St. Joseph's/Candler DAISY Award winners

We'd like to congratulate all our DAISY Award winners. The DAISY award recognizes nurses nominated by patients or family members for going above and beyond to provide high-quality care. Winners will receive a certificate, statue (made in Zimbabwe), gift bag and Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for everyone on the floor.

Click here to learn more about The DAISY Award and to nominate a nurse.

Christopher Southerland

Congratulations to Chris Southerland, a nurse on the Intensive Care Unit at Candler Hospital. Still early in his career, Chris is already making a big impact on his patients and his co-workers. He was nominated by the parents of a patient he took care of earlier this year. Here's the winning nomination: 

"My husband and I met Chris when our son was hospitalized at Candler from January 11 - 19, 2024. Chris worked with our son during the night shift, a few nights before he passed away on January 19, 2024. During the last days of our son's life, we spent our every waking moment with him. Spending the nights in his room. Nurse Chris helped us to adjust to our son's end of life, by lending a caring ear, always asking us what we needed, and saying "thank you" to everyone who entered our son's room. No matter what time of the night it was, he always listened to me and my husband, providing us with whatever was available on the ICU floor. During our last night with our son, he listened to our stories about our son. We will never forget how much Chris helped us during our critical time of need."

Congratulations Chris and keep up the good work!

Karen Da Silva

Congratulations to Karen Da Silva, our latest DAISY-award winning nurse. Karen works in labor and delivery in the Telfair BirthPlace, part of the Mary Telfair Women's Hospital at St. Joseph's/Candler. She was nominated for the DAISY by a patient who went through an unimaginable loss and was grateful to have Karen as her caregiver throughout it all. The nomination read:

"We experienced a devastating loss and had to be induced to deliver our stillborn daughter. Karen provided extraordinary care, explaining things every step of the way, and attending to my needs both physically as well as mentally and emotionally. I know it can be hard for staff to find the right words to comfort patients in this situation, but not only did Karen comfort me and encourage me with her words when I thought I couldn’t continue, but throughout my labor, she also knew when I needed her to just say nothing at all. She reassured me of my strength and reminded me that I could get through the physical and emotional pains of this labor and delivery. After the baby was born, she even photographed the baby for us when we couldn’t find the strength. She doesn’t just have the skill to deliver babies, but also ANGELS!”

Congratulations and well deserved Karen! 

Seneca Blake

Seneca Blake is currently a nurse in the St. Joseph's Hospital emergency department. At the time of her nomination, she was on the cath recovery unit at St. Joseph's Hospital. She was nominated by a former patient. Here's her nomination:

"When you go to a hospital, your anxiety and worry of the unknown puts you on edge. Well, that was me on Nov. 21, 2023, around 2:30 p.m., until one of the kindest nurses came into my room with the brightest smile, and it was at that moment when all worry, anxiety passed away. Over the next hour, she went over all the details with us and it just felt like we had known Seneca our whole lives. After all the preparations for the heart cath was completed on her floor, they wheeled me down for my procedure. Upon my return, Seneca was waiting, and we shared the good report with her, and she celebrated with us."

"Seneca, knowing I would be hungry (I was very hungry) had a tray ordered for me. When I say it's the little things that matter in making someone's experience go from fair to excellent, well, Seneca did those little things that made a huge impact on our lives in just a few hours. My wife serves in the medical field, and it's hard to impress her, but not only was she impressed, she was raving about Seneca by the time we left."

"Thank you, Seneca, for being kind, joyful, patient and understanding through our time at St. Joseph's. St. Joseph's is just a building but when it's filled with people like Seneca, it's a place of hope and new beginnings." 

Congratulates and well deserved, Seneca!

Natalya Embry

Natalya Embry is a nurse in St. Joseph’s Hospital’s operating room. She was nominated by the family of a very special patient. Here’s her full nomination:

“Almost a year ago, we were visiting Savannah from Michigan. My husband, son and I were planning to spend a few days touring, enjoying the history of this beautiful old town. But our plans were shattered when our son (23 years old) fell ill. He developed the most horrible headache and was really confused. After two days of trying to relieve his pain, he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, unable to speak and very confused. Emergency room doctors called a neurosurgeon on call. And this is how our story begins.”

