Nurse of the Week Phyllis Garr: Recognition Committee Nurse Receives Dose of Own Medicine

Nurse of the Week Phyllis Garr: Recognition Committee Nurse Receives Dose of Own Medicine

Our Nurse of the Week, Phyllis Garr, BSN, RN, a pre-op holding nurse at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Department of Nursing is yet another standout DAISY Award recipient. She was nominated by a fellow nurse-turned-patient – who remarked, “I know a Daisy nurse when I see one!”

As it happens, the patient who nominated Garr is a nurse leader at another Magnet recognized hospital in New England, so she sets a fairly high bar for nursing excellence. In her nomination letter, the patient wrote:

I sought treatment for my cancer through Dana-Faber and had surgery (twice) at BWFH. My surgeon shared that the nursing care at the “Friendly Faulkner” was incredible. I was blessed to have Phyllis assigned to me during my second surgery.
Keep in mind I have been on the “other side of the sheets” for 35 years as a nurse and this is really my very first illness.
I had to come back to the OR for an unexpected revision. Phyllis’s care was truly exceptional. She asked questions about the first surgery, how I had recovered, how I felt about this new turn and how I was doing emotionally. She was kind, warm, and, dare I say, loving during the whole stay. When she found out that I worked at a Magnet organization she shared information about your journey and even allowed me to read the parts of your document related to the ambulatory surgery unit.
She made my care personal and certainly over the top. I serve on our DAISY team here at my hospital and I know a Magnet facility when I see it and I sure do know a DAISY nurse when I see one. I am coming back soon for my reconstruction surgery and actually have very little apprehension as I know I am in great hands.

Garr is more accustomed to being on the other side of the DAISY Award process, as she is a member of Brigham and Women’s Nursing Professional Recognition and Advancement Committee.

This time the spotlight was on her own deep commitment, though, and members of nursing leadership, fellow members of the Nursing Professional Recognition and Advancement Committee, and her supportive co-workers were only too happy to see her holding the famous Healer’s Touch sculpture. It was a delightful and well-earned turnabout: “As a member of this committee, I give this award to extraordinary nurses. Never once did I think I would be on the receiving end of this prestigious international award with all the history behind it!” she said of the honor.

During the presentation, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services Cori Loescher, MM, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, recalled meeting Garr’s patient at the 2019 ANCC National Magnet Conference. “She sought me out to tell me how wonderful her experience was,” says Loescher. “You truly were her DAISY angel.”

Garr also encountered her patient at the Magnet conference. “I was in a convention center with 10,000 other nurses and I looked over and there she was!” she says. “It is very meaningful to have been nominated for the DAISY Award by someone who knows first-hand what excellence in nursing looks like.”

The DAISY Award, established by the DAISY Foundation, is named in memory of J. Patrick Barnes who died at the age of 33 from Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an auto-immune disease. The Barnes Family was inspired by the care that Patrick received and established this unique program to recognize and thank the nurses nationwide who make a profound difference in the lives of their patients and families.

To learn more about the DAISY Foundation, visit

Originally published by Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital at

Nurse of the Week: Pediatric NP Joseph Vine Returns to Work After 56 Days on a Ventilator

Nurse of the Week: Pediatric NP Joseph Vine Returns to Work After 56 Days on a Ventilator

San Antonio, Texas NP Joseph Vine must be a descendant of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. After a brutal bout with Covid-19 left him in a medically induced coma for two months last year, our Nurse of the Week proceeded to push through a lengthy recovery period. Now, glad to be back treating youngsters at his pediatric urgent care clinic, he says, “I’m almost back to where I was before.”

