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DAISY Award Winners

Read the stories of UHS nurses and learn why they were selected to receive a DAISY Award. The DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem) Award is an international recognition program that celebrates the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide every day.

Our latest recipient:

January: Jola Scheepsma, RN, Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

TThe PACU nurse was nominated by a co-worker. In the nomination letter, her co-worker spoke about how Jola's advocacy for a patient helped save their life and got them the treatment needed. Jola's co-worker spoke about a situation on their unit when they received a patient after surgery but the patient was dealing with low blood pressure and some other issues. Due to Jola's quick actions and advocating for the patient, she was able to get the patient a second opinion and the treatment necessary to fix the problem and stabilize the patient.   Read more here.

2023 Recipients

December: Margaret Heath, BSN, RN, Krembs 5

The Krembs 5 nurse was nominated by a patient she cared for. In the nomination letter, the patient spoke about how she had received electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for many years, but in those years had never met a more kind, compassionate and caring person as Margaret. The patient went on to talk about how Margaret helped her through the darkest times, and was always pleasant and willing to step in and pick up the pieces when the team needed extra help. The patient  spoke about how Margaret is a great listener and always takes time to listen no matter how busy she is.  Read more here.

November: Stephie Safari, BSN, UHS Neuro Step Down Suite

The Neuro Step Down Unit nurse was nominated by colleague Natalie Keefer. In her nomination letter, Natalie spoke about how Stephie shows compassion to every single patient she encounters. She went on to talk about the respect Stephie shows consistently to both co-workers and patients and how she handles every situation with a calm demeanor. She also talks about how willing Stephie is to help others and to guide and teach them to make them better caregivers.  Read more here.

October: Casey Joy, RN, North Tower 5/Maternity at UHS Wilson Medical Center

The Maternity nurse was nominated by the grandmother of a patient she helped and cared for. In her nomination letter, she spoke about how Casey went above and beyond the call of duty in helping her daughter with her newborn baby. The baby was struggling with his feeding and sleeping routine and his mother wasn't sure how to balance his needs with her own. Casey solved the problem by coaching the new mom and providing extra care for the newborn, which helped mom rest and regain perspective.  Read more here.

September: Julia Amell, BSN, Unit Coordinator, South Tower 4 at UHS Wilson Medical Center

The South Tower 4 nurse was nominated by colleague Kayla Prosinski. In her nomination letter, Kayla spoke about how Julia exemplifies every UHS value day in and day out. She spoke about how Julia stays present, and goes above and beyond for her staff, patients and family. She describes Julia as a smiling face when that is needed most.  As South Tower 4 unit coordinator, Julia makes the environment one for staff and patients to enjoy. Kayla goes on to mention how Julia goes out of her way to prioritize her unit. even being willing to put her office work aside at any moment to assist with patient care or simply be there for someone no matter if they have been on staff for a day or years. Read more here.

August: Gwen Wheeler, BSN, RN, UHS Wilson Medical Center Emergency Department

The Emergency Department nurse received nine nominations by different colleagues. In the nomination letters, her colleagues spoke about the incredible way she cares for patients, always going above and beyond for them. The letters go on to talk about Gwen's unique ability to do both intense, effective, and immediate interventions while sustaining a gentle tone, a compassionate demeanor, and a loving touch. Despite dealing with less than ideal situations, Gwen never raises her voice, loses her patience, or asks someone to perform a task she wouldn't do herself.  Read more here.

July: Kaitlyn Koban, BSN, RN, UHS Binghamton General Hospital Memorial 3

The Memorial 3 nurse received two nominations by family members of a patient in her care. In the first letter, the family spoke about Kaitlyn's empathetic, responsive and thoughtful care at every moment of their family member's stay. The letter went on to speak of her exemplary communication skills to her patient and their family and how she related directly and carefully to her patient, easing their fears. Her nominations came from before and after her patient was transferred to the ICU. The second letter praised Kaitlyn's ability to understand the patient's illness - and the excruciating pain, that come with the illness. She went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that pain was minimal and came up with different solutions to avoid more painful measures.  Read more here.

June: Kailey Huff, RN, UHS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The NICU nurse was nominated by family members of twins that were in her care. In their nomination letter, the family spoke about the hard labor and delivery they went through, being emotional wrecks because their babies were heading to the NICU and how Kailey's kindness and compassion made the situation so much easier. Each time the family visited the NICU, she explained everything and always tried to put their minds at ease.  Read more here.

