Congratulations to Our Latest DAISY Honoree, Nikole Kessler!

April 17, 2019


We are truly privileged to congratulate our most recent DAISY winner: Nikole Kessler, RN, of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at PH DuBois. Nikole cared for infant Faith Marie Spicher, who was born with Trisomy 18. Many babies born with this chromosomal condition do not live beyond their first few days or weeks of life. Faith, however, grew strong enough in the NICU that she was able to be discharged and go home with her parents. This week, Faith turned 3 months old. We are honored to share the beautiful words of Faith’s mother, Brandi, who describes the experience and how Nikole went above and beyond in caring for Faith during her time in the NICU.

“Faith Marie Spicher was born on Jan. 15, 2019. She was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, incompatible with life. We knew that Faith would be cared for at the NICU after she was born due to her diagnosis. What we didn’t know was how much she would be loved and cared for by the staff.

Faith was placed on a ventilator by Jan. 17, 2019, due to episodes of apnea, and had more wires, tubes and monitors than could be imagined. It was hard to deal with; it was difficult to see our baby going through so much. But what wasn’t difficult to see was the compassion and love she received from the nurses and also the huge impact that this small life had on them as well as us. We will never forget the NICU nurses and all the memories we had with them. They will always be a part of our family and we are forever grateful for them. 

Nikole Kessler cared for Faith through the best times and hardest times. She laughed with us, celebrated with us and even cried with us. She was able to look past all the wires and tubes and only saw Faith. You could see a connection growing between the two. She not only took care of Faith as a nurse, she cared for Faith as if she were her own. She wasn’t afraid of Faith’s condition, as a matter of fact she took it on as a challenge; Faith would beat the odds and be her “feisty spice.” She made sure that Faith received the best care and all the snuggles she could give. 

Nikole walked with us hand in hand through Faith’s entire journey in the NICU. On Jan. 19, 2019, Deryk and I had to make a heartbreaking decision to discontinue the ventilator. We couldn’t have our baby live on a vent for the rest of her days. Nikole stayed with us, even off duty, through that difficult time. She took a turn holding her and cried right with us as we thought Faith’s time here on Earth was over. Nikole even handmade a wooden plaque for this day, “Too Beautiful for Earth, Faith.” As the minutes turned to hours and Faith amazed us all with desire to live, breathing on her own, Nikole shared in our tears as they turned from heartache to tears of joy and hope. 

The following day, Nikole checked on Faith as soon as she came into the NICU to make sure she made it through the night. She kept us updated through her entire shift and shared in our joy and relief as she continued to report that Faith’s vitals were stable and she was not having any episodes of apnea. 

Nikole made sure we didn’t miss any special moments. She carried the camera in her pocket and was quick to capture every significant second – the first time we fed our baby through her og tube, her first outfit, first bath. She filled two photo books and ran the printer out of paper just so we had every memory of the beginning and, what we thought, would be the end of Faith’s life. 

Nikole continued to be there for Faith even on her days off of work. She made the trip into the hospital and spent hours with Faith just to hold her.

Finally, the day came when Deryk and I were able to take Faith home and Nikole was there to do her discharge. There wasn’t a dry eye in the NICU, especially Nikole’s. She even escorted Faith out of the hospital just so she could soak up every last moment with her. 

To this day, Nikole continues to be a part of Faith’s life, keeping up with her and all of her firsts and celebrating with us every time Faith defies the odds. Nikole is more than the NICU nurse that cared for our baby, she is part of our family and we know Nikole will forever be a part of her life as long as Faith is with us on this earth.”

Please join us in thanking Nikole. We are so proud of her heartfelt dedication to caring for our littlest patients!

Brandi additionally wrote very touching words about the other members of Faith’s NICU nursing team, and their neonatologist Dr. Hassan, as she said she wanted to “recognize each person that was there fighting for Faith, caring for her and most of all loving her!”

Dr. Mohamed Hassan
I also want to add to this what a wonderful person Dr. Hassan is. He treated Faith with such compassion but more than that, he gave us hope. If only you knew how much that word meant to us... We met Dr. Hassan previously to discuss our options regarding Faith's birth considering the options we had both with the Trisomy diagnosis and without. He was honest and compassionate. After her birth, he was a true advocate for Faith. No decision was made without an informed discussion. He made tireless efforts and phone calls to make sure he had all the facts. He deliberated over every option. He treated Faith as if she were his own, as he, too, is a father and that was how he lead her entire care plan. This doctor went above and beyond, traveled through snowstorms and took calls at all hours of the night. He was sorrowful when the day came to discontinue the vent, and he rejoiced with us as she defied the odds and continued to live. He would always remind us though that no matter what, Faith's journey on this Earth would be in both in her hands as well as God’s. He continues to keep tabs on our little miracle. I know God set him in our path to be a warrior for our Faith and fight he did and for that we will be eternally grateful. Thank you, Dr. Hassan! 