“That same day we met a wonderful Dr. Howington who told us that based on MRI images, (our son) had a tumor on his brain that creates a pressure, causing his symptoms. He suggested to perform an emergency surgery to remove it. Within an hour, our son was taken to the operating room holding area, and that is how we met wonderful Natalya. She was very calm, understanding and knowledgeable. She clicked with (our son) almost immediately. He called her his princess. Within an hour, she took him for surgery. It was the most difficult and nerve-racking experience in our life, not knowing what to expect. Natalya made sure to keep us informed throughout his surgery. She even called us to let us know that the tumor was successfully removed. She made sure that not only (our son) is OK, but also we are doing good.”

“The next few days were the most difficult for our family. After surgery, (our son) was transferred to NICU. He was doing better, but still confused. Finally on the third day, he opened his eyes and told us that he wanted to see his princess. We couldn’t understand what he meant at first, but he kept telling us that he wanted to see his nurse. We realized that he must be talking about Natalya. We were able to contact her and asked her if she would come visit. Little did we know, Natalya had been visiting him after work. They developed a very strong bond, and she kept motivating him every day. (Our son) was diagnosed with stage IV terminal brain cancer. The only thing we could do for him is keep him comfortable. He spent a few more weeks at the hospital with his favorite nurse by his side. We went back home to Michigan. A month later, our son lost his battle with cancer.”

“Looking back on our trip to Savannah, dealing with the horrible diagnosis, going through treatment, we wouldn’t be able to do it without the help and support of Natalya, who went above and beyond to make sure that we are OK. We are very grateful to all the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital and especially Natalya.”

What a great example of compassionate nursing Natalya! Congratulations on a well-deserved honor. We’d like to note that Natalya wants to share her DAISY recognition with the entire team in the St. Joseph’s Hospital operating room. 

Darienne Sisu

Darienne is a nurse in St. Joseph's Hospital's Day Surgery unit. She was nominated by a patient. Here's her nomination: 

"The nurse who works in the outpatient surgery unit who was to place my IV was the most caring and compassionate nurse I’ve ever had. She listened to me and went out of her way to put me at ease. She is a true angel. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about how caring she was to a perfect stranger who was a bundle of nerves before my procedure. I sent my sincerest appreciation and hope she is recognized for what a wonderful nurse she is."

Darienne is a somewhat new face to St. Joseph's/Candler but as you just read, she's already making an impact. Congratulations Darienne.

Dexter is a nurse in the Candler Emergency Department. He was nominated by the child of a patient who came to the ED one night when Dexter was working. Here’s his nomination:

“Dexter was just amazing when my Mom arrived in the ER. He was professional and attentive. My Mom said she called him her ‘prince charming’ as he was putting her socks on. My Mom’s condition was critical and the situation was scary. Dexter also took special care of my Dad. He saw Dad was visibly upset and made sure to check on him in the ‘quiet room’ before he left for the night. My Dad embraced Dexter and just thanked him for taking such good care of my Mom.”

Congratulations and well-deserved Dexter! 

Kristy Pilgrim

Kristy is a nurse on the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) at St. Joseph's Hospital. She was nominated by a child of a patient. Here's her nomination:

"When my mother coded during a procedure, it was very scary, and we didn't understand what was happening. Kristy came in and calmed my step dad. She provided him with love, comfort, understanding and most importantly, information at a level he understood. Having her by his side when I couldn't be truly was a blessing. Since then, she has checked on us routinely and never fails to provide excellent care. Truly a blessing in such as traumatic time. We are thankful for all she has done."

Congratulations Kristy!

Nadia Edenfield

Nadia is a nurse on the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) at Candler Hospital. She was nominated by the daughter of a patient. Here’s her nomination:

“My father has been a patient for a week now and has had multiple nurses that have all been great but Nadia has gone above and beyond to care for my father. I have been an EMT for over 20 years and met hundreds of nurses but Nadia genuinely cares for her patients, I can tell. She has treated my father with kindness, compassion and upmost respect. Two of the shifts she was training a new nurse to the PCU floor, in addition to all the other duties she had. I have seen in other hospital settings where the RN would have the LPN or CNA do task like cleaning someone, emptying a urinal or fetch ice and water but I observed Nadia do all these tasks herself. From our conversations, she seems to really love her job and care for all her patient’s well-being. It was a pleasure to have met her and have her care for my father.”

