Making Patients Feel Heard

Dale Gearhart, RN Honored With DAISY Award

Joelyn LaValley is no stranger to surgery. And she knows all too well the unpleasant symptoms she struggles with after every procedure, including vomiting. But thanks to her nurse, Dale Gearhart, LaValley experienced a first: symptom-free time in the recovery room. That's why Gearhart is The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital’s (CVPH) newest recipient of the DAISY Award.

Gearhart was nominated by LaValley. Normally, she cares for patients in our Cardiac Vascular Care Center. In this case, she was on the other side, receiving care as a patient in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, or PACU. The PACU is where a patient goes following a procedure that requires anesthesia to recover and wake up. Vital signs are closely watched, pain management begins and fluids are given there. In her nomination, she shares how worried she gets before surgery.

“I want to thank Dale for how he cares for and listens to his patients. It truly makes a difference.”

"The thought of having a surgical procedure with general anesthesia always makes me anxious, because I usually have a rough time post-op," LaValley writes.

This time was different.

"Dale listened to my concerns and thoughts about what may or may not be helpful to me, asked if he could be my post-op nurse, and followed through with our plan. This was the first time anyone had ever cared or listened to me as much as Dale did. And this was the first time, out of many surgeries, that I did not vomit!"

Gearhart, who has been with the hospital for six years, is also known for speaking up for his patients.

“He most recently advocated for a patient who needed dialysis and reached out to our Director of IV Therapy to facilitate getting this patient what they needed,” Mary Ann Cayea, BSN, RN, CVPH Director of Perioperative Services, explains. “He is all about working together and taking the team approach to get the job done.”

Cayea also appreciates Gearhart’s ability to brighten the day of everyone around him, from patients to colleagues and physicians.

“Dale loves to laugh and has an impeccable sense of humor! He has a big heart and always has the best of intentions, while going above and beyond to provide the best care and outcomes for his patients,” she adds.

For LaValley, her experience with Gearhart has opened her eyes to what is suddenly possible: a positive experience after surgery. And that puts her a little more at ease for the next time she might need a procedure done.

“I want to thank Dale for how he cares for and listens to his patients,” she says. “It truly makes a difference.”

During a surprise ceremony with the PACU team, Gearhart was presented with a certificate commending him as an extraordinary nurse. He, 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.

Watch the Ceremony

About the DAISY Award

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.