MADISON COUNTY − Karen Sare has been in nursing for about 47 years and this year was given the first every DAISY Award at Madison Memorial Hospital (MMH).

Sare was taken by surprise last Thursday when Kevin McEwan, the Chief Nursing Officer, announced that she would be receiving the award.

“Over the last four weeks nominations have poured in, families, patients, and peers that have recognized nurses that have gone above and beyond,” McEwan said Thursday. “And I was anxious because I wanted this first award to go to a nurse that really embodied what a nurse at Madison Memorial hospital is. And when we got the nomination for Karen Sare it was overwhelming.”

At his words, all in attendance rushed to applaud the obviously stunned nurse.

“And we went through our process of saying ‘was she worthy?’ It was pretty obvious,” McEwan continued. “We checked off all of the things that Karen does for our patients, for their family members, for our staff and in every department of the hospital, it exceeded what we had set out as ‘somebody who should receive the DAISY Award.’ So on behalf of Madison Memorial Hospital and us nurses, Karen we make you our first DAISY nurse.”

After McEwan made the announcement, a nomination letter for Sare was read.

“Karen has been a nurse for 50-plus years and many of them have been spent at Madison. She has literally touched thousands of lives,” the nomination letter read. “She is the most wonderful house supervisor at Madison plus she still manages to work shifts in the ER. I’ve seen her comfort patients and explain things to nurses all of which she does with patients and making sure whoever she is talking to understands and knows that they’re being cared for. She is always willing to help wherever she can. I think that giving the first DAISY Award to someone who has given so much to Madison and to someone who has helped in all departments for many years would be such a good idea. Over all her years she’s gotten to personally know nurses in each department and share her knowledge with so many nurses. It would be so cool to give back to her in a way that goes above just a ‘thank you’ and present her with an award that acknowledges the outstanding nursing skills with hundreds of nurses and thousands of patients. I really couldn’t think of a better nurse.”

Sera did have some family in attendance, including her in-laws Dave and Barbara Hansen as well as her sister, Kathy Sare. Barbara Hansen said that they were given notice on Monday of that week and contacted additional family to let them know but due to distance, they couldn’t make it. Karen Sare’s son married the Hansen’s daughter and they have four grandchildren. Barbara Hansen said that Sera’s family lives in California, Kansas, and Montana.

“This was a total surprise,” Karen Sera said. “I had no idea because I haven’t been doing a lot of hands-on patient care because I’ve been in the house supervisor position for I don’t know how many years, I don’t keep track. But I enjoy my job because I get to meet with the nurses, I get to troubleshoot patient care. It’s… it’s been my life.”

When asked how she felt signing her name, the first name ever, on the DAISY banner, she said it was “Kind of weird because I can’t believe I’m the first one, it’s pretty exciting,” Sera said.

When asked how she felt to have her in-laws and sister there with her, she said it was wonderful.

“Oh that’s really made it wonderful. It just makes me feel like they’ve been involved in my life a lot,” Sera said. “So to have them here to share that has been very important to me because my immediate family, my son, can’t be here because of the distance so to have family and friends it’s awesome.”

The DAISY Award was given to Sera during nurse week which began on May 6 and ended on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale is a famous nurse, born in 1820, was a “British nurse, statistician, and social reformer who was the foundational philosopher of modern nursing,” according to the Britannica encyclopedia website. This year would be her 199th birthday.

According to the DAISY Foundation website, DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. It was founded in 1999 in memory of J. Patrick Barnes.

“In late 1999, our Patrick developed the auto-immune disease Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP),” the website read. “He spent eight weeks in the hospital with virtually no platelets, receiving every line of treatment then available to him and the best care possible. Tragically, he died at 33 years old, leaving a huge hole in our hearts and a strong desire to do something to help keep his wonderful spirit alive.”

The Barnes family wanted to give back to the nursing community who had helped Barnes in his time of need and has done so in 22 countries around the world including Lebanon, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, China, Ireland, Italy and many others.

Those who win a DAISY award receive a pin, certificate, and a “The Healer’s Touch” sculpture. These small sculptures are handcrafted in Zimbabwe by Shona artists and money provided by hospitals to pay for these sculptures helps the artists and their families.

Rachel Gonzales, CEO of MMH, said that seeing the nurses at Madison Memorial Hospital succeeding and continuing to grow reminded her of the great care that nurses have been giving her own son.