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Methodist Hospital Critical Care Nurse Honored With The DAISY Award After Providing 'Complete Care'Published: April 28, 2022
That’s how Cathy Landas describes what her family received from one particular Methodist Hospital critical care nurse during her husband’s battle with COVID-19.
“She never lost sight of all the aspects of what was going on, and she helped my kids through it in a lot of ways, as well,” said Cathy, a nurse at Methodist Physicians Clinic. “Complete care is care of patient and care of family, and she never missed, in my opinion, doing the right thing for Gary and his care.”
Because of her impact on the Landas family, Jessica White, RN, recently received The DAISY Award.
In December, the Landas family was prepared to take Gary off the ventilator because he’d been at Methodist for over a month with no signs of improvement. That’s also when the family learned that he was an organ donor. And if the family wanted to honor his wishes, Gary would need to be kept on the ventilator for at least another 24 hours to find a match.
Cathy didn’t know if she could handle watching her husband continue to fight another day.
But White told Cathy that if they decided to go through with letting Gary be a donor, she’d keep him as comfortable as possible. She even offered to trade shifts with a colleague to be there for Gary the entire time.
“For her to assure me that she would be there and to change her schedule to do that meant so much because it made my decision easier,” Cathy said.
The family decided to keep the ventilator on and trusted White to do her job.
One of the Landas children wrote in their nomination letter about White’s willingness to stay by their father’s side: “She had already worked past the end of her shift the night before, but she was resilient and committed to our family and to my dad's care the entire time. It made all the difference in getting us over the finish line and enabling us to honor his choice to be a donor.”
Because of her nursing background, Cathy desired to be well informed about Gary’s condition and his progression. But she said she struggled at times to take a step back from being a nurse and just be his wife. That’s where White stepped in to help remind her, especially during more challenging times.
“I tried to reassure her that ‘I am here, and I’m watching all of this stuff,’” White said. “He needed her right now for the emotional support and to be his wife.”
Cathy appreciated the way that White could modify her tone.
“Jessica was really skilled at talking to me as a nurse when it was appropriate and talking to me as a wife with a critically ill, dying husband,” Cathy said. “She smoothly switched how she interacted with me, and that meant a lot to me.”
Prior to moving to Omaha and joining the Methodist team in the clinic setting, Cathy had spent time as a critical care and ER nurse at a hospital in Iowa, so she and White shared multiple stories about their experiences and developed a strong bond. And even though Cathy knew she was in good hands with any nurse at Methodist, there was something that stood out about White.
“It was an extremely hard time for me, as you can imagine, and there was never a nurse that I didn’t trust or feel comfortable with,” Cathy said. “But when Jessica was around, I even slept better when I knew that she was there with him because I knew that if something happened that I needed to know about, I was 100% sure that she would communicate with me.”
As Gary’s COVID battle persisted for over a month, Cathy continued to fight to keep her husband alive – but she needed extra support.
“I can remember that every day she just looked a little more tired and was conflicted with what to do,” White said. “I just tried to be there to be that extra set of ears for her.”
And Cathy knew that she and her family were never alone during the ups and downs.
“No matter how busy Jessica was, she just was always there,” Cathy said. “She always made sure that I knew if there were changes or anything that she thought that I would want to know, both as a nurse and as a wife.”
In addition to the support that Jessica provided, Cathy credits her coworkers at Indian Hills for keeping her going and continuing to help her during the time following Gary’s passing.
“Methodist has outstanding people working for them who love and care for each other in tremendous ways not seen by others,” she said. “They go above and beyond both for not only their patients, but also for each other. That’s what makes the people of Methodist so special.”
Helping for Those Who Feel Helpless
White knew she wanted to have a career in medicine after witnessing her grandfather struggle to receive the care that her family thought he needed.
That’s why she pursued a certified nursing assistant (CNA) license when she was in high school and became certified at the age of 17.
“I don’t ever want anybody to feel helpless, and a lot of times when someone has a loved one in the hospital, that’s how they feel,” White said. “So I really went into nursing to help people not have to feel so helpless in certain situations, whether that be the patient or the family.”
She has spent two and a half years in her current role on the critical care team. White will graduate with a master’s degree from Nebraska Methodist College in May.
While each day on the job presents its own challenges, she feels honored to be a nurse.
“I absolutely love what I do,” White said. “It’s a privilege to get to take care of patients, and it’s a privilege to be trusted to take care of their loved ones.”
She also appreciates how much the entire health system works as a team.
“I love all my coworkers,” she said. “That’s not only the nurses on 7 North, but Methodist in general. When you think of a team, it’s not just your team. It’s respiratory, pharmacy, therapies, phlebotomy, spiritual services, imaging, dietitians, and multiple physicians from different specialties. It’s how well everyone works together to make sure that we’re giving the best care that we can.”