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Dogs, Hockey and Compassionate Care

CVPH Presents First DAISY Team Award

“Watching your mother pass away for nine days is an intense, life-changing event.”

It’s a heartbreaking time that Kelly Osterhaudt and Kelsey Trombley will never forget, as their mother spent her final days at The University of Vermont Health Network-Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH). Something else they’ll also always remember: the tremendous care a team of nurses provided all of them. That is why Ashleigh Leavine, BSN, RN, Jennifer Laporte, RN, Elizabeth Trudeau, BSN, RN and Heather Worley, RN have been honored as the hospital’s first recipients of the DAISY Team Award.

Maureen Cluette arrived at CVPH by ambulance in May 2023 dying from kidney failure and suffering from Calciphylaxis, which is a rare and painful disease that can cause lesions, ulcers and sores on her legs. Her doctor told both daughters that dialysis was not guaranteed to help, her legs may need to be amputated, and the Calciphylaxis would continue to spread throughout the body.

“So with heavy hearts, my sister and I decided that because she had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, we had to let nature take it’s course,” Osterhaudt and Trombley write in their nomination of the four nurses.

“There were many nurses and staff who took care of our mother during these nine days. All were wonderful. But there was a group that our family bonded with, and we will never forget them: Ashleigh, Heather, Jenn and Lizzie (Elizabeth) on R5,” the sisters continue.

Osterhaudt and Trombley say this group of nurses made them all feel safe, relaxed and secure. The nurses spoke passionately about providing comfort for their mother, and they kept the sisters informed of all changes while answering any questions they had.

Over the course of their time in the hospital, the family and the nurses exchanged lots of hugs, stories of Amish dogs and hockey games.

“It didn’t matter how busy they were, they made us feel like our mother was their only patient. Each of these women got to know our family and our mother. They know how to treat and take interest in their patient and family on a personal and professional level. They heard things that were not being said,” Osterhaudt and Trombley add.

On their last night in the hospital, Leavine and Laporte were on duty and continued to provide compassionate care for Cluette and her two daughters, doing everything they could to make sure the evening was as peaceful as possible. The nurses took extra time to make sure Cluette’s pillows were just right and tried to anticipate every need for comfort and support the sisters had.

Early the next morning, Cluette took her last breath with her daughters at her side.

“But she wasn’t alone, because Ashleigh and Jenn were with her. We want to thank them for making sure she wasn’t alone. And all four wonderful nurses deserve to be recognized for their great care and compassion. They are truly an asset to your hospital,” Osterhaudt and Trombley state.

“Ashleigh, Jennifer, Lizzie and Heather are part of an incredible team that amazes me daily with their dedication and empathy to our patients,” says Nicole Daniels, RN, nurse manager on R5 at CVPH. “They are not only skilled, but consistently patient-centered. Caring for patients at the end of their lives or who are battling cancer like we do can be very difficult, emotional and complicated. Yet, our team fiercely advocates to provide the most comfortable transition for our end of life patients while supporting their loved ones, as well. I am so proud and grateful to be able to acknowledge this group of nurses and the importance of the work they do every day.”

During a surprise ceremony with the team on R5 at the hospital, Leavine, Laporte, Trudeau and Worley were all presented with a certificate commending them as an extraordinary team of nurses. They, like all honorees, received a DAISY Award pin. And they received a plaque that will be hung in their honor.

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. In 2023, the hospital added DAISY Awards to recognize nurse leaders and nurse-led teams. 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 staff nurse each quarter, a nurse leader twice a year and a nurse-led team annually.

The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s mission to recognize the extraordinary, compassionate care licensed nurses provide to 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 on the DAISY Foundation website.

Watch the video from the award ceremony