When DaVita Nursing Director Lisa Hornborg talks about the DAISY Awards, her whole face lights up.
“It’s truly one of the highlights of my year,” she explains, describing the delight, hugs and even tears that are typical when teammates learn they’ve been selected for the honor. “As nurses, we’re used to finding fulfillment from our patients and from one another,” she explains. But to receive validation for our work from an external organization is something different, and it really means a lot.”
This spring during National Nurses’ Week (May 9 through 12), The DAISY Foundation — an independent nonprofit — honored 56 DaVita nephrology nurses with the prestigious DAISY Award recognizing outstanding compassionate care. This is the second year DaVita has recognized teammates with DAISY awards, a tradition that is just one marker of DaVita’s remarkable nursing standards.
"We have an unwavering commitment to nursing excellence," says DaVita’s chief nursing officer, Tina Livaudais. "Each of our DAISY recipients exemplifies this through their passionate dedication to patient care and steadfast support of their fellow caregivers. I'm proud to celebrate this achievement.”
DAISY Award recipients come from across DaVita’s national network of care centers, representing communities where nephrology nurses make a difference from coast to coast. Here, we share just a few of the many stories that make DaVita nurses exceptional.
Greater Charleston Dialysis Center
Linda Collins, a home hemodialysis nurse, transitioned to nursing as a second career for the most practical of reasons: job security. Little did she know she would find her life’s passion. “For the first time in my life I can say I truly love my job,” says Collins, who’s been practicing nursing for nearly five years after earning her degree at age 50.
“I’ve always taken an interest in peoples’ lives and trying to understand other peoples’ experiences,” explains Collins. “I didn’t know that would be such an important part of nursing, but now that I’m living it, I do think my curiosity about others is part of what helps me support my patients the best I can.”
Not too long ago, Collins’ capacity for support was put to the test when she was assigned the care of a pregnant dialysis patient. Dialysis during pregnancy is a rare, challenging and complex process requiring extraordinary commitment from patient and caregivers alike.
“I’ll admit I was scared,” she confesses. “But my supervisor, the physician and the whole team helped me understand that I wasn’t in it alone. It was something we were all going to work through together, whatever it took.”
Today the patient and her baby are looking forward to baby’s first birthday, and both are doing well.
“When I learned I won the DAISY Award I was shocked,” Collins recalls. “The special opportunity to care for a patient during pregnancy wasn’t anything to do with me,” she humbly asserts. “Any nurse in my position would have done the same, and it really did take the effort of the whole team to reach this positive outcome.”
“Team” is a word that comes up again and again as Collins describes the challenges, rewards and growth she’s experienced as a DaVita nephrology nurse. She notes how a culture of trust and mutual respect at the Greater Charleston Center brings out the best in every teammate, which ultimately means the best care for patients. “I know it sounds corny,” she says. “But it really does take a village.”
Derby Dialysis Renal Treatment Center
For Ashley Zimmerman, a clinical coordinator and mother of four, caring for people who receive dialysis is all about family. People who receive in-center treatments often spend as many as 15 hours in their center each week, which means a lot of time interacting with their care teams. Zimmerman sees this as a precious opportunity to build close, trusting, meaningful relationships.
“I care about these people as much as my own kids,” she says. “I want to step up and do the right thing for my patients as much as I want the best for my kids. That motivates me a lot.”
It begins with making sure all her patients feel a warm welcome from the moment they step into the dialysis center. “When we have new people who start, I do not say, ‘Welcome to dialysis.’ I always say, ‘Welcome to our family!’” she explains. “I am constantly asking my patients, ‘How was your grandson’s ball game?’ Or, ‘How was your school board meeting?’ I want them to feel like they have a safe space and someone to talk to.”
Zimmerman started at DaVita in September 2018 after spending several years working as a nurse in trauma and the intensive care unit in a hospital. She brought to DaVita an exceptional record of compassionate care, having received her first DAISY award during her hospital experience.
Zimmerman recalls, she didn’t have a lot of experience with dialysis prior to starting at DaVita, and she was excited by the opportunity to master a new skill.
Zimmerman transitioned to DaVita to gain more time with her own family, but she found something more along the way — a second family comprised of her patients and DaVita teammates. And like all strong family ties, these are built to last. “I don’t ever see myself leaving where I’m at and what I do,” she asserts.
Dialysis Care of Moore County at Home
Growing up, Janet Thrower wasn’t initially drawn to nursing. With her love of gardening and plants, she dreamed of a career in horticulture. But at her parents’ urging, she checked out a health occupations class in high school and discovered she could use her talent for nurturing to help people — not just plants!
Thrower pursued oncology, and found herself working with cancer patients who happened to share the same floor as the nephrology unit. This proximity sparked her interest to learn more about kidney care and dialysis. Eventually, this curiosity led Thrower to work in a dialysis clinic.
Twenty-five years later Thrower remains as committed as ever, though today she is focused on helping individuals who dialyze at home. She notes that it’s especially rewarding to help people calm their anxiety and learn the necessary skills to confidently succeed in a home dialysis modality.
“We had an in-center patient who was having cannulation issues after a surgical revision,” Thrower recalls. “His wife asked if I could assist in any way, and I offered for him to try home dialysis — but he always declined. Over several weeks, I assisted when I could. And eventually, he agreed to come try home hemodialysis (HHD). I was very excited!”
To help with the learning process, Thrower made sure to create a comfortable environment for the patient: She lit a soothing flameless candle, turned on some background music and set up a TV to help him pass the time on the HHD machine.
“After a week, he did not want to come back in center,” Thrower says. “He said, ‘You have ruined me!’ I just wanted him to be able to experience a little bit of ‘home life’ and have a retreat from all the stress that was going on in his life.”
When the time came for Thrower to receive her DAISY award, she was the one to receive special care and consideration for a change. Her DaVita team kept her distracted while they set up a special surprise celebration. When she walked in the conference room, her husband, a close friend and her DaVita team —including the regional operating director, divisional vice president and others — were all there to deliver the great news and cheer her on.
In a profession that’s all about caring for others, such gestures mean the world. “I have the best work family and support,” Thrower says.
About the DAISY Foundation
The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired the DAISY Foundation and DAISY Awards, honoring the profound impact of the nursing profession on patients and their families.