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Montville Nurse Wins 'Extraordinary' Award

NICU nurse nominated for award by peers after grateful patient writes letter to hospital.

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When Saramma Pappachen, RN, BA, of Montville accepted the DAISY Foundation Award for Extraordinary Nurses on Oct. 12, she proudly described her approach to patient care:

“We treat our babies like VIBs--very important babies.”  That “we” is she and her fellow nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-The University Hospital.  It is a unit where nursing premature babies from the brink of death to healthiness is the norm.

One such baby is Darrell Simmons, Jr., who weighed just under one pound when he was born on Aug. 3 at 25 weeks. His parents, Darrell Sr. and Amanda, were so impressed and pleased with the way that his nurse, Pappachen, cared for him that they wrote a thank you letter to the hospital. This led to Pappachen’s peers nominating her for the DAISY Award.

“She made me feel hopeful during a very difficult time,” Simmons wrote.  “She always seemed to go the extra mile in her care and service. She still calls in to check on our son who is now five months old and over seven pounds and doing very well.”

The DAISY Award is a national nursing excellence recognition program used by more than 1,200 hospitals nationally.  It recognizes nurses who give compassionate bedside care and regularly demonstrate super-human tasks that nurses are expected to perform each day.  DAISY Award recipients are nominated by their peers, patients or families.  They are selected by their peers, and UMDNJ-The University Hospital presents the award to a total of six nurses annually on a bi-monthly basis.

During the October award presentation, Pappachen received a leather bound DAISY Award certificate, lapel pin, a unique hand-carved stone sculpture from Zimbabwe entitled “A Healers Touch,” and a bouquet of daisies from James R. Gonzalez, MPH, FACHEinterim president and chief executive officer, UMDNJ-The University Hospital. She also received praise from the hospital’s vice president and chief nursing officer, Theresa Rejrat, RN.  In addition, Pappachen will be featured on the DAISY Award Foundation’s website.  The NICU staff where Pappachen works shared in the award winnings by having cinnamon rolls supplied for the unit by Cinnabon after the presentation.

Created in 2000, the DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an auto immune disease. The DAISY Award – an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System – was designed by the Barnes family to honor and recognize the compassion and clinical skills of the nurses who cared for him.


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