Inspiring Stories

Nurse Honored With DAISY Award After Showing Admirable Qualities of Palm Tree

Published: Oct. 28, 2020
Jay West with his wife, Diane, and son, Jason

Jay West describes himself as a “connector.”

The pastor at Kingdom Encounters, a small church in Omaha, loves getting to know people and connecting his friends to others so they can thrive.

He’s also not shy about pointing out good work when he sees it.

During his wife’s long stay at Methodist Hospital this year, he has handed out coffee gift cards to thank staff members, bought a dessert platter for a nursing unit and nominated a handful of nurses for The DAISY Award, which honors extraordinary skill and compassion in nursing.

“We believe in helping others, blessing others and encouraging others,” Jay said. “When I see really good things happening, I have an opportunity to make a difference.”

Which is what led him to an elevator at Methodist Hospital in early October. As he rode from the sixth floor – where his wife, Diane, was still being cared for on the Oncology Unit – to the ninth, he met Josie Abboud, FACHE, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital.

They were both headed to the same place – a celebration of someone who exemplifies The Meaning of Care.


New Challenges, and “Little Miracles”

It had been a long road for the West family.

Diane, who has chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), went to Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center on Aug. 5 for infusion therapy. But her heart was racing, and she was admitted to Methodist Hospital instead.

It was the start of a new chapter in her medical journey. Doctors discovered that her CLL had transformed into lymphoma. More concerning was the host of other medical problems she soon experienced. In the weeks that followed, Diane experienced kidney problems and was placed on dialysis. She spent two days on a ventilator. She also at times battled seizures, a blood infection and a C. diff infection, among other ailments – all while getting chemo treatments.

The family worked with doctors, nurses and staff from across the hospital – including Seth Williams, BSN, RN, a nurse on the cardiac unit – as Diane slowly overcame the challenges before her.

“We’ve seen what I would describe as little miracles along the way,” Jay said. “We believe God is working through medicine and providing answers and solutions.”


“The Palm Tree Award”

Diane spent time on the ninth-floor cardiac unit not for her heart, but because the unit offered a level of care similar to the ICU. Williams quickly made an impact on the Wests with his care and attitude.

“Seth was just super encouraging,” Jay said. “No matter what was going on with her, he just said, ‘You can do this. You can make it. You’re going to get better. Look at how you’re improving.’ He wouldn’t exaggerate. He would pinpoint little things that had already happened that he could see.”

Jay was so impressed with Williams’ effort that he nominated him for The DAISY Award. And he was glad to take the elevator ride earlier this month to see Williams receive the award.

In his nomination, Jay wrote that Williams “served us with enthusiasm and joy like he truly wanted to see my wife get well. Honestly, his overall attitude was fantastic.”

Then he added a twist that made Williams and his coworkers roar with laughter as it was read aloud: “The DAISY Award is too feminine. It should be the Palm Tree Award for guys. Palm trees grow in an oasis – full of water, with deep roots and elasticity to bend in a storm and bounce back. Seth was a great example of this.”

Jay West with Seth Williams, BSN, RN, at The DAISY Award ceremony

Jay later said: “A palm tree is usually found in the desert where there’s an oasis. You need shade. You need comfort because it’s so hot. It was like that for us. We were just scorched from all these medical issues, and Seth was like that palm tree, providing some relief, some encouragement.”

Williams said he was “shell-shocked” by the award. When Abboud told him about her elevator ride with Jay, where he “raved and raved about you,” Williams replied that he was simply doing his job.

He then gave a shout out to his coworkers, saying he couldn’t take sole credit for the award, and offered a quip of his own.

“I’m humbled that someone would even say that about me,” Williams said. “But calling me a palm tree is pretty awesome. I’d rather be a palm tree than a daisy. Palm trees imply beaches and shady things and fun.”


Closer to Heading Home

Diane is still recovering at Methodist Hospital, and Jay is seeing what he calls “little victories”: an improved heart rate and getting off dialysis and blood pressure medication. She began physical therapy in mid-October, and she recently moved to the rehabilitation floor at Methodist hospital – steps that move her closer to being discharged.

Whenever that day comes, the Wests won’t forget the care they received at Methodist Hospital.

“We’ve made all this progress,” Jay said. “We fully expect her to recover and get home. And we wouldn’t have done it without so many amazing nurses like Seth."

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About the Author

Patrick Smith, a content strategist for Methodist Health System, has over a decade of experience writing and editing for newspapers and other publications. He enjoys meeting new people and telling stories that highlight Methodist's mission to deliver The Meaning of Care.

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