But Vine endured a frightening ordeal in the interim between “before” and now. In June 2020, Covid entered the life of the 41-year-old father of three. Coughing and gasping for breath, he reached the ED at Northeast Baptist Hospital – just barely. “I was feeling so horrible,” he told News 4 San Antonio. “I was sure I had Covid, and basically as soon as I got to the ER, they were telling me they were going to have to intubate me.” His prospects for survival were dubious. In fact, Vine’s wife Anayuri said, “They thought he was not going to make it.” The couple had been married less than two years and Anayuri had recently given birth to a girl when Vine was admitted. Suddenly, her husband was inaccessible, lying comatose in the ICU and breathing with the aid of machines. For Anayuri and the baby, he had effectively vanished. “I couldn’t see him for two months,” she recalled.

Vine survived, after spending 56 days on a ventilator. His return to consciousness in August 2020 was met with relief – and relieved surprise – by his wife, friends, and doctors. He recalls, “I actually came out of it, which they never thought I would do… They were like, ‘Wow, he’s actually awake!’ A lot of people didn’t expect that to happen.”

When Northeast Baptist finally discharged him in October last year, Vine, like many post ICU patients, was almost as helpless as a newborn infant. (The NP, who has no insurance, had to cope with financial helplessness as well. He emerged with nearly $2 million in medical costs, and friends helped raise the funds for his rehabilitation treatment).

When he came home, Vine was suffering from nerve damage, and his right foot was entirely out of commission. Doctors warned that the foot might never regain its function. “They said,” he recalled, “If it’s not going to be here in 48 hours from when we first observed it, it’s most likely not coming back at all.” However, drawing upon the special reserves of discipline, determination, and “Yes I can” attitude that allows nurses to do what they do, the NP learned to walk again before his baby daughter Charlotte had mastered crawling. Charlotte – who was born just five months before Vine entered the hospital and is now 21 months old – had to become reacquainted with her father when he finally came home. She will be able to keep pace with Dad better than most toddlers, as he’s still wearing a foot brace, but Vine cheerfully remarked, “… I’m a lot more mobile now. I’m very encouraged. I think it’s going to come back even more.”

As his recovery progressed, Vine started treating patients via telehealth while still on a walker. By January 2021, he returned to the clinic on a part-time basis and transitioned to full-time two months later. “Being here and making a difference and helping people was a motivating goal to get back to. I missed the connections with my patients.” Since his recovery from Covid, Vine is also well-positioned to comfort families when one of his young patients contracts the disease. “When I talk to families, they’re often nervous, scared. It may be their first time that this has touched their family. I’m able to give them advice or help relieve some of the symptoms and talk about the course, and then also follow up with them… kind of being part of their process to make sure that nothing’s getting worse for them. That seems to really help them.”

For more on Joseph Vine’s story, see News 4 San Antonio and this excellent long-read at the San Antonio Express News.

Nurse of the Week: Hospice Liaison Nurse Ligaya “Joy” Villanueva Bercasio

Nurse of the Week: Hospice Liaison Nurse Ligaya “Joy” Villanueva Bercasio

As angels have been known as messengers and guides from time immemorial, it is not necessarily hyperbole for patients and families to refer to hospice liaison nurse – and Nurse of the Week – Ligaya “Joy” Villanueva Bercasio, BSN-RN as an “angel.”

Of her calling as a nurse, Bercasio says “Caring, I think, is really a feeling of happiness for me. You know, fulfillment. I really do believe it is a calling for me. I’m in the right profession, I think.”

The depth and extent of the 30-year nursing veteran’s compassion moved the son of two patients so much that he has virtually adopted her as an honorary family member. Bercasio, who works at Hawaii’s St Francis Healthcare System, was a true guide to Roland Bueno as she comforted him after his parents died. She first met the Buenos in September 2020, when she visited them to talk about providing hospice care for their father. Their encounter was far more eventful than any of them had anticipated.

Almost at once, they established an unusual rapport. As Bercasio recalls, while talking with Roland, his mom, and his father, it felt “like we’ve known each other for a long time… You know, we really established rapport [in a] very short period of time! Nana sharing her love story in the Philippines with Tata, showing their pictures and everything.” (Angels tend to be welcomed on that sort of beyond-first-name basis).