Great job Nadia and well deserved! 

Caroline Warren

Caroline is a nurse on the Labor & Delivery Unit at the Mary Telfair Women's Hospital on Candler's campus. She was nominated by a woman who Caroline helped deliver her angel baby. Here's her nomination: 

"Caroline was with me the day I gave birth to my angel baby. I was admitted knowing I had lost my baby. Caroline came in on her day shift that morning with the most compassionate, empathetic and sweet disposition. She has such a calming, gentle and caring spirit about her. Caroline was constantly in my room (in the best way); she was constantly making sure I was OK and didn't need a single thing. After a long night of medications to induce labor not working, they finally began to work. Caroline was so attentive and listened to everything I was describing. I've never given birth before, so knowing what to feel and say was hard. Caroline knew exactly what to do and quickly got the doctor when it was time. She was with me the entire time. She reassured me and comforted me when I felt that my world was ending. She and another nurse took such good care of my angel baby boy. They cleaned him up and got him dressed so we could see him for a while. Caroline treated him just like any other baby; she swaddled him for me and talked to him and held him so sweetly. I will always treasure these moments I had with my baby, and Caroline helped make those moments as sweet as they were. She stuck by my side and helped me get back up again."

To show compassion during the most difficult moments in nursing takes a special nurse. Congratulations and well deserved Caroline!

Amanda Kellam

Amanda is a nurse on the Neuro Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She was nominated by a family member of a former patient, who also happens to be a nurse. Here’s part of her nomination:

“I was able to make it to the hospital around 4:30 p.m. on 11/12/2022 where I was able to put names with the faces that had been helping so much over the past 24 hours. I was greeted by Amanda. This angel was with us all weekend, and I couldn’t have asked for more. She went above and beyond to make sure that we were taken care of as a family while providing excellent care to (my family member), who was simply on life support awaiting donation. (My family member) was so peaceful, which provided so much relief to my family, especially her children. The character of the nurses embodies everything that we as nurses and healthcare providers should represent. I couldn’t have asked for anything else. In a world where the nursing shortage is high and quality bedside nursing is low, you are blessed to have such an amazing staff that cares for patients and families in their most critical times.”

We agree and do feel blessed to have amazing nurses at St. Joseph’s/Candler. Great job Amanda and the entire NICU team!

Katie Reid

The DAISY award recognizes nurses nominated by patients or family members for going above and beyond to provide high-quality care. Reid received a certificate, an award statue (handcrafted in Zimbabwe), a gift bag and Cinnabon cinnamon rolls to share with her fellow co-workers.

As part of SJ/C's Float Pool, Reid sees a variety of patients on both campuses. One particular patient was struggling emotionally after a month in the hospital, away from his family. Reid helped arrange more visitation and became a crucial source of emotional support for her patient. Thank you, Katie, and congrats!

Kurt Nemeck

Kurt is a nurse on 7South at St. Joseph's Hospital. He was nominated by the family of a former patient. Here's his nomination: 

"For most people, nothing on earth is more precious to us than our family. When a loved one is critically ill, the quality of medical care and treatment that person receives is of great concern to the entire family. If you cannot be with them because of a pandemic, that level of concern is multiplied ten-fold. My husband was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital suffering from pneumonia and other COVID-19 virus symptoms. He was initially admitted to ICU, but later moved to the COVID wing where he remained for two weeks until his death. While in the hospital, he was treated by a number of very skilled and especially kind and compassionate medical professionals. I cannot express how much our family appreciates these people! Not only did they give my husband excellent care, but they were also so considerate and patient with me. Not being able to be there with him was heartbreaking for me and particularly disturbing to him so even though I talked to him every day, we were both beyond distraught. All these nurses were incredibly busy taking care of patients yet they were always willing to give me daily updates on his condition. They even volunteered to set up FaceTime sessions so we could have some semblance of visitation. I could not possibly list everyone who cared for him, but there were several who were particularly exceptional. Mark, Kurt and Jordan were all heroes in my book! If this letter is acceptable, I would like to use it as a nomination for a DAISY award. Despite what has to be an unbelievably stressful environment, they always displayed such patience and compassion. Later when we were able to visit my husband, Kurt treated our family with such kindness. In the last hours of my husband’s life, Kurt was with us offering support and comfort. I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to all of the staff in this unit and pray that God blesses each in a special way."

