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Cardiology Nurse First Pick for Nursing Award


February 5, 2020

Pittsburgh , PA — Registered nurse Elinor Donalson on Jan. 27 received VA Pittsburgh Health Care System’s first-ever DAISY Award.

By Sheila Tunney, Public Affairs Specialist

Registered nurse Elinor Donalson on Jan. 27 received VA Pittsburgh Health Care System's first-ever DAISY Award.

Veteran caregiver Blanche Jones-Meggett of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, nominated Donalson for her care, guidance and support as Jones-Meggett was helping her Marine Corps Veteran husband, Edward Meggett, through heart transplantation surgery.

Jones-Meggett cited Donalson's support during the 365 days before her husband's December 2019 heart transplant at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, "plus every day for the rest of our lives!"

"From day one her 'get the job done' attitude had an effect on me. She would be the instrument God used to get me through," Jones-Meggett wrote in her nomination. "She was never any further away than the phone, allowing me to call -- or my preference, text. She was a life line. She was my anchor, my muse, my friend. My inspiration to rediscover my forgotten potential."

The family of a man who died of an autoimmune disease, Patrick Barnes, established the Daisy Awards in 1993 to thank and recognize nurses worldwide who provide extraordinary care. Anyone in a participating health care organization can nominate a nurse, including patients and family members.

Donalson, of Mt. Lebanon, was recognized by Associate Director, Patient Care Services Brenda Shaffer along with her cardiology department peers at the system's Oakland campus. Donalson has been VA Pittsburgh's coordinator for advanced heart failure and pre-transplant since 2017 and worked in the cardiac intensive care unit before taking her current position.

"In a true example of grace and thoughtfulness, Blanche wanted to recognize me, and words cannot express how that letter made me feel. This award is special and reminds us as nurses and health care providers, we do extraordinary things every day, but we need to take time and honor thank-yous and these recognitions," said Donalson.

Along with the recognition by peers and VA Pittsburgh leadership, each DAISY Award winner receives a specially made "The Healer's Touch" sculpture, a lapel pin, and professional development opportunities. Winners are also celebrated during  a ceremony -- complete with cinnamon buns --  explaining the meaning behind the award.

Cinnamon buns are present at the ceremonies as a reminder of the time Barnes ordered the sweet treats for every nurse on his unit as a thank you. Every time they smell the aroma of cinnamon, nurses are encouraged to think of how special they are to their patients.

Veterans, family members, staff and volunteers may nominate VAPHS nurses who demonstrate compassionate, extraordinary inpatient or outpatient care for our monthly DAISY Award at

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