Ligaya “Joy” Villanueva Bercasio, BSN-RN

Ligaya “Joy” Villanueva Bercasio, BSN-RN.

But the visit had a dramatic conclusion. “Nana” had left the room, and as Bercasio was readying to leave, they heard a loud thump in the house. She recalls, “Me and Roland ran back to inside the house and we saw Nana on the kitchen floor unresponsive, not breathing, and no pulse. So I immediately did CPR on her, hoping we could revive her.”

Sadly, although Bercasio was initially able to get a response from Nana (Ms. Bueno), Roland’s mother passed away in the hospital. Shortly afterward, her ailing, grieving spouse followed her.

An encouraging force

A Nurse of the Week who didn’t miraculously save lives? As nurses know well, caring doesn’t end with a patient’s passing. Nursing care extends to relatives as well, and nurses often have a very special gift for connecting with and supporting families in the throes of loss. It was Bercasio’s strong and reassuring presence after that loss that inspired Roland Bueno to nominate her as a “healthcare hero” of Hawaii’s health system.

“My mom and dad had passed very close to each other, just unexpectedly, and she was so integral to that process of accommodating us — not just the health things, but she was just really an encouraging force in our family,” Bueno declared. He told Hawaii News Now, “I’ve heard you can’t change the world, but you can change the world for one person, and I’ve been on the giving end of it, but I have not been on the receiving end. So she really changed the world for our family, too.”

To see a video interview, visit Hawaii News Now.

Nurses of the Week: Four NP Leaders Who Are Shaping the Future of the Profession

Nurses of the Week: Four NP Leaders Who Are Shaping the Future of the Profession

In honor of Nurse Practitioner Week 2021, we are featuring the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)‘s tribute to four influential NP leaders as our Nurses of the Week! AANP American Association of Nurse Practitioners

During these unprecedented times, NPs have served as vital leaders in their places of practice and communities. They treat their patients with compassion, provide person-centered care and continually expand their professional knowledge, often while advocating for the advancement of NPs. According to Nancy J. Sharp, MSN, RN, FAAN, for whom the AANP Sharp Cutting Edge Award was named, “If you want to make a strong impact, such as influencing policy or legislative changes, you must join an association. Numbers count. When more individuals join the group, the group has more power and strength.”

The strength of NPs goes beyond providing essential health care services for patients. NPs often hold a variety of leadership roles, responsibilities and titles, like those exemplified by past recipients of the AANP Sharp Cutting Edge Award and Towers Pinnacle Award.

Here are four standout nurse leaders who represent the excellence and impact of nurse practitioners:

Jennifer Wilbeck: Leading ENP Educator

Jennifer Wilbeck, DNP, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ENP-C, FAANP

Jennifer Wilbeck, DNP, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ENP-C, FAANP

NP leaders make their voices heard in their communities. Within these local, state, and national organizations, NP leaders harness the collective voices of their fellow practitioners to organize, enrich and advocate for NPs everywhere. One sterling example is emergency NP and educator Jennifer Wilbeck, DNP, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ENP-C, FAANP. Wilbeck is Professor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University, where her leadership of the nation’s first dual NP academic program for ENP preparation has become a model for ENP educational programs. In addition to being a driving force in standardizing ENP education, she maintains a clinical practice in local Nashville Emergency Departments and has amassed over 20 years of experience in emergency health care — including pre-hospital, emergency department, critical care access, and trauma care.

Dr. Wilbeck is also a literal setter of standards. She led the development of national practice standards and the national ENP specialty certification board exam and was the founding Board Chair for the first national specialty professional organization for ENP practice, the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners. Dr. Wilbeck has lectured nationally on various clinical, educational, and professional topics related to the role of ENPs and serves as the executive director of the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP).

Dr. Wilbeck was inducted as an AANP Fellow in 2016.


