When Pat and Tena Barnes celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary 15 years ago, Pat was in the hospital, yet filled with optimism.
John “Pat” Barnes had been admitted four weeks previously and diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP, a usually chronic disorder where people excessively bruise and bleed because of unusually low levels of platelets, the cells that help your blood clot.
Pat was optimistic by nature, the kind of person who lived each day to the fullest. The Barneses were optimistic because a physician said a bone marrow transplant should help cure him.
But the optimism was reversed when another physician said no, Pat was suffering from ITP and they would continue the current treatment – treatment that hadn’t worked for four weeks.
“I knew then the clock was ticking,” said Tena on Thursday, now Tena Barnes Carraher.
Four weeks later Pat, 33, was dead.
In her grief, she was determined to do something for her husband.
The care that he received in hospitals in Amarillo, Texas, and Seattle impressed her, especially the care from the nurses. Their effort was more than medical. They would get Tena and other family members food or coffee when they needed it.
The nurses took special steps to make sure Pat was presentable when she visited.
They explained to her the treatments Pat was getting. As a mother of a young child, Tena couldn’t be at the hospital all the time. She relied on the nurses at a time when she was most scared and vulnerable and “they gave me a comfort level.”
Most of all, they hugged her, became part of her family and cried with her. “They knew our story,” she said.
To honor all nurses, Tena Barnes Carraher and Pat’s parents, Bonnie and Mark Barnes, founded the DAISY Foundation. DAISY is an acronym which stands for diseases attacking the immune system. The foundation was formed to say “thank you” to the nurses. The DAISY Award is presented to nurses who give direct care of patients and families every day.
The award is now given at more than 1,780 health institutions in 14 countries. Over 15 years the foundation has honored 40,000 nurses.
On Thursday, Carraher was at Piedmont Medical Center for the monthly employee awards luncheon, presenting Brenda Hare with a DAISY Award for exceptional care as recommended by her patients.
Carraher presented Hare with a Healer’s Touch sculpture. The sculpture is specially made for the foundation by Shona tribesmen in Zimbabwe.
Carraher stressed to Hare and PMC employees, a message she has given over and over to nurses.
“Nurses say, ‘I didn’t do anything special,’ But you do things you may not remember, but to the patients, to the families, you do things they will never forget. They will never forget you.”