Nightingale Award winners display the essence of empathy

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 23, 2014

Florence Nightingale once said, “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.”

Anne Stewart and Lisa D’Andrea live by that mantra and then some.

Stewart and D’Andrea are winners of the Nightingale Award for Nursing Excellence in the categories of “Distinguished Oakland University Alumni” and “Staff Nurse Practice.” It is the 26th year Oakland University’s School of Nursing has honored Michigan’s top nurses.

The award requires winners to be nominated by someone, be it a peer, coworker or someone else with ties to a program or hospital. It’s a very complex process that takes time to sort through a pool of many worthy candidates.

Stewart, a Clinton Township resident who was been at Grosse Pointe Beaumont since her beginnings as a staff nurse in 1984, was recently promoted to vice president and chief nursing officer. She was formerly the director of nursing.

She received a bachelor’s in nursing and obtained a MBA from Oakland University.

Her new position provides an avenue for higher administrative responsibility, such as dealing with fiscal operations and general hospital matters. For Stewart, it’s just another opportunity to continue to help others in a unique environment.

“My mother was a nurse,” Stewart said. “I looked up to her. She was a wonderful nurse and a wonderful person. When I looked for a career path, I followed her.

“Caring individuals who are very smart can do many things. The doors are always open. Nursing is the one career where, every day, there’s something new.”

D’Andrea, of Macomb Township, is a registered nurse who has worked for two years at the Beaumont Comprehensive Breast Care Center in both Troy and Royal Oak. She feeds patients, reviews their care plan, helps them with appointments, gives results of tests — she is basically the patients’ primary support.

She began her career as a nurse taking care of children with cancer in pediatric oncology. She then worked as an assistant manager for a few years in the maternal division of Beaumont.

“These are people; they’re not patients. They’re somebody’s loved ones,” D’Andrea said.

D’Andrea said that cancer at any age is an overwhelming experience for the patient. The little things make the biggest differences in these patients, she said, and will always do whatever it takes to improve the quality of their journey.

“I think that caring for children with cancer is the ultimate,” D’Andrea said. “When you learn to be compassionate — the children’s will to live, it teaches you to care for anybody in any setting … just their strength and hope.”

Both Stewart and D’Andrea have taken different routes to be where they are now, and both seem quite satisfied with how their journeys have unfolded.

Stewart, who officially began her new position this month, talked about the encouragement of her family. Her life passion synced perfectly with the love in the family, allowing for her to chase her own dreams and achieve great things.

“My family has always been supportive as I’ve gone through my different degrees, growth and education,” Stewart said. “They’ve without a doubt supported me. I’ve never felt that I couldn’t do something because of my family. I felt I could and I should.”

Stewart said that nursing requires a tenderness, to remember names and situations and be a lifeline — both figuratively and literally — for an innumerable amount of people, no matter what their situation.

Stewart didn’t know she was even nominated in the first place, receiving a page while conducting an all-day presentation. When she heard the good news, she thought about all the people in the field who do the work they do on a daily basis.

“I can tell you that every year (at the award ceremony), when people tell about the things they’ve done, it’s fabulous,” she said. “True, good, hardworking, smart people. It’s amazing when they get up and tell their story.”

D’Andrea had similar sentiments, saying that she felt honored and shocked to receive an award for something she loves doing. After 15 years of nursing, she doesn’t look at the award as one of competition; rather, the bronze statue symbolizes the willingness and compassion of an entire community that encourages others to be better.

“You touch the patient with your hands and your heart,” D’Andrea said. “There’s a multitude of things a nurse does at bedside, but mainly touching their heart and perform tasks every day to increase the wellness of our patients.

“I always loved to take care of people. It’s just something I always wanted to do,” she continued. “I don’t really know what made me decide to go to school to be a nurse, but it’s something I needed.”

The Nightingale Award ceremony will be held May 8 at the Mirage Banquet Hall in Clinton Township.