SJMAA DAISY Winners Change Lives Through Kindness, Skill

Dan Tjarks, BSN, RN

11 East Progressive Care Medical Oncology Unit

January 2020 DAISY Award

Dan Tjarks, BSN, RN on 11 East Oncology, is the caliber of nurse anyone would hope to have care for a loved one. His calm, skilled and compassionate approach to the nursing profession helped ease the transition of a patient, while also ensuring the family was supported. Even though Dan had other patients, he made certain that a terminally ill patient received exceptional care by checking in hourly and staying in contact with the Attending and Palliative Care physicians to help ensure the patient was as comfortable as possible. All the while, Dan provided simple, clear but caring updates to the family so they knew what to expect and help prepare themselves for when the patient passed. The family expressed their sincere gratitude for Dan’s understanding and gentle care: “Dan Tjarks is the role model that all health care professionals should endeavor to emulate. From the bottom of our hearts we thank Dan for his knowledge, compassion and dedication to providing our dear sister the best care possible.” 

Remarkable nursing brings comfort and light to patients and their families when they need it most.  We are proud to honor Dan with this DAISY Award for being that caring light.

Amanda Coutts, BSN, RN

Unit – SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit)

July 2020 SJMAA DAISY Winner

Amanda Coutts, RN, BSN has been a member of the St. Joe’s Ann Arbor team since 2015, starting on 2 North PCU and then transferred to SICU in 2020. While working in the fast-paced SICU environment, Amanda continued her education to be a Nurse Practitioner.  This focused drive to improve is balanced with a deeply compassionate and level-headed way of caring for patients and supporting the entire team. 

Amanda was nominated for her DAISY award by a provider who first noticed her quick-thinking, ice-cool way of caring for a difficult, often abusive patient with dementia. In spite of having unpleasant comments yelled at her and the patient lashing out, Amanda not only remained calm and professional, but showed the patient remarkable compassion. The physician also observed Amanda leverage her extensive knowledge and incisive observations to effectively communicate potential issues to the care team, helping to address concerns before they developed into more serious problems. The general surgery physician who nominated Amanda also praised her for taking the time to teach the doctor a few technical skills that helped improve care, but the most vital lessons where around the human side of care: “The most valuable skill I learned from Amanda was about patient care, especially elderly patients… Amanda has the unique ability to diffuse tense situations, calm patients down, which helps prevent falls and other injuries.”

Thank-you Amanda for your commitment to improve the care and safety of our patients, colleagues and providers. Your dedication, heart and ability define the ideals of the DAISY Award.

Suzanne Farris, RN

Unit: Labor and Delivery

October 2020 DAISY Award

Suzanne Farris, RN is more than a dedicated, compassionate nurse.  She cares for her patients and their families with the utmost skill and care, using her more than two decades of experience to provide a positive experience that can last a lifetime. 

Sue has worked as a nurse at St. Joseph Mercy, Ann Arbor for over 22 years.  Patients and families alike often comment on the great care that they received from Sue.

A patient stated: “Sue forever has left an impact on my life and is one of the main reasons I had such a great experience at St. Joe’s.  She was more than my nurse during her shift, she was a friend and family to us.”  That thankful patient explained that Sue was caring for her leading up to the birth of a child, and once the delivery began, Sue stayed well beyond her shift coaching and encouraging the patient, ensuring she was completely comfortable. Because of COVID, the patient was not able to have full family support with her. Sue stepped up when needed and demonstrated the highest ideals of the nursing profession.

Sue’s kindness and compassion are amazing, and she truly deserves to be recognized by the DAISY Award for going above and beyond to provide great care for patients. St. Joe’s is extremely blessed to have her as part of our team. 

Caitlin Spencer, RN

Unit: MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit)

November 2020 DAISY Award

Caitlin began working on 6N PCU as a new graduate nurse and quickly established an excellent reputation as someone willing to take on new challenges.  Her positive outlook and “can do” attitude had an immediate, positive impact on the team. During the COVID surge, Caitlin rapidly trained to work in the MICU – to meet the increased demand for support. Caitlin is always willing to do what she’s asked to do and more, she also stays laser-focused on the needs of her patients.  Caitlin is particularly gifted in connecting with her patients and their families and pours her heart into her work. The family who nominated Caitlin recounted how this talented nurse made every effort to provide their ailing mother with excellent, respectful care as she passed: “Caitlin gave my mother her last moments of dignity, that everyone deserves. I believe she does this for every patient. She didn’t do us any favors or provide us any special treatment, but it was her genuine way of working.  Caitlin’s understanding of human fragility and her humility makes her the best medical professional I have ever witnessed.”

She is not only a joy to work with and an asset to the team, Caitlin is that rare person who can provide personal, highly engaged care to all her patients, regardless of the situation. This balance of heart and skill make Caitlin a worthy DAISY Award winner. Congratulations and thank you.

Anna Brown, RN

Unit – 1 East Inpatient Behavioral Health

December 2020 SJMAA DAISY Winner

Legendary for her upbeat demeanor, kindness and gentle strength, Anna Brown, RN, is playfully referred to as 1 East’s own “Disney Princess.” However, this term of endearment also reflects the team’s immense respect for the intelligent, soft-spoken, yet determined approach to caring for people that won her praise from colleagues and patients over her eight-year career with the 1 East Behavioral Health Unit.  Patients feel blessed to have Anna involved in their care: “I will always remember her smile, kindness and gentle spirit,” said one such patient.  “Anna approached me in the most graceful and humble way during the hardest, most embarrassing and scariest time … I don’t state this lightly, but I credit Anna for saving my life…”   Anna is the definition of a compassionate, kind and caring nurse.

In addition to being a highly skilled RN, Anna’s deep faith is exemplified in her healing approach to patient care and her ever-lasting positive attitude, especially when unexpected events occur.  Being a good steward of people and resources comes naturally to Anna.

She is the recipient of several DAISY nominations – evidence that she is loved and appreciated by her colleagues.  Her approach to patient care and staff relationships is based on compassion and reverence for all she serves.