Toni Wilburn, an RN in Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), was recently presented with a DAISY Award for the compassion and care she showed to COVID-19 patients nearing the end of their lives.
Piedmont Fayette is on a Level IV visitation policy due to COVID-19, meaning that outside of a few exceptions, including end of life, visitors are not allowed at the hospital. Wilburn was caring for a patient who had no immediate family nearby and was nearing the end of their life. She sat with this patient, holding their hands, and singing “I’ll Fly Away.” It was a moment that touched the heart of her colleagues in the ICU and resulted in a well-deserved nomination for a prestigious award.
“Our ICU team has been on the front lines battling this virus since the middle of March and they have provided incredible care under extremely difficult circumstances,” said Merry Heath, Chief Nursing Officer at Piedmont Fayette. “Toni is an amazing nurse and we are extremely proud of the care she provides. She is a shining example of Piedmont’s purpose, which is to make a positive difference in every life we touch.”
The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 in 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, a little known but not uncommon autoimmune disease. The care Barnes and his family received from nurses inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and their families.
“My faith in God keeps me grounded, and, most of all, not afraid,” said Wilburn. “Sadly, I had to watch my patient transition after all life-saving measures were exhausted. I couldn’t allow them to die alone. I stood in for the family, stayed at the bedside, and never stopped holding their hands.”
Wilburn shared her experience with her fellow staff members during National Nurses Week, penning a letter and stressing that “giving 100-plus percent is the one and only option” when it comes to caring for patients.
For more information about the DAISY Award, visit daisyfoundation.org.
For more information about nursing career opportunities at Piedmont Fayette, visit piedmontcareers.org.