ABPANC Advocacy Award Winners and Stories
The 7th annual ABPANC Advocacy Award was presented at the CPAN®/CAPA® Celebration Breakfast April 16, 2007 to a very surprised Eileen Dalton, RN, BSN, CPAN who works in the PACU at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Tucson Arizona. This award publicly recognizes a CPAN or CAPA certified nurse who exemplifies leadership as a patient advocate and is the highest accolade given to a certified nurse. Nominated by a colleague and nurse manager, Kris Ingegneri, BSN, RN, CPAN wrote a story describing only one of many instances when Eileen truly advocated for a patient.
Eileen was presented with the beautiful Lladro Nurse Statue and a scholarship for her next recertification fee. Kris, as the individual who took the time to submit the story, received a $100 cash award. The unit in which Eileen and Kris work received a $350 award to use for certification/recertification fees, books, or continuing education.
Nine years ago a nurse from the Intensive Care Unit, Eileen Dalton, transferred to the PACU. She adapted readily and was soon recognized for her proficient clinical skills and personable approach to patient care. Within two years, this new post anesthesia nurse was immersed in her new practice specialty and proudly attained her CPAN certification.
It is a lucky patient who encounters this nurse on the mornings she works in the pre-op holding area. She welcomes them and addresses individual concerns and before sending them off she lets them know she’ll be watching for them “on the other end.” She makes it a point to come find her pre-op patients after surgery and as they waken she says quietly, “You’re safe now and can rest easy.” In spite of the fog and confusion of anesthesia many patients will waken and ask for her by name.
Some of the words used to describe this CPAN certified nurse in the story that was submitted are: expert, coach, mentor, patient advocate, joyful, reassuring, attentive, kind, empathetic, has the patience of Job, calm, and funny.
A few months ago this nurse received a call from a nurse manager in our hospital. A young nurse — we’ll call her Amy — was in the manager’s office requesting medical leave for breast cancer surgery. Confronted with this new diagnosis the nurse was overwhelmed with fear and emotion. The manager asked, “Would it help to speak to someone who has had a similar experience?” and the young nurse gratefully accepted the offer.
The CPAN leader nominated for the ABPANC Advocacy Award is a breast cancer survivor and she is the person the manager called. Asked if she would be willing to share her experience, this nominee dropped what she was doing and met with “Amy” — finding the time to talk — not just that day but on a number of occasions prior to Amy’s surgery. Knowing that a nurse has to be reminded to be a “patient” and understanding the stress of the situation, she artfully blended her personal experience and her clinical knowledge to answer repeated questions and offer ongoing support.
Nervous and frightened on the day of surgery, Amy was visibly relieved to have her perianesthesia nurse with her preoperatively and at her bedside as she awakened. The details are blurry but Amy remembers that she felt safe during her stay in the PACU and was glad to be cared for by someone she knew. Amy couldn’t have known how skillfully her colleague and advocate protected her privacy from well-meaning coworkers wanting to visit and she only learned later how much her husband appreciated the frequent updates he received.
As Amy recovers she is happy that our nominee keeps in touch, receiving surprise visits from time to time and she knows she is no more than phone call away to help her through chemotherapy and radiation.
There have been many “Amys” in this CPAN’s career — she would tell you that what she does is not unusual, instead she would ask — “Aren’t we all here to do the best we can for our patients?”
She doesn’t just care for patients — she cares about them. She’s a true advocate.
ABPANC is sad to report that Eileen passed away December 30, 2007. Eileen was a breast cancer survivor of 14 years — and early in 2007 she learned that the cancer had returned. She spent the last year enjoying life as she always had — relishing the joys of her family and finding time to do things for other people. She asked only to be remembered “with a smile.”