Emergency Department nurse lauded for care of teen

PHOTO PROVIDEDHeather Cartee, RN is the recipient of the The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in a surprise ceremony in the Emergency Department of the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH – A nurse whose compassionate care and ability to connect with a patient in distress likely prevented significant psychological harm is being celebrated as the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital’s (CVPH) latest recipient of The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses ®.

Heather Cartee, RN was presented the award during a surprise ceremony in the hospital’s Emergency Department.

Cartee is CVPH’s 11th nurse to receive the honor since its inception in 2018. She was nominated by Tiffany Bombard, NRP, MD, who witnessed the extraordinary care Cartee provided to a teenager.


In her nomination letter, Dr. Bombard noted the developmentally delayed teen had been in a confrontation with police when he arrived at CVPH’s Emergency Department.

She said the patient remained confrontational with staff and was displaying aggressive behavior until Cartee caught his eye and made a connection.

“She smiled through her mask," Bombard said.

"She joked with him. She charmed him. She earned his trust."

After that, the patient was able to calm down and begin working appropriately with the ED staff.

However, that changed when the patient’s stepfather left, leading to more safety concerns.

Dr. Bombard said that when Cartee heard this, she came into the teen’s room and connected with him again.

“She hugged him," Bombard said.

"What a gamble, but she had judged the situation perfectly.

"It was exactly what he needed. He actually smiled. The next thing I knew, the two of them were working out math problems using a dry erase marker on the window of the room.”


She credited Cartee, a 19-year veteran of CVPH who has spent the last seven years in the Emergency Department, with making sure that the patient made it through the night safely with minimal restraint, avoiding potentially enormous psychological harm, adding that Cartee changed a life.

Gail Bjelko, BSN, RN, TCRN, who is the Emergency Department Director said that level of care is something patients can always expect from Cartee.

“Heather goes above and beyond to help patients and their families," Bjelko said.

"Whether in the Emergency Department or working on other floors in the hospital, she does what needs to be done to support the patients, their families and her colleagues. Her flexibility is commendable."

CVPH Chief Nursing Officer Carrie Howard-Canning, MSN, MBA, RN, CNS-BC, CENP praised Cartee as a shining example of the nursing team at the hospital and the commitment from each nurse to provide compassionate care for every patient.

“Our organization is as strong as our nursing staff," Howard-Canning said.

"Each individual who works in the nursing profession brings hope, humanity and courage to the lives they touch daily. The DAISY Award gives us an opportunity to celebrate one another."


During the award ceremony, Cartee was presented with a certificate commending her as an extraordinary nurse.

She, like all honorees, also received a DAISY Award pin and a beautiful and meaningful sculpture called “A Healer’s Touch,” which is hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.

Afterward, Cartee explained that while she was honored to be named a DAISY Award recipient, her true reward comes from the impact she has on her patients.

“This is why I got into the health care profession, to help patients and their family members during what can be the scariest times of their lives when they’re sick either mentally or physically," she said.

"As nurses, we’re here to help our community feel safe and help them through the hardest times."


CVPH launched the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in early 2018 as a way to recognize and reward licensed nurses for making a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients. Nomination forms and boxes are located at each of the hospital’s main entrances and online at UVMHealth.org/CVPHDaisy.

Nurses may be nominated by patients, families, and colleagues. A committee reviews nominations and each quarter, awards the honor to a deserving nurse.

The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s mission to recognize the extraordinary, compassionate nursing care they provide patients and families every day. The DAISY Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease.







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