Great job by Kurt, who humbly credited the entire 7South team for their amazing patient care. We are lucky to have such wonderful nurses!

Doug Amato

Doug is a nurse on the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at St. Joseph's Hospital. He was nominated by a former patient. Here's his nomination:

"On December 16, 2020, I suffered a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph's Hospital where I underwent a cardiac cath and received two stents. The nurse who took care of me that night was named Doug. Although the cath procedure relieved the pain, I was pretty miserable. The nausea was terrible. I was cold. I was scared. I was crying. When Doug came into the room and found me in this state, I remember him saying, 'I'm just going to sit here with you for a while,' and he did for most of the night. He gave me medication to relieve the nausea, cleaned me up and dried me off from an unfortunate bed pan incident and provided me with excellent nursing care. 

The fact that he heard my anguish and made an effort to address my fears and acted with such compassion during that long night showed that he is truly meant to be a nurse. My husband is a retired nurse. When he was in the room, Doug worked respectfully with him to ease my anxiety and make me comfortable while monitoring my condition. I felt that Doug actually cared about how I was doing and treated me as if I was a member of his family. I would like to see Doug recognized with a DAISY award for his exemplary service and care."

Award well deserved. Congratulations Doug!

David Laumeyer

David Laumeyer

David is a nurse in ICU at Candler Hospital. He was nominated by a child of a previous patient. Here’s his nomination:

“After my mother spent five weeks in ICU between two hospitals, we had numerous nurses care for my mother; however, none of them came close to delivering the level of care that David did! He was extremely informative, honest and compassionate every time he cared for her. Not only are his medical skills superb, but his ability to connect with others is remarkable! He always lent a listening ear for us through our darkest days. We will truly be forever grateful for his exemplary service! What an amazing nurse and human being he is!”

Way to go David! If you’d like to learn more about David and why he became a nurse, check out his Spotlight On Our Nurses feature.

Judy Mincey

Judy is a nurse on the sixth floor of the north wing at Candler Hospital. She's been a nurse at Candler for 40 years. Here's her nomination:

Judy Mincey

"Judy was very attentive to my dad from the moment she came on duty.  She was proactive in helping my dad be comfortable when his chest tube was removed & cheered him on for meeting milestones of activity and eating.  She took pride in keeping my dad’s room orderly and comfortable.  

She checked on him regularly to ensure he wasn’t in pain and also meeting his breathing exercise goals.  She welcomed me into my father’s care and didn’t make me feel like I was a bother with questions or concerns.  She clearly explained and demonstrated to me how to care for my dad’s post-op chest tube wound, giving me confidence to be the caregiver at home.  

Judy built bridges and treated us with care of the highest level, while professional and managing a heavy patient load.  Her excellence is a model of grace and deep commitment to being an excellent nurse in every way."

Becky Welch

Becky Welch

Becky is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital and was nominated by a family member of a former patient. Here’s Becky’s nomination:

“Becky was one of the most amazing nurses we have ever had. When (my family member) came into the ICU we didn’t know if he was going to make it. She took such good care of him. When he was able to talk, she stopped everything to listen. She took her time to explain to me what she was doing and why. One time I got really scared and started to cry and she hugged me and told me that together we were going to pull him through.

“When he started feeling better, she would joke with us and make things seem a little brighter. I cried when she told me she was on vacation and we wouldn’t see her again. She’s an ANGEL!”

Steven Giles

Steven Giles

Steven was nominated by a sibling of a patient he served in the Intensive Care Unit where Steven works at Candler Hospital. Steven’s patient was intubated for 16 days. On day 13, the patient’s siblings arrived from Wisconsin after driving 18 straight hours, not sure if their brother was going to survive.

Steven was the patient’s nurse and greeted the siblings in a calm manner and “provided a thorough update on my brother’s course in the ICU, answering my questions and concerns.”

Steven served as a communication bridge between different doctors. He allowed the siblings to stay with their brother to support him and always explained what he was doing. “This decreased our anxiety,” the sibling wrote in the nomination.

“I am a RN and CEO at a Wisconsin Hospital. I know a good nurse when I see them in action. Steven is excellent.”