May: Julie Kotasek, RN, and Deborah Bell, RN, UHS Binghamton Employee Health Office

The Employee Health Office nurses were nominated by colleague Jackie Rice. In her nomination letter, Jackie spoke about the compassion these two displayed for an elderly couple in need. When leaving the office one evening, Julie and Debbie came upon the couple, who were sitting in the building lobby and looking very distraught.  They overheard the couple talking about having an issue getting a ride home, so they stopped and offered to help. After being unable to get a taxi, the nurses used the Uber app to arrange a ride.  They even paid for the ride, as it wasn’t the couple’s fault that their appointment had run late.  Both Debbie and Julie waited until the Uber arrived and asked the driver to make sure the patients got safely into their house. Read more here.

March: Leighann Hiser, BSN, UHS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The NICU nurse was nominated by family members of infants that she cared for. In the nomination letter, the family spoke about how Leighann displayed all of UHS' Values (Compassion, Trust, Respect, Teamwork and Innovation). She was a constant presence for the family and made them feel safe in a scary time for them. The family spoke about how Leighann answered all their questions and always tried to help. They also witnessed her being an exceptional teammate. And while they were grateful for the whole NICU Unit, they truly felt Leighann went above and beyond for their babies. Read more here.

February: Katelyn Allabaugh, RN, UHS Binghamton General Hospital Emergency Department

The Emergency Department nurse was nominated by a colleague, Andy. In his nomination letter, he spoke about how Katelyn went above and beyond when the ED was very busy and her shift was ending. When a challenging situation arose with a patient Katelyn had gained the trust of in the past, instead of going home, Katelyn chose to stay and help out. Katelyn spoke incredibly kindly to the patient and was instrumental in getting the patient to explain her feelings, and, most importantly, Katelyn was able to leverage the trust the patient had in her to get the patient into a safe environment. She did all of this well past the end of her scheduled shift, when it would have been much easier for her to go home and say “not my problem.” Read more here.

January: Philip Nedlik, MSN, FNP-C, RN, UHS Newark Valley Primary Care

The primary care nurse was nominated by the mother of children Philip cares for. In her nomination letter, the mother talks about the exemplary and compassionate care he gives to their family and how he listens to, and addresses, their concerns, earning their trust completely. She goes on to talk about a recent experience in which her daughter was not happy about being at a doctor’s office, but Philip came in with a smile, got down to her level and talked with her. Philip left the mother speechless as he got her daughter to calm down by talking to her. He was able to perform his checks, including looking at her throat and in her ears. The genuine finesse and calm attitude he had truly was exemplary. Read more here.

2022 Recipients

Meghan Frye, RN, UHS Hospitals Birthing Center

The Birthing Center nurse was nominated by Kailey Huff, RN, a colleague. In her nomination letter, Kailey spoke about a patient on Labor and Delivery whom Meghan went above and beyond for. The patient had been admitted for close to a month due to medical needs and monitoring of the unborn baby. On the day of delivery, the mother did not have any support people with her, so Meghan sat down with the mother and held her hand through the delivery. Meghan provided encouraging words to help keep her calm and after the baby was born, Meghan took photos of the baby on the mother’s phone, before the baby went to the NICU. Read more here.

Samantha Johnson, RN, South Tower 5

The South Tower 5 nurse was nominated by a colleague. In the nomination letter, Sam's colleague spoke about how she goes out of her way to support and help the staff on the unit and to provide excellent care. She is described as cheerful and always the first one willing to lend a hand. The nomination letter went on to tell a story about Sam's compassion for her patients. In the story, Sam had a patient that was in the hospital for a couple of months and was getting to be down about it. She went out of her way to cheer her patient up by giving him a fun wheelchair ride and bringing in a watercolor paint set for him to paint with. Read more here.

Jessica Binkewicz, BSN, RN, North Tower 2

The North Tower 2 nurse was nominated by the niece of a patient Jessica cared for. In her nomination letter, the niece spoke about how despite clearly being busy at all times, Jessica never seemed bothered, and displayed some of the best hospitality she had ever seen. No matter the situation, Jessica never swayed, and was only extremely respectful and professional. When the patient was acting in a concerning matter, Jessica was extremely quick to respond and immediately performed tests and checked to make sure nothing was wrong. She communicated with the niece in a reassuring manner without ever worrying her aunt. Read more here.

