Honoring Michigan Medicine’s award-winning nurses

May 12, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Across the organization, nurses have stepped up in extraordinary ways amid various waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they’ve done so with compassion, caring and collaboration.

Such a commitment to excellence hasn’t been lost on Michigan Medicine patients and families, many of whom nominated their nurses for a DAISY Award. The awards are given out by the DAISY Foundation to nurses who go above and beyond in their role.

To close out Nurses Week 2021, here is a look at just a few of the award-winning nurses at Michigan Medicine who earned a DAISY Award in the last few months — along with excerpts from their nominations!

Jenny Hug, R.N.

Woman stands with an award certificate

I wanted to reach out to show my appreciation for a nurse that has been taking care of my husband while he has been at U-M as a COVID-19 patient. Over the past few weeks while caring for my husband. Jenny Hug has gone above and way beyond to show her compassion as a nurse and as a human being.

She has been his cheerleader, his caretaker, his everything many times over! She will pop her head in his door just to give him the ‘thumbs up’ because she knows he is all alone in there.

He looked forward to her being his nurse and told me the other day that ‘Jenny comes back soon’ because she had been off for a few days and he was looking forward to seeing her again.

She comes to work every day cheerful, and ready to serve in a scary time. It’s incredibly difficult to not be able to comfort a loved one during this awful virus, but people like Jenny make it a bit easier and for that, I am very grateful!

Valerie Forrest, R.N.

Woman stands with an award certificate

My daughter had surgery to remove several tumors from her right lung. The surgery was successful, and my wife, daughter and myself were able to celebrate a victory.

While my daughter was recovering in her room, Valerie came in to assess her and looked under the covers to view her chest tube. After she noticed excessive leakage, Valerie called the lead nurse on duty and requested that she too observe the continued leakage. Valerie then called the resident … along with two nurses from the cardiovascular unit who deal with thoracotomies all the time. Valerie showed them the wound and I could tell immediately that they knew what was wrong and exactly what to do!

I thanked these two nurses calling them “angels from above.” They were there in the room and helped my daughter because of Valerie. Whether it was instincts, smarts, persistence, training — whatever it was, Valerie pushed and pushed and pushed to make right something she knew was wrong!

Amy Stodgell, R.N.

Woman stands with an award certificate

Amy went above and beyond every single shift that I had her as my nurse. Her positive attitude, willingness to make sure myself and my husband had everything we could need, and her confidence in herself and her skills as a nurse gave me the confidence that I was getting the best care possible.

She always communicated my concerns with the night-time nurses at shift change and made things very clear for them. She truly cares for her patient’s needs and their health.

Staying at the hospital isn’t always the best experience, or fun, but when Amy walked in for her shift, her infectious attitude and smile behind her mask changed my attitude and gave me a positive outlook!

Matthew Golem, R.N.

Man stands with an award certificate

My husband suffered a significant stroke, resulting in complete left-sided impairment, left-sided neglect, pusher syndrome, the inability to toilet himself and impairment to his speech.

Matt’s approach was always friendly, caring and positive. He always spoke to my husband with dignity and respect. Matt would seek to comfort by not only checking on pain levels or offering a change in positioning, but he would ask about special foods for my husband when he noticed breakfast was not touched.

He also took care of the entire family. For example, he organized the ability for my husband and I to join our children and grandchildren and meet some of the Survival Flight crew members who took us out on the helipad to check out the chopper.

Just when I was feeling as down as I could feel, he lifted me and everyone else in the family up with this special day! I will never forget Matt for the comfort and level of care that he provided to us during the most challenging time in our lives.

Nicole Zabel, R.N.

Woman stands with a trophy

There are several characteristics that come to mind about Nikki that makes her worthy of this award, but here are a few I noted: she gives of herself to each patient, she takes time to get to know the patient and their care is foremost in her mind, she is meticulous and has an attention to detail. We first got to know Nikki over several days as she was our nurse during my husband’s conditioning for a bone marrow transplant — and then she actually did our transplant.

Throughout the whole transplant, Nikki was clearly in charge, showing great compassion while also reassuring us. She handled each new symptom with great care and precision. My husband eventually fell asleep, and Nikki completed the transplant. Never did Nikki say she was exhausted, needed a break or indicate anything other than she was so glad she could do his transplant that night.

For us, Nikki was a good example of what an excellent nurse looks like. Thank you, Nikki!

Glenna Soriano, R.N.

Woman stands with an award certificate and trophy

Our nurse Glenna went well above and beyond the call of duty on more than one occasion for my father and family during his final days in the palliative care unit. Glenna was always so kind and compassionate and maintained a patient-centered style of care.

She always addressed my father, even when he could no longer respond. She truly listened and respected the wishes of my father when it came to minimizing pain and maximizing comfort. Glenna even helped us transport my father in his bed down to the main level near the courtyard, where he could feel the breeze and see the Christmas lights.

During this difficult time, Glenna was a calm and understanding support system, making us feel that she cared for her patients just as she would her own family members.

Julie Kemeter, R.N.

Woman stands with a book and trophy

One of the scariest days of my life was when my son was having an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts during a visit to the CVC. Julie’s attentiveness to his health and well-being gave us a sense of security we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

When he had to receive an emergency Epi-pen injection, Julie was calm and collected. Over the last 11 months, we have taken many trips to U-M for his food allergies. Julie has always spoken directly to our son, engaging him in a playful manner and easing the anxieties that a young child has with doctors. As a result of her friendly and compassionate ways towards him, he has come to trust her as much as we do.

Having a young child with life-threatening food allergies has been very stressful. Julie doesn’t realize how much she goes above and beyond in our son’s care — and I can only imagine this compassion is seen by all the other allergy patients as well.

Kelli Marino, R.N.

Woman stands with an award certificate and trophy

In March 2020, our son, a healthy 27-year-old, contracted the coronavirus and came to U-M on a ventilator. He remained on one for 53 days and stayed in the hospital for 85. I can tell you that our son would not have made it without Kelli!

Not being able to visit our loved one was gut-wrenching. When our son’s anxiety got really bad, Kelli would Facetime with us as she felt this would help him calm down, and it most certainly did.

Kelli explained that our son was feeling really down one day and he didn’t want to get out of bed. Kelli said she wanted to get him moving, so if I was going to be in the parking lot, she would have him walk to the window so we could wave. That day, our son walked to the window and we waved at each other — Kelli was able to find a way to motivate and get him moving!

Kelli became our son’s family when he needed someone the most. She held his hand, comforted him, listened to his fears and worries, encouraged him, pushed him, motivated him and so much more.