MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – La’Wanda Bowers, a licensed practical nurse at VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, earned The DAISY Award for providing exceptional health care to a Veteran in Cookeville.
“I was just overwhelmed when I found out I received the award,” Bowers said. “A lot of my coworkers and managers were there to support me at the presentation. It was an emotional experience. I was crying, but I felt like I was floating all day because I felt good about the care I provided to my patient.”
On July 21, 2021, Bowers called her patient for an upcoming appointment when she noticed he was struggling to communicate.
“The gentleman was out of breath and sounded in distress, so I immediately asked him, ‘Sir, you don’t sound okay. How are you feeling?’” Bowers said. “That’s when he told me he was in bed for five days and wasn’t eating and breathing very well. I knew I needed to get him help right away.”
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Bowers, who was at the TVHS Murfreesboro campus, found a nearby hospital in Cookeville and called Cookeville’s 911 dispatch for assistance. However, the Veteran was adamant about not going to the hospital.
The Veteran explained to Bowers he didn’t want medical attention due to the possibility of medical bills and his sister was with him. She was sick, as well.
“I understood his concern and told him now wasn’t the time to worry about that [bills], and I’d help with that once he was admitted,” Bowers said.
From the time first responders arrived at the Veteran’s house to when he was admitted to the hospital, Bowers continuously contacted her patient and the local hospital staff to ensure he received the appropriate care.
The Veteran and his sister were both diagnosed with COVID-19.
The following day, Bowers called VA’s Community Care team to assist with any medical expenses. Community Care is a VA program that coordinates and can cover expenses for eligible Veterans to receive health care from providers in the local area.
Although the Veteran’s sister recovered, Bower’s patient died from COVID-19 on Aug. 2, 2021. Bowers said she was heart-broken but was glad she was able to save the sister’s life.
Bowers was nominated for The DAISY Award by her co-worker Melinda Perry, a registered nurse at TVHS.
“This is just one of the many wonderful things that La’Wanda does for our Veterans,” Perry said. “The interactions she has with Veterans is uplifting, cheerful and sincere. She shares her laugh and brightens Veterans’ days. She exuberates joy, kindness, and compassion to all those she meets. She truly is an asset to VA.”
To earn The DAISY Award, nurses are nominated by anyone – staff, patient, leadership, patients’ family members – who experiences or observes extraordinary compassionate care being provided by a nurse. To nominate an extraordinary nurse at TVHS, please visit www.daisynomination.org/TVHS.
About the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System
TVHS is an integrated tertiary health care system comprised of two hospitals, the Alvin C. York campus in Murfreesboro and the Nashville campus, as well as 19 community-based outpatient clinics located in Tennessee and Kentucky. TVHS provides ambulatory care, primary care, and secondary care in acute medicine and surgery, specialized tertiary care, transplant services, spinal cord injury outpatient care, and a full range of extended care and mental health services.