Sara Ferrara, BSN, RN, North Tower 4 

The North Tower 4 nurse was nominated by family members of  a patient she cared for. In their nomination letter, the family members spoke about how Sara treated their loved one with the utmost professionalism, and were appreciative of how she integrated their family into their recovery. The patient had several comorbidities and her transfer to UHS Senior Living at Ideal was delayed by recurring renal calculi. Sara was able to maintain her skin integrity and trouble-shoot ways to motivate the patient to get out of bed and ambulate. Read more here.

Jillian Hintze, RN, UHS Podiatry

The UHS Podiatry nurse was nominated by a colleague, Susan Keehle. In her nomination letter, Susan spoke about Jillian's positive attitude and ability to adapt quickly. After joining the UHS Podiatry team in April of 2022, Jillian shortly learned that the current RN and other clinical staff would be transitioning out of the office. Staying positive, she took every opportunity to learn as much as she could in the short time she would have with the seasoned podiatry staff. Read more here.

Michelle Brunschmid, RN, South Tower 3

The South Tower 3 nurse was nominated by a patient, Tonee Carman. In her nomination letter, Tonee spoke about how Michelle went above and beyond her job title, making sure that her long stay was as good as it could be. She credits Michelle for putting up with her when she was in serious pain and always trying new things to help make changing Tonee's bandages easier and less painful. Tonee went on to say that Michelle not only did an "over-the-top job" but also made her feel more like a friend than just another patient. Read more here.


Joshua Barahona, LPN, UHS Primary Care Sidney

The UHS Primary Care nurse was nominated by a patient's mom. In her nomination letter, the mother spoke about her 18yr old son who was going through a very difficult time mentally and emotionally. Her son went to CPEP and had many follow up appointments. At one of his follow ups with Rohan Jayasena, MD, he met Josh, who is Dr. Jayasena's nurse. Josh showed great compassion and respect for her son and what he was experiencing. Josh even reached out and offered to take her son hiking to help him find something healthy to focus on. Read more here.


Susan Brissette, LPN, UHS Primary Care Norwich

The UHS Primary Care nurse was nominated by Chris Steiber, a patient's son. In his nomination letter, Chris spoke about his 93-year-old mother taking a turn for the worse and needing hospice care. After the first hospice referral was not received, Chris connected with Susan. They were heading into a long holiday weekend and did not want to delay his mother's admittance to hospice. Susan, after speaking with Chris, did a follow-up and confirmed the first referral being sent, and then to be safe, requested a second send of the referral. That action, according to Chris, allowed for his mother to be put under hospice care on Friday, instead of what he thought would likely have been the following Tuesday. Read more here.


Rachel Fritzsch, RN, South Tower 4

The UHS Wilson Medical Center South Tower 4 nurse was nominated by Emily Bulman, the daughter of a patient Rachel cared for through the end of his life. In her nomination letter, Emily spoke about her father's hospital stay being some of the hardest, most pain-filled days of  their lives and how Rachel helped them get through it with her calm communication style, empathy, impeccable attention to detail and problem-solving skills. Her father felt comfortable under Rachel's care and even admitted on an occasion that she was his "go-to person on the floor", even joking that ‘she was his boss’. Read more here.

Erin Perry, BSN, RN, NICU

The UHS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse was nominated by Prema and Chris Streno, the parents of a baby she had cared for. In their nomination letter, Prima and Chris spoke about Erin being a bright light for them during the nightmare that was having a child in the NICU. They found Erin to be genuine and her presence around their son provided an atmosphere of positivity, giving them much needed confidence in the care that their baby boy was receiving. They always felt heard by Erin and secure knowing that she was watching over their son. Read more here.


North Tower 4 at UHS Wilson Medical Center (Team Award)

NT4 has persevered during extremely difficult times and has done so by living the Values of UHS and the standards of the DAISY Awards program.  Nominated by Stephanie Jester, RN, director of Nursing at UHS Wilson, the team has made a lasting impression by how the members have never wavered from living the five Values:  Compassion, Trust, Respect, Teamwork and Innovation. Read more here.


Caroline Nielands, MAT, RN, WOCRN, UHSH Wound Ostomy Continence

The UHS wound, ostomy and continence nurse was nominated by the son of a patient Caroline had cared for. In his nomination letter, he spoke about how Caroline provided home care for his father, where her passion for her work was on full display. The nomination said that Caroline not only worked with his dad but she also was dedicated to helping his mom by praying and coaching her on how to help his dad. The family has kept in touch with Caroline to this day and when his mom recently fell and had a very bad wound on her right knee, Caroline took care of her. Read more here.

