Nursing is a demanding profession during the best of times, but 2020 at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital has tested the limits – closing an old hospital, moving into and adjusting to a new hospital, evacuating during wildfires that destroyed nearby neighborhoods, and dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Despite these challenges, clinic and hospital nursing staff continued to shine, as evidenced by the 33 DAISY Award nominations naming 25 staff members. From these many nominations, Stacey Mello-Galloway, RN, was named the 2020 DAISY Award recipient.
As a charge nurse in the hospital’s Emergency Department, Mello-Galloway has worked at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital for nine years, but her path into a nursing career took some detours.
In her younger years, she was a single teen mom who didn’t finish high school. Wanting to set a good example for her daughter, Stacey studied and earned her GED diploma and went back to her ordinary job. But a college counselor who worked with her during these studies recognized her caring and unselfish character and pushed her to do more with her potential. Following Stacey from job to job over the next several years – yes, years – the counselor kept asking her, “What is your plan? Are you going to keep doing this?”, convinced that she would be perfectly suited to a career in nursing.
“My thought was I can’t do that kind of education. I can’t be a nurse. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” Mello-Galloway said. Conquering her fears and self-doubt, she began nursing school in her late 20s and had an epiphany: “As soon as I started doing the clinicals (hands-on skills training), I was like, ‘What was I waiting for? This is what I’ve been waiting to do!”
During the DAISY Award celebration, which was held virtually last month, the hospital’s executive leaders praised all the nurses who were nominated.
“To see that long list of nominations and to know how many people were recognized for the extraordinary care that you all give, it’s just truly inspirational,” said Virginia Riffle, chief operating officer. “I have had the pleasure of reading the nominations and I have to say it brings tears to my eyes. These nominations came from patients, from family members, loved ones and from fellow employees, and they each tell beautiful stories.
“You have been providing this amazing care during extraordinary times,” Riffle continued. “The pandemic has caused visitor restrictions which means you mean so much more to these patients and their loved ones. When they come here alone you make them feel they are not alone. You help them through that difficult and frightening time.”
Mello-Galloway was nominated by her colleagues who wrote in part: “Whenever I see her bright and cheery face walk in, I know with confidence that no matter what comes through those ER doors, that everything will be OK. I have never met a nurse as extraordinary as Stacey. Her skill level is fantastic, but most of all she is the kindest, most compassionate person. You can feel the love for patients and staff pour out the room the second she enters it. She has the patience of an angel. Thank you, Stacey Mello-Galloway, for being the beautiful person that you are and for being such a superb nurse.”
Mello-Galloway received a DAISY pin, award certificate, a copy of the book, “Shining the Light on All the Right,” and a hand-carved stone sculpture entitled “A Healer’s Touch.” Along with the public recognition, DAISY award winners also receive financial discounts for nursing certification training; reduced tuition for continued education; conference scholarship opportunities; and are eligible for a national DAISY Award for extraordinary nurses.
The DAISY Award was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes to “honor the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day wherever they practice, in whatever role they serve and throughout their careers, from student through a lifetime of achievement.” To learn more, visit daisyfoundation.org.