On the evening of Dec. 4, Lori Salvador stood in the corridor between the main entry of the Carson Valley Medical Center community hospital and the Infusion Center that she’d helped open some 12 years prior.
Excited coworkers and and hospital administration crowded into the hallway, awaiting the announcement of the hospital’s first DAISY Award winner.
The award, created by the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem) Foundation in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, is given by more than 2,700 healthcare facilities in all 50 states and 17 other countries in recognition of extraordinary registered nurses.
Early in 2017, CVMC enrolled in the program. Staff spent most of the ensuing months setting up a committee, implementing standards and requirements, getting the word out about the new recognition program and collecting nominations.
Exciting as the moment was, Salvador, who moved to Carson Valley in 1980, found herself fighting off a bittersweet tinge in her stomach.
She’d eagerly volunteered to serve as the committee’s co-chair, happily attended the organizational meetings throughout the year and looked forward to the selection process.
Then, somewhat inexplicably -- right as the planning process was entering its home stretch -- she was suddenly no longer part of the discussion.
“It was the strangest thing,” she said. “I had been off of work for several days in November, and I returned to find a e-mail saying ‘thanks for attending the nomination committee meeting,’ and that a winner had been selected.”
“I called the co-chair (CVMC Clinical Nurse Educator Andrea Highfill) and just kind of casually asked why I hadn’t been invited and she said it had been a simple error. She apologized, said I must have been left off the e-mail list inadvertently and didn’t offer anything further.”
Nonetheless, Salvador said she couldn’t wait to see who among her co-workers had been selected for the honor.
On the night of Dec. 4, from the hallway opposite where Salvador was standing, a door opened and a new crowd began to enter the building.
“I saw all these people coming down the hall and I asked out loud who they were,” Salvador said.
A co-worker standing next to her replied simply, “Oh, those are the nominees.”
“The nominees?” Salvador exclaimed, squinting against the lights and trying to quickly count the number of heads moving toward the hospital lobby -- 5, 10, 20, maybe 30 people in all. “Those are a lot of nominees.”
Attendees in the entryway moved in front of the new crowd, blocking Salvador’s ability to see who all had made the final cut.
She managed to catch one familiar face, though it didn’t make any sense given the context.
“I saw my sister’s face,” Salvador said, laughing. “I thought, ‘what in the world is my sister doing here?’”
CVMC Director of Clinical Services Kathy Cocking grabbed the crowd’s attention and said, “Please join me in congratulating our first-ever DAISY Award honoree, Lori Salvador.”
And in an instant, it all became clear. The crowd of “nominees” were Salvador’s friends and family -- all of whom had managed to keep the secret until that moment.
“I was just really honored, so surprised,” Salvador said. “It was awesome. I love my job. I love taking care of people and this was so unexpected.”
Salvador became a registered nurse at the age of 40 after working as a paralegal for the 20 years prior.
“It was quite a change from not really coming into contact with people and working in a law office to what I do now,” she said. “Nursing was something I really wanted to do from the time my son was born three months premature.”
“When I was in the ICU with my son those nurses were so attentive and loving and kind. I knew I wanted to be able to impact people like that.”
Salvador graduated in 2000 and entered straight into the field of oncology in Reno. She joined the team at Carson Valley Medical Center in 2003.
“When I was in Reno, we were taking care of so many Douglas County residents at the time and I wondered why we didn’t have an infusion center down here. I asked about it and was told to put together a plan and that the board would take a look at it.”
Two years later, the infusion center opened with Salvador initially serving as the department’s lone nurse.
Over time, though, the department grew -- both in size and services offered.
“We do so much more than just cancer treatments,” she said. “We handle IV antibiotics and medications for rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. Every facet of medicine done through an IV, we do here.”
Last May, Salvador was treating a young patient with hydration therapy when the patient began to complain of “feeling strange.”
Salvador quickly checked her and realized the patient was having a critical cardiac episode. Salvador immediately called the emergency room to inform staff that she’d be bringing the patient in critical condition. She then placed the patient in a wheelchair and rushed her down the hall to the emergency department.
“(My daughter) was semi-conscious,” wrote the patient’s mother in the DAISY Award nomination some weeks later. “Lori stayed with me to make sure that my daughter was getting the proper attention before she went back to her department. She came back when she got off work and stayed with me until my daughter was put into a Care Flight helicopter.”
The patient, who had gone into septic shock, spent eight days at Renown before being released.
“I am convinced that if Lori had not acted so quickly and so efficiently that the outcome would have been much different,” wrote the patient’s mother. “The doctors said it was such a close call that if she had presented to the emergency room even a few minutes later, she might not have survived. Thank you, Lori Salvador, for being a great and skillful nurse.”
Both the patient and her mother were in attendance at the award ceremony to both thank and congratulate Salvador.
The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he died from complications of the auto-immune disease ITP in 1999. During his hospitalization, the family was struck by the care and compassion shown to Patrick and the entire family. In response, they started the foundation as a way to say “thank you” to nurses around the world in a public way.
For more information on the award, or to nominate nurses from Carson Valley Medical Center, visit www.cvmchospital.org/daisy.