Terry Harding, NP, UHS Occupational Medicine

The UHS nurse practitioner was nominated by co-worker, Kimberly Durkee, BSN, RN, CCM, after Terry responded quickly, correctly and sensitively to an incident in which an employee experienced an on-the-job injury in a high-risk situation. 

Terry talked with the employee by phone in a compassionate tone of voice, reassured her and encouraged her to report to Employee Health.  Even though it was at the end of the day, Terry saw the employee and coordinated additional care for her with two medical specialists.  Terry stayed on the job until she completely followed up with the care of the employee.  Said Kimberly: “Terry provided reassurance, trust and compassionate care during a difficult situation.” Read more here.

2021 Recipients

Paula Covert, BSN, RN, UHS Primary Care Endwell

Paula, the nursing team Leader at UHS Primary Care Endwell was nominated by the mother of a patient she cared for. The patient, Colleen, had fainted while getting a flu shot the year prior. Coming in for her shot the following year, Colleen was very nervous and this is when she met Paula and told her about her concerns and fear. Paula was very compassionate and understanding, explaining to Colleen that this is common, and she does not need to feel embarrassed or afraid. She had Colleen lay on the table before giving her the flu shot, had juice bags and candy ready and talked to her the entire time to distract Colleen while she gave it. Read more here.


Nancy Kirchner, BSN, RN, CWOCN, UHSH Wound Ostomy Continence

Nancy, a UHS Hospitals wound ostomy continence nurse, was nominated by the wife of a patient she cared for. The patient, Jon, was in the hospital for more than three months (December 2020- March 2021) and unfortunately developed a pressure injury during his stay. The Wound Ostomy Continence (WOC) Team was involved in Jon's care throughout his stay in the ICU and then Krembs 4 at UHS Binghamton General Hospital.  The entire team was excellent and the patient's wife wanted to personally recognize Nancy for being compassionate, collaborative, and including her in Jon's care. Read more here.

Isaiah Buchanan, RN, CVICU

Isaiah was nominated by the family member of a patient he helped care for. According to the nomination, Isaiah was there with their family during one of the most difficult times that they had experienced. Their mother was very ill and Isaiah took such wonderful care of her during her last moments. He had a feeling that their mother wasn't doing well and called her children to ensure that their family was present when she passed. Isaiah truly listened to what they had to say and went to bat for them. He helped to ensure that their mom was comfortable and without pain during her final moments. Read more here.


Allison Hores, RN, Nurse Manager, NICU

Allison was nominated by her colleague Tanya, who was impressed with Allison after she took over as nurse manager of the NICU at the beginning of the pandemic. Tanya cited how trustworthy Allison is and how smoothly the floor runs under her guidance. She mentioned that Allison never hesitates to jump in and help when needed. Tanya also spoke about Allison's positive impact on her life, as she was her preceptor a few years back and never made her feel "less than," and encouraged all her questions! She even makes time to connect on a personal level by following up and asking about family. Read more here.


Rebecca Davis, RN, and Tiffany Kemak, RN, Birthing Center, UHS Wilson Medical Center

Rebecca and Tiffany were recognized and presented with the award, and enjoyed cinnamon rolls, a symbolic treat in memory of the late J. Patrick Barnes, the patient whose experience inspired the bestowing of the awards on nurses across the country.

Rebecca and Tiffany were nominated by a colleague, Emily Dorval, RN, director of Nursing Cardiovascular Services at UHS, based on a letter Emily received from a physician commending the two nurses on their approach to caring for a patient. Read more here.


Amber Donahue, RN, CVICU, UHS Wilson Medical Center

Amber was nominated by a patient she cared for in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. After a few syncope fainting spells, Gary Beattie arrived by ambulance to UHS Wilson Medical Center's Emergency Department for a temporary pacemaker. While awaiting his procedure, Gary's heart stopped for 10 seconds and Amber came racing in and applied CPR to save Gary. His heart started again quickly and then Amber immediately phoned the Response Team for him. Read more here.


Dawn Rishel, RN, North Tower 3, UHS Wilson Medical Center

Dawn was nominated by the daughter of a patient Dawn took care of. According to the caretaker, Michele Georgoudes, Dawn was always there for her and working diligently to help her mother stay as comfortable as possible, while also explaining to her the issues and ramifications of her mother’s procedures. Dawn was kind and patient, and answered all her questions, putting her at ease during a difficult time when Michele couldn't always be there physically. Read more here.