Tessa Ellis, a registered nurse at St. Mary's Health Center in Jefferson City, was awarded the hospital's first DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses last week for the exceptional care and attention she provided a patient during his hospital stay in 2013.
Ellis was nominated by her former patient, Russell Greenhagen and his wife, Karen. The St. Mary's Auxiliary also played a part in honoring Ellis with the award.
The DAISY Award comes from the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1999 in memory of Patrick Barnes who died from an auto-immune disease at the age of 33. His family wanted to create an award to honor outstanding nurses, like the ones who treated Barnes. Awards are presented across the country.
Greenhagen said he nominated Ellis for the award because he's never encountered a nurse like her.
He said she went above and beyond her professional duties.
"From an emotional standpoint, I was very ill on my wedding anniversary," Greenhagen said. "I expressed the fact that I always give my wife Karen an anniversary gift, but I wouldn't be able to do it this year. That evening, Tessa went out and bought roses and let me dictate a little note to Karen."
Greenhagen's hospital stay and brief stay at St. Joseph's Bluffs lasted nearly four months.
"Even when I was out of the ICU, she (Ellis) would come sometimes with her small children and sometimes even with her husband to visit me after she finished her shift at the hospital," Greenhagen said. "In visiting me, she did a great thing."
When Greenhagen was recuperating from his illness at St. Joseph's Bluffs, Ellis came to visit him and noticed something just wasn't right with him. He had a bacterial infection.
"She recognized immediately that it was serious, and after she reported it to the doctor, I was sent back to the hospital for a week," Greenhagen said.
He said he had many good doctors and nurses at St. Mary's, but something about Ellis stood out.
"I just want to thank her," Greenhagen said. "Thank you for your extraordinary care."
Ellis said the award was a complete surprise to her, and she was honored and excited to receive it.
She said she felt a connection with Greenhagen from the beginning.
"His story is pretty amazing," she said. "He's been one of our successes, and it's nice to see that."