Michelle Edwards and Frank Manole: NP Leaders Dedicated to Improving Access and Health Outcomes for Everyone

Beyond serving their own communities and their organizations, some NPs are blazing trails to make health care more affordable, dynamic, and available to patients in all communities.

Michelle Edwards, DNP, FACHE, FAANP

Michelle Edwards, DNP, FACHE, FAANP

One of those professionals is Michelle Edwards, DNP, FACHE, FAANP. Dr. Edwards works as the chief experience officer (CXO) for Providence Health Care Systems, where she leverages nearly 25 years of health care experience to promote compassionate, high-quality health care to vulnerable populations.

For over a decade, Dr. Edwards has become known as a powerful advocate for the creation of sustainable health care practices and financially responsible initiatives with powerful outcomes. Her commitment to clinical excellence, enthusiasm for innovation, inclination to challenge the status quo, and unique ability to build strong, collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships has earned her a reputation as a leader in the industry. In October 2018, the American Organization of Nurse Executives selected her as a Leader to Watch, making Edwards the first advanced practice leader to be featured on the cover of the organization’s journal.

Frank Manole, DNP, MBA, FAANP

Frank Manole, DNP, MBA, FAANP

Similarly, at Avance Care, AANP Region 4 Director Frank Manole, DNP, MBA, FAANP, is working to change the landscape of health care as we know it. His goal as vice president of operations at Avance Care is to develop and execute strategies that improve access to quality, affordable care across the board. A seasoned health care leader, Dr. Manole remains focused on strategy. Dr. Manole previously oversaw clinical operations for more than 40 clinics while serving as the senior practice manager for CVS Health – MinuteClinic.

NP leaders like Drs. Edwards and Manole have helped develop new health care delivery models in some of the largest health systems in the country, often while aiding their local communities and fellow NPs. It is this leadership and commitment to quality that proves NPs are shaping the future of patient-centered health care as we know it.


Beth Haney: Bringing an NP Voice to the Table in Local Government to Effect Community-Wide Change



Beth Haney, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, FAAN, has led the way in her city of Yorba Linda, California. As current city councilwoman and former mayor of Yorba Linda, Dr. Haney serves her community with the goal of promoting communication, health and safety and increasing awareness of homelessness. When not working on her responsibilities as a councilwoman, she takes care of her patients as the owner and founder of a private aesthetics and wellness practice.

Dr. Haney’s journey of leadership can be traced back to before her time as an elected official. While working as the assistant professor of nursing science at the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Dr. Haney developed the first and only UCI inter-professional aesthetic courses for health care professionals. In addition to this, Dr. Haney represented her fellow NPs by serving as the president of the California Association for Nurse Practitioners.

Since 2017, Dr. Haney has collected National NP Week proclamations from 19 of the 34 Orange County cities and the Orange County Board of Supervisors. If you’d like to follow in Dr. Haney’s footsteps this National NP Week, then review this year’s proclamation and encourage your local elected officials to sign in support of NPs in your area.

Every day, NPs stand together and advocate for their patients and their colleagues. AANP is proud to be The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner® and stand up for the right of patients to have full and direct access to the health care provider of their choice. By advocating for Full Practice Authority at the state level and important federal issues, NPs across the country have established themselves as role models for their fellow health care professionals and are leading positive changes in their own communities.

Learn More About These Outstanding NP Leaders

Do you want to learn more about NP leaders like Drs. Wilbeck, Edwards, Manole and Haney? Listen to the latest episodes of NP Voice: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner® to hear these and other NPs’ stories firsthand and find out what it takes to be a leader in your community.

Nurse of the Week: Her Cool Head and RN Skills Saved Husband’s Life After Boating Accident

Nurse of the Week: Her Cool Head and RN Skills Saved Husband’s Life After Boating Accident

RN Tammy Brown – our Nurse of the Week – is a good person to have around on an accident scene. Being “good in a crisis” is an essential component of the nursing skill set, but the stress and stakes are a little more challenging when the accident victim is your spouse, the accident is horrific and painful, and you have to prevent his/her death from shock and blood loss until the emergency team arrives. When that happens, your spouse can justifiably refer to you as “the ultimate hero.”