Great job Steven!

Leeza Ioffe

Leeza Ioffe

Leeza was nominated by the family of a patient in the Intensive Care Unit where Leeza works at Candler Hospital. Leeza’s calm manner during the difficult discussion the family had about end-of-life care really stood out with this family. Leeza was described as a support and answered any questions the family had.

“I honestly don’t remember how much time she took sitting in the conference room, answering questions and providing explanations,” the nominator wrote.

“Leeza was a comfort to all of us, particularly my husband and his sister. As they tried to decide whether to transition into hospice care or continue therapy, Leeza’s calm manner and patience were so helpful to my family, as the difficult decision was made.

“Leeza’s presence helped my family tremendously.”

Congratulations on the award Leeza and job well done!

Tiffany Prevatt

Tiffany Prevatt

Tiffany was nominated not just by a patient but multiple members of the patient’s family. Tiffany is a labor and delivery nurse at The Mary Telfair Women’s Hospital at St. Joseph’s/Candler. On July 28, 2017, her patient was induced. After spending the day changing positions and watching the baby’s heart rate, it was time to start pushing at 7:20 p.m. Tiffany was supposed to get off at 7:30 p.m., but stayed to help deliver the baby.

“She did not have to stay but she did not want to leave me nor did I want her to leave me,” the first-time mom wrote in her nomination. “I felt an immediate bond with her just after 30 minutes of being together.

“She captured so many wonderful pictures for us that we could have never gotten if it was not for her. She kept our families updated and made sure I was comfortable and walked me through every step from the start of being induced until delivery and even after.”

Tiffany’s kindness and dedication were the reasons not only the new mom nominated Tiffany but also the sister-in-law and grandparents:

“Tiffany went above and beyond her job with my brother and sister-in-law (who are first-time parents)! She stayed after her shift to help deliver my little nephew. She was very caring, friendly and assuring. The new parents have already asked her to be there for the delivery of their next child!” wrote the sister-in-law.

“We were all first-time grandparents and great-grandparents, and of course, the first-time parents. She comforted us all. When we were all getting anxious after not hearing anything for a couple of hours, she came out to update us. Tears flowed, hugs were shared and comfort was given. We hope in a couple of years she will be this family’s labor & delivery nurse again. She is like part of the family now!” signed the new grandparents. 

Vanessa Gregory

Vanessa Gregory

Vanessa was nominated by her patient in the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion Infusion Center. It was hard for this patient to choose which nurse impressed her the most because all are “gracious and professional,” she wrote in her nomination. However, she nominated Vanessa due to Vanessa’s true love of her position.

“She can make me forget what I am going through, and I leave there after my treatments feeling loved and happy. I never feel like I am dying. I feel we are in this fight together. Determined to win.”

Way to go Vanessa! 

Sarah Hartsell

Sarah Hartsell

Sarah was nominated by the wife of a patient who was in the St. Joseph’s Hospital Coronary Care Unit (CCU) following heart surgery. Sarah was described as “very informative and compassionate.” The wife went on to say that Sarah was attentive and confident in her duties.

The patient was a on a ventilator, which was a scary situation for the family. However, Sarah kept assuring everyone that the patient was doing well. The wife felt like her husband was in good hands with Sarah around.

“There are a lot of nurses but some are by license only. Sarah is a nurse from the heart. Thank you Sarah.” 

Kenny Hastings

Kenny Hastings

Kenny was nominated by a patient's family that took the time to write a letter expressing their gratitude for Kenny. Kenny, a RN on 5 South at St. Joseph's Hospital, was helping take care of an end-of-life, 98-year-old patient. The patient was a World War II veteran and was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's. Despite flashbacks and bouts of agitation, Kenny always took care of the patient with a friendly and positive attitude, the family wrote.

When it was decided the patient needed hospice care, Kenny made sure the patient was taken care of up to being discharged. After his shift ended, Kenny went home to tuck his two young daughters in bed and then rode his bike (in January) back to St. Joseph's with his grandmother's Bible. He read verses to the patient late into the night to calm the patient and his wife.

This isn't unusual for Kenny, who has a reputation of visiting with patients after his shift ends. He's even been known to bring his flute and play for patients. 

Great job Kenny! 

How can we help you?