St. Anthony Hospital medical-surgical unit charge nurse Brandy Kelly, RN, was recently the first nurse in the SSM Healthcare System honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

Kelly first SSM Healthcare System employee honored with extraordinary nurse DAISY Award

by Traci Chapman – Writer/Photographer

While Brandy Kelly always knew she wanted to follow a path of service and care, little did the longtime St. Anthony’s charge nurse know that choice was making the kind of difference it was to those around her.
That was, until Kelly was awarded St. Anthony Hospital’s first-ever DAISY Award, in recognition for her extraordinary patient care and exceptional team spirit in everything she does.
Kelly’s patients commended not only her skills, but also how she took extra time to make sure they understood explanations on procedures and medications – in the process making them feel completely safe in the naturally frightening environment of the medical-surgical unit.
The DAISY certificate, presented with a scripture entitled, “A Healer’s Touch” and hand-carved by artists with Africa’s Shona Tribe, stated, “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.”
For her part, Kelly was completely surprised when presented the DAISY Award, made more significant, officials said, because she was the first nurse in the SSM Health 40,000-employee system to be recognized by the nonprofit foundation that bestows it.
“I was so honored to receive this award – it was so nice to see recognition for nurses because I see, every day, just how much all they do and what a difference they make,” Kelly said.
For Kelly, who always knew she wanted to serve the community, choosing nursing was easy – although initially, she did have a few doubts, she said.
“I honestly was not sure if I would be able to handle all of the blood and bodily fluids that came along with the job,” she said. “So, I decided to get my LPN first – I started nursing school and fell in love.”
That was when she was 21 years’ old; obtaining her RN in 2004, the now 45-year-old said she could never envision doing anything else.
“I knew then that it was my calling,” Kelly said.
That calling brought Kelly to St. Anthony about eight years ago, she said. Working at the hospital has been a dream position – from dealing with the nursing administrative team to the mentors who encouraged her every step of the way, she said.
“I think they’ve done an awesome job leading this hospital in the evolving health care field that we live in today with the many challenges we face,” Kelly said. “I have the pleasure of working with some of the best people and nurses I know – we are truly a family, we laugh together, cry together, hold each other accountable and encourage success, both personally and professionally.”
That accountability is in part achieved through SSM’s unit-based councils, teams that work to solve problems among staff and provide guidance and solutions to everything from care plans to new procedure challenges. Kelly leads the medical-surgical unit council, which includes 27 nurses and numerous support staff; she also achieved designation as “super user” of the facility’s EPIC electronic health care record system, assisting both new and established personnel in navigating it.
“In a unit where you have people in both day and night shift – who don’t always see each other that regularly – it’s important for us to coordinate with and help each other,” Kelly said. “That’s one of the examples of how amazing the mission at our hospital is – from the leadership to each individual unit and employee.”
That outlook exemplified the reason for Kelly’s selection for the DAISY Award, administrators said – while the charge nurse herself spoke instead about the inspiration fostered by the award itself and the story behind it.
The award, implemented by the foundation of the same name, came about after the 1999 death of 33-year-old Patrick Barnes. A two-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, in late 1999, Barnes was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, or IDP – just two months after he and his wife had their first child.
His father, Mark Barnes, started DAISY Foundation, after witnessing not only the expected excellent health care given his son during his hospitalization, but also the compassion and kindness exhibited on a daily basis – even when Patrick was unconscious and they didn’t realize anyone was watching, he said.
“They truly helped us through the darkest hours of our lives and they gave us hope – and, even though Pat ultimately didn’t survive, we have hope to that day because of all those nurses did during that time,” Barnes said.
With Patrick’s wife, Tena, the family developed the nonprofit, California-based DAISY, named for “diseases attacking the immune system,” and quickly worked to set up a recognition program for nurses everywhere who go above and beyond.
Thus, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was born, Barnes said.
“We wanted to develop a partnership with health care organizations to recognize not just clinical skill, but especially the compassion, kindness and dedication nurses provide to both patients and their families,” he said.
Today, more than 3,000 health care facilities and nursing schools across the United States and internationally take part in the DAISY Award program, Barnes said.
SSM Health, a Catholic not-for-profit health system headquartered in St. Louis, includes 24 hospitals, hundreds of physician’s offices and a host of other services – ranging from hospice, home and outpatient care and post-acute facilities to an accountable care organization, as well as technology and insurance companies. In Oklahoma, St. Anthony Hospital, located in midtown Oklahoma and founded in 1898, is the centerpiece of a network including Bone and Joint Hospital of St. Anthony; St. Anthony North and South; St. Anthony Healthplexes located in Mustang, north, south and east Oklahoma City; St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital; and St. Anthony Physicians Group.
The SSM Health system also includes 17 rural hospitals in locations ranging from Shattuck, Holdenville and Weatherford to Enid, Lawton and Purcell.
For more information about the DAISY Award – which also sponsors separate recognition for both nursing faculty and students – and submitting nominations for the honor see the foundation’s website, located at

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