In this case, Tammy’s nursing expertise and preternatural cool saved her husband’s life on October 16. On that afternoon the Browns’ idyllic boating trip to Sand Island near Pensacola, Florida came to a premature and gruesome end when Tammy’s husband Rob (a clinical pharmacist) got his leg caught in the boat’s propeller. The beauty of the island and water often attracts local boaters, but the water was nearly deserted that afternoon when the Browns set out. When the boat kept getting stuck in some sand not far from the shore, Rob got into the water and went behind the boat to push it, while Tammy manned the steering wheel and worked the throttle to reverse. Then, she heard her husband’s agonized scream over the noise of the motor, “You got me! You got me!” – and their pleasure cruise metamorphosed into a scene from a Grand Guignol horror movie – complete with a bona fide jump scare.

While Tammy was trying to maneuver them free of the sand, a wave had hit the boat, which then bumped into Rob, causing him to slip and fall. His leg met the propeller, and as the motor ran, the blades chopped into his limb with the mindless and relentless brutality of the shark in Jaws. As Tammy later explained, “The boat came back with the waves and the current, and it [the propeller] grabbed him. It grabbed his foot. Then it took his whole leg, broke his femur and took all of his calf off.”

Tammy immediately pivoted to Trauma Nurse mode – with a dash of the adrenaline-fueled super-powers that often come when a loved one’s life is at stake. She jumped into the water, and tried to calm her spouse-turned-patient as she dragged him back to shore, reassuring him, “Baby we got this, we got this, calm down, we got this.” As she noted the severed lower part of Rob’s leg floating on the water, her husband gasped, “tourniquet.”  Seeking the nearest rope, she headed for the anchor, “Everything was up. I had to jump on that boat.” She added, wonderingly, “I don’t know how I got on that boat. I’m short. Normally, I can’t climb on a jet ski without help.” In those moments, he [Rob] knew he was very close to dying,” Tammy told a local reporter after the incident.

Back on solid ground, she focused on curbing the blood loss from her husband’s mangled limb. Grabbing the rope, she got to work. “I had the leg, just trying to hold the leg together and hold the tourniquet,” she recalled, but an injury this severe allowed no time for tarrying. Once her makeshift tourniquet was in place, she hunted for her phone to call 911, and realized the phone was still on the boat. So, she coaxed Rob to hold onto the rope/tourniquet while she went back to the boat. After she retrieved the phone and returned to her husband’s side, Tammy faced a new challenge: making a call with gore-soaked hands. “My phone wouldn’t open.” Then, “I couldn’t get it to swipe because I have blood, tissue, and water on my hand… I was rubbing [the phone] in my hair trying to dry it. I started praying to God to please open my phone.”

Tammy somehow managed to call emergency services, then continued praying for divine support. The wait must have seemed endless. “Tammy sat on her husband’s leg, held his tourniquet, repeatedly called 911, and begged for help for 40 minutes until a U.S. Coast Guard speedboat located them on the beach,” according to the Pensacola News Journal. When the Coast Guard reached the pair, Tammy told them to take her husband to a hospital immediately, then to return and pick her up from the scene on Sand Island. As the Coast Guard ship carried Rob to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, “I started walking the sand and praying to God to keep him … and as I was walking on the sand … all I could see was Rob’s bloodline.”

Once she reached Rob’s bedside, her optimism came flooding back. “[I said] ‘Praise the Lord! He’s alive. He is alive. It’s a miracle.’” In all likelihood, her quick actions and cool head saved Rob’s life. After five surgeries, he’s on his way out of the ICU and the hospital is fitting him for a prosthetic. “When you think all is lost, and you think there’s no hope, or this is it — hold on … hold on tight,” said Tammy.

