Christus honors nurses, unveils Zimbabwean statues

Nurse Lisa Flores and Chief Nursing Officer Paul Guidroz

Christus recognized nurses from St. Elizabeth and St. Mary hospitals for their dedication, hard work, and clinical skills as well as for the compassion they show their patients on an everyday basis Tuesday, Aug. 13.

“When a loved one is hospitalized, it’s often nurses who care for them minute by minute, day by day, that make the biggest impact on the patient and their families,” said Bonnie Barnes, co-founder and president of the DAISY Foundation.

Both hospitals participate in the DAISY Foundation’s award program, which honors nurses for their clinical skill and compassion. Tuesday, selected nurses were presented with DAISY awards and small, desktop-sized Zimbabwean Healer’s Touch sculptures that symbolize the bond of care and trust that exists between a healer and his or her patient.

“The vigilance and kindness of the healers, their skill with medicines, and the ways in which they council, comfort and care for the afflicted, endear them to all they serve. Healers, whether male or female, are affectionately regarded as treasures by those they care for, and the well being and safety of the healer is of community-wide importance,” DAISY literature states.

Christus also unveiled life-sized replicas of the sculptures presented to the DAISY award recipients at both St. Elizabeth and St. Mary hospitals Tuesday.

“This artwork beautifully captures the special nurse-patient relationship that is so vital to successful outcomes in our patients,” said Jane Rawls, chief nursing executive for Christus.

The DAISY Award was created by the family of J. Patrick Barnes, a 33-year-old who lost his battle with an immune disease in 1999. His family wanted to honor the nurses who provided him with skillful, compassionate care throughout his eight-week hospitalization. Award recipients are chosen each month and nominated by patients like Barnes and other employees at each hospital.

“It’s a hard, thankless job and sometimes I think (nurses) wonder if anybody really even cares,” Nurse Recruiter Tammy Price said.

“Most people look at nurses for what they do clinically only and not for what they do spiritually for patients,” Rawls added. “This is something that (the recipient) did that touched somebody and did something in their life. That is what nursing is really about.”

One of the nurses honored Tuesday at St. Elizabeth, past DAISY award recipient and RN at St. Elizabeth, Brent Ricks, said he chose the nursing field after working at UPS for six years. Ricks, who works in the intensive care unit, said the most enjoyable part of his job is seeing patients recover from illness.

“Where I work there are a lot of bypass surgeries,” he said. “When they come in the door, they’re really sick and their families are distraught. To see them get better in a couple of days, leave and go home and live a normal life is just rewarding.”

 The patient that nominated Ricks for the award was in ICU for a long time, Ricks said.

“You see progress fast sometimes and also not so fast,” he said. “He was in there for a long time. I kept encouraging him and he actually got better after two or three months. He would come back and visit because he was so happy he was still around. That was very rewarding.”

The DAISY award is not only a nice way to honor nurses; it also meets an economic need for the Zimbabwean artists that create the statues.

“It’s a really unique and awesome award,” said Paul Guidroz, chief nursing officer at Christus. “It extends beyond just our four walls here at the hospital in that it helps the Republic of Zimbabwe. And, they meet a need for us with the award for the nurses.”

The DAISY Foundation, which recognizes nurses at hospitals across the United States and internationally, imports thousands of hand-carved, stone Healer’s Touch sculptures each year from the Shona Tribe of Zimbabwe, according to a Christus press release.  The sculptures originated as tributes to the tribe’s traditional healers, who are highly regarded for the care they provide to the community. DAISY’s purchase of these sculptures has become very important to the economic well-being of the tribe as was explained in a DAISY documentary by a Zimbabwean artist.

“Thank you very much for your support,” the artist said. “You are supporting our family. We have got other carvers back home. So you are supporting a community. As we do this, we do it as a community.”

Due to political turmoil within Zimbabwe, there are no tourists to purchase the artists’ work, so purchases by the DAISY Foundation help provide food and education to the tribe.

“The incredible work that our nurses do not only helps families here at home in the United States, but is actually putting food on the tables of artists and their families in Zimbabwe,” Bonnie Barnes said.

Shona artists oversee every step in the process of creating the sculpture, from procuring the serpentine stone from local mines, carving the stone, preparing the surfaces with water and fire and applying a final coat of wax and polish.

The Healer’s Touch life-sized sculptures at both St. Elizabeth and St. Mary hospitals are inscribed with Acts 4:30 which reads:

“…as you stretch forth your hand to heal …signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

For more information on the Healer’s Touch sculptures and how they are made, visit www.daisyfoundation.org/daisy-award/healers-touch.

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