Awards and Achievements

Methodist Hospital Cardiac Nurse Andrea Thomas Honored With The DAISY Award

Published: May 16, 2022
Stemm Couple

Richard "Dick" Stemm, a 74-year-old retired physician, was admitted to Methodist Hospital in December for atrial fibrillation and other heart issues. But cardiac nurse Andrea Thomas, BSN, RN, knew that his dementia needed to be addressed first.  

“He kept saying things like, ‘I’m leaving. I appreciate the interest, but I don’t want the job. You’ll have to find someone else,’” Thomas recalled. “With his medical background, I could tell he recognized he was in a hospital setting, but it was like he thought he was there for a job interview.”

“It was the first time any of us had really seen the dementia taking place in such an outward exhibition,” said Kathryn Stemm, Dick’s wife of 20 years.

Dick’s medical knowledge gave Thomas an idea. She showed her patient his “extremely elevated” heart rate.

“I said, ‘This seems really high to me, but what do you think?’ And he would say, ‘Oh, yes. That’s way too high. That needs to come down immediately.’ So I looked at him in the eyes and said, ‘Hey, I agree. And that’s your heart rate. That’s why you’re here. We need to get your heart rate down. What do you say we sit down and try to work on that?’”

Dick’s relentless efforts to leave his room suddenly ceased. He became calm and compliant.

Andrea Thomas, BSN, RN

“It was truly amazing,” Kathryn said. “Her calm manner and the skills she used somehow soothed him enough to where he settled down."

When Kathryn learned of The DAISY Award, a national honor that recognizes extraordinary nurses, she said it only made sense to nominate “a true godsend.”

“There are so many nurses here that deserve this award,” Thomas said. “Because there are so many nurses here that constantly put themselves in their patients’ shoes. In that moment, my patient needed medical care. But he also needed something else. He needed someone to talk to. And I think that’s what The Meaning of Care is – looking at the patient as a whole person and addressing all their needs, not just the medical ones.”

Thomas, a Nebraska Methodist College nursing graduate, is now pursuing an advanced degree. The Arizona native is set to become a nurse practitioner with Methodist’s cardiothoracic surgery program in August.

Read the rest of Thomas' story in the Methodist Newsroom.