Jill Kanaly-Demers, RN, BS, CHPN, Honored by CVPH with DAISY Award

Palliative Care nurse nominated for helping patient, family prepare for difficult decisions

Planning for a loved one’s end of life can be a tough, emotional process. Today, staff members at the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital came together to recognize one nurse’s extraordinary effort to help a local family find peace.


Jill Kanaly-Demers, RN, BS, CHPN was nominated for the DAISY Award after working with family members of an 89-year-old patient in declining health. He and his wife of more than 60 years were both struggling with dementia while living together in an assisted living facility.


“Jill cares for each patient and family member as if it was a member of her own family,” Chief Nursing Officer Carrie Howard Canning said. “She works hard to understand what each individual needs and then makes it her responsibility to ensure the entire care team understands all aspects of care needed as well.”


Bill Staub, MS, RPA-C of Interventional Radiology, who nominated Kanaly-Demers for the DAISY Award, asked her to work with the family to help them consider completing advanced directives, including Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatments (MOLST) forms, and the role that palliative care could play for the patient and his family.


In his nomination of Kanaly-Demers, Staub said she held “exceptionally professional discussions” multiple times with the patient’s family. Kanaly-Demers helped make sure family members did not feel rushed and their questions and concerns were all properly addressed until the patient and his family reached what they felt was the best possible path forward for end of life care.


Staub noted that this is typical of her professional reputation, saying “It is clinically invaluable when we have this level of professional dependability and compassionate care to offer patients and their families in their time of need.”


With help from Kanaly-Demers, the patient and his family members were able to make an appropriate step-wise process toward acceptance of end of life planning for the patient. MOLST was completed with family consensus. Staub said family members had greater peace and understanding, along with less emotional duress.


“This personal approach with attention to detail and follow through makes Jill the amazing nurse that she is in her work daily,” Howard Canning offered. “We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated professional as part of our palliative care team and our nursing team.”


Kanaly-Demers has been with CVPH for 13 years. During the recognition celebration, she was presented with a certificate commending her as an extraordinary nurse. Kanaly-Demers, like all honorees, also received a DAISY Award pin and a beautiful and meaningful sculpture called “A Healer’s Touch,” which is hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.


CVPH launched the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in 2018 as a way to recognize and reward licensed nurses for making a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients. Nomination forms and boxes are located at each of the hospital’s main entrances and on the CVPH website. Nurses may be nominated by patients, families and colleagues. A committee reviews nominations and awards a deserving nurse each quarter.


The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s mission to recognize the extraordinary, compassionate nursing care they provide patients and families every day. The DAISY Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family.  Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.)  The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families. More information is available at the DAISY Foundation website.