
Harcharik, the Medical Center’s nursing leaders say, is firm but fair, motivates her staff to have the good qualities she herself exemplifies, and encourages her fellow nurses with breakfast gatherings and by spotlighting them on video monitors during their birthday month.
It’s her nursing team that deserves the accolades, Harcharik says. “They make my job easy,” she said.
Watching her sister give birth to two children cemented her desire to be a nurse, an avocation she imagined for herself as a child playing with a toy doctor’s kit. Harcharik received her master of science in nursing at UMMC.
“I knew I wanted to take care of people,” Harcharik said. “People are so sick. They need someone to be their person when they don’t have anyone else.”