Lutheran Hospital Nurse Shares Forever Bond with Former Patient’s Family

The following is a personal account shared by Jami Rumple, RN, BSN, Nurse Manager of the Cardiovascular ICU, on behalf of Lutheran Hospital’s DAISY Award winner, Kendra Mckaig.

“The charge nurse came to find me because a patient’s wife and family wanted to speak to the nurse manager on the unit. I was on my way to a meeting at the time they requested to speak to me. The charge nurse informed me that the family was willing to wait as long as necessary to speak with me. After we were able to speak, they had planned to withdraw care on their loved one.

DAISY Award winner, Kendra Mckaig

Providing background, their loved one was a patient who had received a cadaver kidney transplant many years ago. His transplant had failed and he had been on life support for a few weeks. The family knew keeping him on life support would not have been his wishes, so they had planned to withdraw care as soon as family members could make it from out of town to say their goodbyes.

I met with the family in a waiting room when the wife expressed her gratitude for the exceptional care her husband received while he was hospitalized at Lutheran. She explained how all the nursing staff had been so extremely kind and supportive of her during this difficult journey. Her eyes began to well up with tears and she could barely tell me the rest of what she wanted to say, but she was determined to let me know that one nurse stood out above all the rest – Kendra Mckaig.

Kendra had been the nurse for the patient for three days leading up to the day that they were withdrawing his care. The wife had taken immediate notice the day Kendra took care of her husband that she was wearing a mustard seed necklace – she cried once she saw it. She said she couldn’t go into much detail about the conversations they had about the necklace because it would make her cry. She just wanted to express how meaningful those conversations were to her during this time and how it aided in her husband’s end of life choices. She couldn’t thank her enough for that.

DAISY Award winner, Kendra Mckaig

The wife continued that Kendra would come in on her day off, the day they would turn off all the machines and let her husband go to heaven, just to give her a mustard seed necklace of her own. She showed the necklace to me and stated she would hold it in one hand and her husband’s hand in the other when the machines would be shut off. She stated she had no way of really expressing how thankful she was for Kendra and her extreme acts of kindness.

Kendra had, after this date, been out for a knee surgery. Upon her arrival back, I let her know about the conversation I had with the wife of this patient and asked her what the mustard seed conversation was about because whatever she had said really brought the wife great comfort. Kendra began to explain that the wife had seen the necklace and immediately was brought to tears. She continued, her husband had bought her a necklace just like this when they were first married and she wore it every day. A year ago, the necklace broke and it was lost. Her husband promised he would buy her a new one as soon as they could, but was never able to do so. Upon seeing the necklace, she felt so heartbroken that he was never able to fulfill that promise. She knew this would break his heart as he always kept promises.

Kendra came in on that day just to give the wife her necklace, knowing that she needed it much more than she did. She told the wife to please take this and know her husband’s promise would be fulfilled.

The wife felt she had a calling to go into healthcare after her husband’s death. She serves as a reminder that because of Kendra’s kind heart, she knew she needed to work in healthcare to give back what was given to her. Kendra truly planted a seed in a family’s life that they will never forget.”

-Jami Rumple

Lutheran Health Network recognizes extraordinary nurses from hospitals across the network with The DAISY Award. This international recognition program was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes by members of his family. In late 1999, Patrick died at the age of 33 from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon autoimmune disease. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique way of thanking those professionals for making a profound difference in the lives of patients and their families.