Renee Woodard
"Renee took part in caring for Faith. Even when she wasn’t Faith’s on-duty nurse, she continued to check in with us, make sure all of Faith’s needs were met and never declined a moment to hold her. Renee did more than just educate parents how to care for their baby, she spoke to us as a friend and supported us through what could have been some very scary moments. Deryk and I had to learn how to change Faith’s ng tube prior to taking her home and everything that could go wrong, went wrong. But Renee stayed calmed and made us feel calm as well as giving us the courage to keep trying rather than backing down and giving up. Renee would us make us feel comfortable and confident to be able to walk away and take a break while she held Faith and snuggled her so we knew Faith was never left alone. She felt our fears and provided support and words of advice as she too was a mom and knew full well the anxious thoughts that would go through our minds. She even took time to teach me how to use the baby wrap sling so I would be able to hold and protect my baby out in public with no worries. She shared in our moments of heartache, fear and joy. She cried both tears of sadness and happiness as the day came to take baby Faith home. She continues to care for her and follow up with her to this day and sincerely offered to come and help us at home if we ever needed it. Renee is a wonderful nurse but more than that she became a friend and a part of our family."

Autumn Nesbitt 
"Autumn was our nighttime nurse practitioner. She was there for Faith and us during our darkest hour in the NICU, the day the ventilator was discontinued. She made sure that we knew there was no rush and she would be there when we were ready. She was ever so patient and reassured us that Faith would feel no pain. She allowed our family to be together in what we thought would be Faith’s last moments of life. She also took care of the little things that meant so much to us. She made sure that not only was Faith being cared for but so were we and provided drinks and snacks so we wouldn’t have to leave Faith’s side that night. And when the time came and we couldn’t find the words she knew what had to be done. She very carefully and caringly disconnected the vent and the tubes. She made sure that our privacy was respected but also assured us that we weren’t alone. 
As we held Faith and waited to see what God had in store for us, Autumn also waited with us. She too shared in our tears and held her breath as we held ours in suspense of how the next few minutes or hours would play out. She would come into the room and assured us every hour that Faith did not have any episode of apnea and remained stable. 

She shared in our joy and celebrated with us as Faith amazed us all and showed us her will to live. 

Autumn took the time to answer many questions, advise us what we could do to care for Faith at home, and even shared with us her own personal story. She encouraged us to keep our heads up, be hopeful and don’t give up. She made us aware of how much Faith affected everyone in the NICU and the lesson that Faith taught all of us, tomorrow is not promised, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present."

Shelby Brennen
"Shelby was there the day Faith was born. She was very informative and kept us up to date with everything that was happening with Faith. After Faith was placed on the vent, she knew we were having a difficult time and wanted to do something special. So before we woke up Friday morning, her and the other nurses devised a plan to surprise us. They cleaned her up and put Faith in her first outfit! It was quite a surprise! Now my baby looked more like a newborn and less like the fragile patient in an incubator with tubes and wires. It was amazing how such a small act meant so much to us! 

A friend of ours also dropped off a picture for her, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” Shelby didn’t even hesitate; she knew exactly where to place the picture and it became Faith’s theme! Faith was known throughout the NICU as Feisty Spice! In that moment, Shelby made Faith’s room seem less like a hospital room and more like a nursery, more homey and comfortable. 

It seemed as though Shelby was meant to be there for Faith as she was being intubated. We found out later on that Shelby had been there for my family only three weeks prior when my brother, who was 27, was killed in a car accident on Dec. 29, 2018. We had heard that a nurse was on scene trying to help and called 911. It was Shelby. Not only was she there for my brother during a terrifying time, she was also there for Faith during hers. It’s like my brother had sent her to be with Faith." 

Ann Becquet
"Ann is another nurse practitioner that took special care of Faith. Ann was there when Faith began to have the episodes of apnea. She broke the news to us that Faith was having increased episodes of apnea on Jan. 16, 2019. She was very gentle as she explained Faith’s condition. 

As the night progressed and Faith’s condition worsened, Ann made sure to keep us updated throughout the night. Ann made multiple trips from the NICU over to maternity, updated us and then would rush back to NICU to be with Faith. What I admired about this was the fact that she took the time to do it herself, to go between the two units and personally tell us what was going on. She could have easily picked up the phone and called over to have the Maternity nurses tell us but she didn’t, that’s not her style. So all through the night at various hours, she made the trip to and from Maternity and NICU. The final trip was the saddest. She woke us up at 530 a.m. to let us know that Faith had further declined despite their best interventions and she had to placed on a ventilator. Ann stayed with us to make sure we understood and could grasp what she was telling us while also providing comfort to us as well. Ann is so kind and always made sure we had everything we needed and we understood what was happening with Faith. She made every accommodation she could for us and for our family and made sure we had every moment possible with Faith. She told us 'rules are meant to be broken and family is more important right now.'"

