June 25, 2022

Making a Difference

Nurse Loretta Umbenhower won a DAISY award on May 11 after being nominated by a patient

At Greater Regional Health on Wednesday afternoon, nurses stood shoulder to shoulder with one thing in common - they were all nominees for the 2022 DAISY award. The DAISY program started in 1999 in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of complications from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). His family was so touched by the care they received from his nurses they started the DAISY program.

The focal point of the day was the 2022 DAISY Award Recipient, Loretta Umbenhower. The winner is chosen by an anonymous system where a select committee of people read the submissions with the names removed and vote for a winner.

DAISY is an acronym for diseases against the autoimmune system, and is a nomination system for nurses who go above and beyond in patient care. Patients and staff can nominate nurses they feel deserving of the honor. The DAISY award ceremony took place during National Nurses Week, May 6 - 12, and honored the nurses and their stories.

Umbenhower is a nurse in the Oncology and Infusion Center at Greater Regional Medical Center where she has worked for three years. “I love that at Greater Regional I have a great team I am a part of, and that we can all work together to provide amazing care,” she said. She worked previously as a CNA for many years, but her love for helping people made her want to be able to do more for the patients.

She says she was shocked when she got the award. “It was amazing to be nominated,” she said. “But I never really thought I would win.”

The submission was made by a patient’s dad who commended Umbenhower’s kindness, patience and excellent care. She took the little girl on walks around the department, wheelchair rides and even elevator rides. “It takes special people to care for kids,” he said.

Umbenhower notes providing support and care for people during difficult times as one of the things she loves most about being a nurse. “I like being able to make a difference for people, and improve the quality of care they receive.”

Though she was nominated for her interaction with that family, others were quick to congratulate her and share their own positive experiences with her.

Becky Stibbs recalls her time in the hospital with Steve White, her significant other of 28 years. He passed away in October from lung cancer, but Stibbs still remembers Umbenhower fondly. “Loretta was always there for him,” she said. “Whether it meant coming in early or staying late.”

When they made the decision of hospice care for White, Umbenhower met them at the ER and was the first one to come from the Oncology Department to tell him how brave he had been. “The entire Oncology Department was always there for us,” Stibbs said. “She just always did a little extra which meant so much.”

Stibbs’s only wish is that she had written and nominated Umbenhower for the award herself.