The horrible freak accident has failed to sour the recent West Virginia expats on the joys of boating, though, and they have no intention of forsaking their trips to Sand Island. Rob started using a walker a week later, and they plan to resume their favorite Floridian activity after he fully recovers and can handle a prosthetic leg. Tammy sounds almost yearning as she describes the joys of their island trips: “We’d have the sand and all the beauty of the island in front of us. Then we go over to the Gulf-side and get in the waves. We’d have lunch in the boat… feed the birds. We go out on that boat, and we go to this island,” she declares. “We have our own spot, and we plan to do it again.”

For more on this story, see the Pensacola News Journal or visit Florida’s News Channel 8.

Nurse of the Week Ashlee Schwartz: Caring “Brings Joy to Your Life”

Nurse of the Week Ashlee Schwartz: Caring “Brings Joy to Your Life”

The pandemic was in full swing as ICU nurse Ashlee Schwartz entered her tenth year as a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but while critical care nurses may feel like they’re running on fumes these days, their profound sense of empathy and ability to care is still running at full steam. Like this Nurse of the Week, they continue to put the “C” in ICU as they go above and beyond to bring comfort to their charges.

When Schwartz – already a 2017 and 2018 Daisy Award winner – saw 23-year-old Eric Robison watching his 22-year-old wife Emily breathe with the aid of a ventilator, the sight went straight to the RN’s heart. Emily had recently given birth to a daughter, but the Covid-plagued young family was in no shape to celebrate. “The image will forever be inscribed in my head. He was just staring in a daze. It literally broke my heart to pieces,” Schwartz said. “Especially as an ICU nurse, the reality of life with this virus is any patient’s story could very well be our own story someday – and I just thought to myself, ‘What if this was me sitting in this chair staring into my husband’s room?'”

Due to Emily’s youth, her husband and clinicians had been hopeful even after she was placed on a ventilator, and Schwartz, a mother herself, stepped in for Emily as the unvaccinated new mom did battle with the relentless virus. Newborns require a LOT of equipment, so Schwartz started by announcing the birth of baby Carmen on Facebook and sent out a call for baby gear, as the beleaguered little family had not had the leisure to stock up on infant essentials. With a nurse’s thoroughness, she set up registries on Amazon, Go Fund Me, and other popular sites – and the response was astounding. The Go Fund Me raised $16,000, and over 200 people donated gifts.

“I remember all I could picture was if Emily was going to be able to overcome COVID, more than likely, Carmen would be home before Emily. Emily was going to be in the ICU for a handful of months and then go to intensive rehab and all I could picture after that was her coming home and walking into her house and having nothing for her new baby,” Schwartz said.

Tragically, Carmen’s 22-year-old mother succumbed to the virus even as caring strangers all over Arkansas and beyond donated gifts and cash for the baby girl.

“Never would I have imagined that gifts would start pouring in from all over Arkansas and the rest of the country,” Robison told CNN. “It’s bittersweet because I wish Emily was still alive to see it. But not having to worry about Carmen being taken care of is one less thing I have to worry about right now.”

“I called Eric and asked if he and Emily had a baby registry and he didn’t know what a registry was. He said all they had for Carmen were clothes. As Emily was fighting for her life, I just felt called and a sense of responsibility to make sure this baby had everything she needed,” Schwartz said.

“All I could picture was Emily coming home after being in the hospital for months and not having much of anything for Carmen and asking herself ‘Why did someone not help me?'”

After Emily’s death, Schwartz, with Eric’s blessing, made two pictures of the young mom’s handprints, so Carmen will “forever have a keepsake of her mama.” As she told Fox, “I love to see other people blessed, it makes my heart so happy, I’m so overwhelmed with happiness. If you can pay life forward to people it brings so much joy to your life, sometimes those acts of kindness, people will never forget.”

Robison now regards Schwartz as a family connection, and says, “Ashlee will be in Carmen’s life until she’s older and Ashlee’s sons and my daughter will probably be best friends.”

For more on this story, see CNN:


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