Thank a Nurse
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My 81 year old grandfather recently had his bladder and prostate removed. I had the privilege to stay long hours in the hospital with him, to comfort him and be his advocate. One particular day, four days after surgery, he had a day that I can only describe as heart breaking. With a fever of 104, heart rate over 120 and blood pressure of 250/84, I watched his body shut down.

His usually pleasant demeanor became combative and quickly turned to non-responsive. He was breathing on his own, so we were never worried about losing him, but it was a scary four hours. When one thing got under control another issue quickly popped up. All hands were on deck to figure out what was happening.

The fever indicated an infection in his body. IV meds to reduce his blood pressure and Tylenol to break the fever eventually kicked in and his slowly opened his eyes and became alert, not remembering the physically demanding day his body had just been through.

I bring this up because he had a nurse that day who never left his bedside in eight hours. While she had three other patients to attend to, her colleagues covered her other duties as she made him her priority. We exchanged ideas, I jumped in when I could tell she needed another set of hands. She was always one step ahead during a very difficult situation. In my opinion, she did not get enough recognition from the doctors on staff for the physically and emotionally grueling day she powered through.

This nurse deserves a medal. In the wee hours of the night, I wrote her a thank you letter. She’ll never know how grateful I am that she was there that day.

It also reminded me that over the summer I had an exceptional nurse at Jefferson during a ketamine stay when I had a really bad day as well. I sent her a thank you note as well. So often as patients we come across people who we feel aren’t listening to us. When someone in the medical field does an outstanding job, they need the recognition and to know that what they do makes a difference.

I’m sharing the thank you letters I wrote to my grandpa’s nurse and to my nurse at Jefferson. I’m not doing this to get any kudos for being a good person, but to inspire you to thank those in the medical field. They often have a thankless job even though we entrust them to aide in our care.

Please feel free to steal any parts of the letters I am sharing to use in your own thank you letters. When you write one, it can be delivered in a number of different ways. Mail it to the hospital or doctor’s office to the nurse’s attention, send it directly to their manager, leave the note at the nurse’s station when you are discharged or find out if there are any awards you can nominate them for within the hospital. For example, I know that Jefferson has the “Daisy Awards” that specifically honors exceptional nurses.

To the nurse helping my grandfather:

Dear D,

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your diligent attention and expertise in caring for my grandfather after he had his bladder and prostate removed. One day in particular about four days after surgery, his condition quickly deteriorated as his body began to fight an infection. Fever, incredibly high blood pressure and increased heart rate had me questioning if he was going to make it through.

You never left his side that day. For hours you stayed by his bedside tackling each new symptom that popped up every time we turned around. It was an intense and physically challenging day as we worked as a team to care for him.

Due to a miscommunication with the urology team, you did not receive the full support you needed. I commend you for fighting for my grandfather and his needs. You are an exceptional nurse who is not only compassionate, but also extremely knowledgeable and fast on your feet. My grandfather was lucky to have you that day.

He is currently in a nursing home/ rehab facility. He is making slow, but steady progress. He’s a fighter and is working hard to come home soon. I thank you for all you did. I hope that we will cross paths again, but hopefully not under such dire circumstances. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know. I will also make sure your manager gets a copy of this letter for consideration in your next review.

Sincerely,

Katie Golden

To the nurse at Jefferson:

V-,

I’m compelled to extend my sincerest gratitude in providing me with the best care during my stay at Jefferson. While your normal duties typically serve those in serious pain after orthopedic surgeries, I was lucky that you had experience with ketamine. Other nurses were not as familiar with the protocol of using ketamine in migraine patients, which hindered my care. Your expertise helped to keep my treatment on the right track.

I’ve been to Jefferson four times for the in-patient ketamine treatment to manage my debilitating chronic migraines. This disease has changed my life, but the cutting edge treatments offered at Jefferson have allowed me to manage my illness more effectively.

During my stay, I trusted you to monitor my potent meds, to check on me and coordinate with the multiple teams to help reduce my pain. I trusted you for even the most humane of duties; helping me shower.

You have a kind heart and are incredibly smart. You have a fantastic future ahead of you. Please let me know if I can ever do anything for you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

-Katie Golden

Have you ever encountered a medical professional in your journey that made a difference to you? Did you do anything special to thank them? Keep in mind that National Nurses Day is Saturday, May 6th, 2017 and Doctors Day is Thursday, March 30th, 2017, which may be good times to do something special for these extraordinary people.

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