The level of gratitude that family and loved ones feel when they have gone through a significant loss with the support of professional and compassionate nurses is hard to describe. There are many ways this gratitude is expressed. Sometimes it is in silence with a deep look into each other’s eyes, a thank you that words cannot express. Sometimes words are used, but often don’t feel adequate. Gratitude may come in a thank you letter. And sometimes, the loss is so overwhelming that it takes time to heal enough to feel the gratitude, much less express it.  


One family found that the gratitude they felt for the nurses who took care of their son was so profound that it needed to be honored in a way that acknowledged not only the kindness, compassion and support they and their son experienced, but the excellence in his care. It was in contemplating how to best approach this that DAISY was born. From a place of deep gratitude DAISY has evolved to be a worldwide non-profit, devoted to meaningful recognition of nurses. Today the DAISY Award has become a beacon of acknowledgement to the extraordinary work nurses do every day.


A new father, Patrick Barnes, whose nurses were the inspiration for DAISY, died at 33 years of age from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. While reflecting on the 8 week hospitalization his father Mark Barnes said about the nurses: “They truly helped us through the darkest hours of our lives, with soft voices of hope and strong loving hugs that to this day, we still feel.”


This experience quickly became the catalyst for the DAISY Foundation. Patrick’s family then created The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.  DAISY which is an acronym for diseases attacking the immune system has grown significantly over the last 20 years. They support meaningful recognition in over 4,400 healthcare facilities, in 29 countries and have given out over 136,000 DAISY Awards, creating a powerful movement that continues to expand and shed light on the importance of recognition across the globe. 


Loss is a very complex experience to navigate for all involved. Being there as a witness and support during some of the hardest moments that life has to offer is a part of the job of being a nurse. Building a movement in meaningful recognition, to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary work of nurses was not on the minds of Patrick’s family when DAISY started, but it is now! They have dedicated their lives to this noble effort. 


About the Author

Kathy Douglas, RN, MPH-HA

Kathy is a nationally recognized nurse leader, entrepreneur, author and award-winning filmmaker. She has been on the executive team of several healthcare start-up companies. She is the author of numerous published articles on the healthcare workforce. Kathy wrote and directed the film, NURSES If Florence Could See US Now, an intimate look into the world of nursing today. Her passion over the last decade has been focused on the health and well-being of our healthcare workforce. She is co-author of the book The Dance of Caring – A Caregivers Guide to Harmony and is active in promoting self-care among caregivers.  She was recognized by AACN with their Pioneering Spirit Award and featured on the cover of Nurse Leader magazine, as a leader to honor.