Methodist Hospital Nurse's Compassion Makes Life-Changing Impact on Patient
Published: Jan. 11, 2021
Gabby Oehm, BSN, RN, hasn’t been a nurse at Methodist Hospital for long, but she’s already making an impact with her attitude and ambition.
When caring for patients on the Short Stay Unit, her philosophy is simple.
“I like to hear about people’s lives and the different walks of life they come from,” said Oehm, who joined the staff in June 2020. “I just go with an open mind and try to have a positive attitude. I think it kind of gives off a healing spirit and a little bit of hope.”
Meanwhile, the self-described busybody is studying at Clarkson College to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). And with previous experience as an intensive care unit nurse, she recently jumped at the chance to assist with the care of higher acuity intermediate patients, which includes patients recovering from COVID-19.
Oehm’s passion for caring for others and going above and beyond was recently on display during an encounter that proved life-changing for a patient.
“Gabby Was My Savior”
Last month, Oehm was surprised with The DAISY Award, which honors extraordinary skill and compassion in nursing. She was nominated for the award by a patient who wrote:
“This is why I believe God made angels to be RNs like my Gabby. I had the honor of having this beautiful soul care for me while I was very sick.
“My sickness is not the kind you can see. Mine is a mental illness, Bipolar 2. When I came to Gabby's unit, I was in a full manic attack. After 36 years of being bipolar, this was my first attack in 20 years. Very scared and being from another state, (I was) not sure if anyone would understand what a manic attack was or looked like. Frightened and looking at every professional's eyes, I was amazed and pleasantly relieved by the empathy and understanding of the team.
“Finally my brain registered to "SAFE." Still shaking, but I knew I was going to make it the next two hours. I was in ED for nine hours, but I didn't mind. It was better than my alternative plan.
“Every hour got better. No one left me alone – and that saved me. Once I got to the floor, Gabby was my savior that night. She was a large light of joy for me. Always consistent in everything she said she was going to do. Always with a smile. Always concerned about me. I only existed when she was in my room. She was happy but focused. She could do three things at once accurately while still making eye contact with me to make sure I was still there.
“Again, all her peers seemed to really admire her and her work ethic. I know I did. Hours went by, and slowly I could feel my heart stop racing. My normal thoughts were coming back. Yeah, of course the meds helped, but nothing can help you without true kindness, the loving of one another and, of course, all the great care Gabby gave me as a mother would to her sick child. Thank you to the ED and to 5 South. Gabby, I wouldn't be walking out of here today if it wasn't for you!”
Oehm said she was in shock when surprised with the award, and hearing the patient’s nomination was bittersweet. Oehm has had her own mental health challenges, many of her family members have struggled with addiction and her mother, who recently passed away, battled bipolar depression for much of her life.
“I was really trying to make the patient feel safe, because a lot of people who are suicidal don’t feel safe,” Oehm said. “I guess I didn’t realize I made that big of an impact. It made me feel really good to know that I made someone’s life better.”
Oehm’s supervisor, Sheri Cunningham, MSN, RN, PCCN, SAB, said being honored with The DAISY Award says a lot about Oehm and the quality of care Methodist is known for.
“What I was struck by was that it’s really about that compassion you have for patients, and listening,” said Cunningham, service leader for the hospital’s Short Stay Unit. “Even being a newer nurse, you can make that impact. Being compassionate, that’s so important. That’s not something that you can teach very well. I was so proud to realize that this was Gabby that the patient was talking about.”
A Leader in the Making
In Oehm, Cunningham sees not only a caring nurse but a leader in the making. She sees it in Oehm’s plans to become an APRN and her willingness to assist with intermediate care patients.
“She always wants to be helpful, and she’s willing to learn and step up and try something new,” Cunningham said. “All of those things that she desires to do, they’re only going to make her a better nurse and help her to become that leader that she desires to be.”
Oehm said helping out where she can is a small way she can support nurses directly caring for COVID-19 patients. And as honored as she was to receive The DAISY Award, she said there are countless others who should be recognized.
“I just feel for those people who have been doing it from the beginning,” Oehm said. “I feel like every nurse deserves The DAISY Award this year, especially the COVID nurses working on the front lines.”