‘Treat everyone like someone you love,’ 2-time DAISY winning nurse says

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RN Blake Thyssen is an ICU nurse at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.In February, he won his second DAISY Award, which honors "the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day."."It feels great to be recognized," he says, "but I’m definitely not able to do it without everybody. It’s a team sport.”."Everyone makes the job what it is," he says. "I wouldn’t be able to get an award without everyone."."If someone wants to be a nurse, just care," Thyssen says

“This young man is a true gift from God,” a patient’s mother wrote when nominating Blake Thyssen, RN, for a DAISY Award.

Thyssen had been one of her son’s nurses in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Fayette Hospital as B battled COVID-19.

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“My son was a special needs adult. His name was B, but we all called him ‘Bubba’ and he had been with me for 33 years,” B’s mother wrote. “Blake was his comforter when he was afraid. He was my voice since I could not be there to speak. He dispensed comfort, compassion and showed just how much he cared for my son.”

Thyssen gets choked up talking about B.

“I had him for four days when he arrived, then the last four days. To see him get progressively worse was a lot,” he said, taking a second to compose himself, “but making those moments when you take the mask off and wipe him down and stuff … I’m glad I was able to make him feel better. And I know it meant a lot to his mom.

“When it got closer to having to be intubated, I did my best to explain everything,” he continued. “I did my best to comfort him. I told him it was OK to be scared, but that we had him, that this is what we do.

“I don’t know how much he understood. My main thing was trying to help his mom deal with it, as much as possible, and comforting her a lot.”

Thyssen won his second DAISY Award in February for his care of B. DAISY — Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem — Awards were established by the family of Patrick Barnes, who died in 1999, because they were impressed by the care Barnes received from his nurses.

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Two awards (the first was in 2016) are impressive, especially considering Thyssen didn’t originally plan to become a nurse.

“My plan was to be a paramedic/firefighter in California,” he said. “Then I met a girl. She was going to Auburn for nursing, so I moved to the South.”

Thyssen started going to nursing school at Southern Union State Community College while “the girl” attended Auburn. She went back to California, but Thyssen had fallen in love with the South.

“I got on at Columbus Regional (Medical Center), and nursing was really my life,” he said. “I really enjoy it. I really enjoy helping people out and taking care of folks.”

Doctors pop in and out of patients’ rooms, Thyssen said, “but at the end of the day it’s the nurse that makes things as compassionate as they can. It’s up to us to make a rough situation as easy to deal with as possible. I feel like it’s our job to give care and medications, but we take care of the whole family.”

That’s the key to being a good nurse, he said.

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“If someone wants to be a nurse,” he said, “just care. Just treat everybody like it’s someone you love and you’ll never give subpar care.”

Thyssen credits his teammates with giving him the time and opportunity to care for patients and families the way he needs to.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be able to get the awards if it weren’t for the whole team,” he said, once again being overcome with emotion. “Everyone at work means so much. Everyone is crucial for the patients to get better, and really, to give me the time to spend with the families in their rooms.

“Being a dude nurse, I hate everyone knowing I’m a big softy, but I feel like it’s important to be a softy,” he continued. “This is the time to let your guard down and go out every day and put your heart in to it. It feels great to be recognized, but I’m definitely not able to do it without everybody. It’s a team sport.

“I just love that family so much.”

Being a big softy can sometimes work against him, Thyssen said.

“Losing someone like (B), it impacts the whole unit. Then you have to go in your other two patients’ rooms and act like nothing happened,” he said. “You have to go in that other room and not let that family sense how scared you are, because you don’t want them to be scared. You don’t want them to wonder ‘Is that going to happen to my loved one?’ If they see you’re scared, it just makes them so much more scared.”

Thyssen has had a lot of practice composing himself quickly during the pandemic, because being able to “lessen the hurt, to help to make a transition as easy as it can be, just helping people out, is the best part (of being a nurse). It really is.”

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