Rachel Johnson
"Rachel was one of our night nurses. Rachel had a very calming aura about her. During Faith’s stay at the NICU, we were up all day, no rest (even though we were told to), had a constant line of visitors, stressed out due to her earlier condition then dealt with a new stress when learning how to care for her afterwards. We would not leave Faith’s side and the ladies at the NICU knew it. We slept in her room holding on to every moment that God had graced us with. By the end of the day, we were exhausted. Faith was also receiving feedings through an ng tube and we were learning how to do it ourselves. Rachel was a part of the teaching experience. She gave both of us such confidence and helped us have the endurance to keep moving forward. As I said, we were exhausted by the end of the day but we would want to do the feedings throughout the night since we were with Faith anyway. Rachel would not allow this, “No get your rest now, I will do it through the night. That’s what I’m here for, please get some sleep.” 

Anytime I would wake up through the night, I would look up at Rachel and without having to ask she would just respond, “no episode, her vitals are stable, she is ok.” If only you knew how much those words would give me peace." 

Bridget Kramer
"Bridget was our patient care tech but with the heart of warmth of a nurse! She was a cheerleader for Faith from the very beginning , and I mean before Faith was born. We needed to come into the NICU prior to Faith’s birth for a consultation with Dr. Hassan and as the doors opened, there stood Bridget as a welcoming committee. She greeted us with such familiarity and warmth it was as if we already knew each other. 

Every day we spent in the NICU, Bridget would greet us and make sure to wish us a goodnight at the end of every shift. She would often offer to run to the store for us, get anything we needed or even just lend a listening ear. Faith had so many caring loving nurses, Bridgette was like our very own nurse, caring for us. 

She gave us words of wisdom from her own personal experience. 

Bridget was our cheerleader throughout the entirety of our NICU stay. She even handmade ribbons with Faith’s name for all of us, including the staff to wear.

She even kept a recording of Faith’s heart rate and placed it in a lab tube with her name on that as well. She handed one for us as well as each set of grandparents. She is thoughtful, kind considerate and is passionate about her job and creates beautiful gifts for her patients that shows it. She is also passionate about her other work, a wife, mother, an EMT and volunteer fire fighter. During our last week, she had been up all night assisting another fire department during a structure fire and still came in to work her shift at the NICU from 6-2:30. The reason? All because she didn’t want to miss a day with Faith." 

Cindy Ireland 
"Cindy was our social worker. I don’t think she gets enough credit or told how much she is appreciated. This women worked so hard to get us everything that Faith needed and kept us updated every day with what was going on and how she was going to proceed and follow up with the different medical supply companies and insurance companies, plus coordinating efforts with the benefits office/Human Resources and me. Since I wasn’t home but I wasn’t admitted as a patient, Cindy found ways for paperwork and forms to be filled out that were convenient for me so I never had to leave Faith’s side. She always found the answers to our questions and was an excellent advocate for Faith and what she needed. She reached out to many resources in my area to find the right ones that would benefit Faith the most. She is amazing at what she does and a warrior for Faith." 

Elayna Oaks
"Elayna made such an impression on us with her intelligence and her very caring attitude. She spent a lot of time with us during her shift to prepare us for the upcoming discharge. She provided words of encouragement and advice. She even made a special trip on her off day to bring in a baby sling so I could hold my Faith close." 

About our DAISY Award Program

The DAISY Award is an international recognition program that honors and celebrates the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide patients and families every day. The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he passed away at the age of 33 from complications of the auto-immune disease Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

DAISY nomination ballots are included in patient discharge packets or with other patient information. Anyone – patients, patient family members, physicians and employees – may thank a deserving nurse by filling out this form and dropping it in the DAISY collection box located by the elevators throughout each hospital or by sending it via mail or email.

All nominations are then reviewed by the DAISY Award Committee. Winners from each hospital are chosen by the committee. Awards are presented monthly at PH DuBois and quarterly at PH Brookville, PH Clearfield and PH Elk.

Each DAISY Award honoree is recognized at a public ceremony on his/her unit and receives: a beautiful certificate, a DAISY Award pin and a hand-carved stone sculpture entitled A Healer’s Touch. In addition, everyone on the unit celebrates with cinnamon rolls – a favorite of Patrick’s during his illness. The Barnes family asks that whenever and wherever nurses smell that wonderful cinnamon aroma, they stop and think about how special they are.