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Gunnison Valley Health Presents Nicole Santino, RN the 2023 DAISY Award

Gunnison Valley Health is proud to announce Nicole Santino, RN, as a winner of the prestigious DAISY Award. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation's mission to recognize the extraordinary, compassionate care nurses provide patients and families every day.

Nicole, a registered nurse working in the operating room at the hospital, was nominated by a patient who suffered a medical emergency requiring two surgeries and a hospital stay. In part, the nomination read:

“From the moment Nicole walked into the room, her demeanor and presence brought a sense of calm and reassurance. She had an exceptional ability to establish rapport with me and my family, developing an environment of trust and confidence. Nicole's empathetic approach went far beyond the clinical tasks - she took the time to listen attentively to my concerns and questions, ensuring that I was fully informed and engaged in my care journey. One aspect that truly sets Nicole apart was her remarkable ability to identify both my medical needs as well as my emotional needs. Nicole's attention to detail, critical thinking and willingness to advocate for me led to positive outcomes. Even in moments of high pressure, she remained composed and focused, instilling confidence in me and my family.”

The DAISY Award is nationally recognized and holds tremendous significance to the nursing community. Presentation of the award was absent from Gunnison Valley Health for several years, but a group of nursing staff undertook a project to restart the program with the full support of CEO Jason Amrich.

Kristen Dirksen, a registered nurse in Gunnison Valley Health’s operating room, said that getting the DAISY program up and running was a labor of love.

“Coming from a larger hospital, I was floored by the dedication and care the nurses provide at Gunnison Valley Health,” Dirksen said. “I was familiar with the DAISY award program and felt that it would be a great way for patients to provide direct feedback about their experience to their nurse. The shared governance team, a nurse-based council at Gunnison Valley Health, was instrumental in helping me get the program rolling.”

Santino explained that as a nurse, the significance cannot be understated.

“Winning the DAISY award is so meaningful to me because it truly shows that I’ve made a lasting impact in my patient’s care,” Santino said. “As nurses we think about our patients a lot, even after they are discharged. We share so many good, bad and vulnerable moments with them. It means so much when they take the time to thank us in this way once they are home. It’s truly a special relationship that we get to share with our patients.”

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.) The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

To learn more or nominate a member of the Gunnison Valley Health nursing team for the DAISY Award, visit