They made supporting the family’s emotional needs a top priority

Anonymous, Employee

Last year, a family lost their young child after a tragic accident. While no family is ever ready to say good bye to their loved one, losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Donating loved ones’ organs may not be an easy decision for all but this family knew this tragic situation could lead to a positive outcome for another patient and family. The  Bronson Methodist Hospital (BMH) Trauma Care Unit (TCU) nursing staff and multidisciplinary team banded together to ensure they made supporting the family’s emotional needs a top priority.

This high stress situation requires a lot of people from different departments to work together to achieve the best results. The TCU team worked together all day to stabilize the patient for organ procurement. The patient needed numerous drips, the artic sun, and proning to preserve lung function. TCU nurses, PCA’s (patient care assistants), and RT (respiratory therapists) worked together to optimize the family’s wish to donate.

The team also worked together to provide the family an experience they will never forget. Sarah Plane, his nurse, led the team as she had developed a close relationship with the patient’s mother and sister. She not only cried with the family, but laughed at the stories they told about their adventurous child/sibling. Through this story telling, Sarah learned about the child’s love for Star Wars. Sarah decided to go above and beyond by providing the patient’s family a memento of their loved one they would never forget. She contacted her husband at home, asked him to take her own sons to Build-A-Bear and buy a Star Wars themed bear for her patient’s family. She also had him purchase a handful of audio recorders from the store so the team could record her patient’s heartbeat. The recorder would be placed in the bear so every time the family wanted to hear the patient’s heartbeat, all they had to do was give the bear a tight squeeze.

When Sarah’s family arrived on the unit with the bear and recorders, Jennifer Huls, Kateri Duckworth, Kaitlin Sovia, and Amanda Wyman used a doppler to record the young patient’s heartbeat on each recorder while Sarah Plane and Denise Dayton were supporting the family in the waiting room and preparing the family to come back to see their child. The recorder was placed into the bear and a trauma surgeon worked his magic to suture the bear back together. Sarah presented the bear and extra recorders to the family prior to the patient’s departure to the operating room. The whole staff felt a connection with the family and decided to all transport him/her to the OR together. These individuals were PCA Anna Rose, nurses Jennifer Huls, Amanda Wyman, and Sarah Plane, and respiratory therapist William Mcnees.

The mother was so appreciative of the kind gesture she reached out to Jennifer Huls and expressed her thanks for the wonderful care and wanted Sarah and the team to know how connected she felt with each and every one of them. You hear so many phrases when it comes to teamwork, but one that sticks out in my mind is “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This team went above and beyond and left an indelible impact on a family during a devastating experience.

The Trauma Care Unit was recognized with the 2018 DAISY Team Award during the 2019 Nursing Excellence Celebration for their kindness and compassion during this situation. 

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