Critical-care nurse Kathy Dryden’s “above and beyond” service to her patients has earned her St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s inaugural DAISY Award For Extraordinary Nurses. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s nationwide program to recognize the efforts nurses provide everyday.
Dryden’s care and dedication to a patient and his family at the end of his life is what led nurse manager Karen Kaus to nominate Dryden for the award.
Kaus said the wife of the patient who died left a “tearful, appreciative, thoughtful” voicemail about Dryden’s care of her husband. “They were so overwhelmed with what Kathy had done,” Kaus said.
Dryden, of O’Fallon, said she becomes very close, in just a few days, to patients and their families under her care. Dryden couldn’t speak specifically about the circumstances surrounding the patient’s death, due to patient privacy laws.
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However, Dryden said she often sheds tears with family members who make the tough decision to end a patient’s care.
“We do what we have to do. We don’t always have to be a big girl about it.” she said. “It’s not always an easy job, but I wouldn’t do anything else.”
Kaus, who has supervised Dryden for the last four years and has known her for more than 20 years, described Dryden as “phenomenal.”
“Her patients have the ultimate experience,” Kaus said. “She loves her job. She loves her patients. She just goes above and beyond always — that’s just who she is. It’s truly within her, goodness.”
Kaus said Dryden is humble: “She doesn’t do this for praise or accolades. She does it because it’s who she is. It’s the kind of nurse she is.”
Dryden, who is a native of Nebraska, received a sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa.
“It was quite an honor,” Dryden said. “After nursing for 24 years, it was an honor to be rewarded for something you do on a daily basis and don’t expect anything in return for.”
Dryden, 55, has been a nurse in the critical-care unit at St. Elizabeth’s for nearly 23 years. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing from the former Belleville Area College in 1992 after a friend encouraged her to become a nurse.
“When I was in nursing school, that was my favorite day of clinicals,” Dryden said of being in the critical-care unit, “and that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Before becoming a nurse, she was a stay-at-home mother to two boys. Now, she is a grandmother to two grandsons. Dryden described being a nurse as a “great career.”
St. Elizabeth’s introduced participation in the nationally recognized DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing this year to coincide with National Nurses Week. Participation in the DAISY Foundation was made possible through funds provided by the Friends of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Eight nurses at St. Elizabeth’s were nominated for the inaugural award. They include critical-care unit nurses Sidney Knopp and Dawn Kunde; emergency department nurses Liz Nonn, Lori Potter and Sara Randle; medical surgery nurse Lindsay O’Neil and surgery nurse Alex White.
The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation is based in California and was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 in 1999 from complications of an uncommon auto-immune disease.
Patients and visitors can submit nominations for future DAISY Awards at St. Elizabeth’s. A nomination form can be downloaded at http://www.steliz.org/_data/mediaCenter/files/154.pdf.
Meet Kathy Dryden
Job: Critical-care nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital
Recognition: DAISY Award For Extraordinary Nurses
City of residence: O’Fallon
Age: 55 years old
Family: Mother of two adult sons and grandmother to two grandsons
Outlook: “It’s not always an easy job, but I wouldn’t do anything else,” Dryden said.