When he was admitted to the intensive-care unit at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville two months ago, Dee Husketh's patient had no clean clothes, no job, no family and little hope.
At night, the young homeless man sought shelter in the woods of Jasper County and carried what little he owned in a dirty, tattered backpack.
Husketh wanted merely to do for him what she had done for thousands of patients over her 37-year nursing career -- treat him with compassion and do her best to mend him physically and, if need be, emotionally.
"I just felt so bad that he was homeless and didn't have so much," Husketh said. "I knew he had a hard life, and I wanted to help him. That's what we do as nurses. You do whatever you can for people in the 12 hours that you're here."
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Her supervisors said she did more than that, and on Thursday, she received the hospital's DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses for the difficult work they do each day.
"She took the time to be with him and listen to him and what he had to say," said Shelly Weilenman, the hospital's chief nursing officer. "She washed his clothes and purchased and donated a new backpack and new tennis shoes so he could feel clean and whole when he left the hospital. She treated him with such dignity and respect."
The man, whose name could not be released because of patient privacy laws, has since been discharged from the hospital. He did not attend Thursday's ceremony.
The award is sponsored by the national DAISY Foundation, formed in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died from complications of an auto-immune disease. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.
More than 1,000 health care facilities around the world give their nurses DAISY Awards, according to the foundation's website.
Locally, the award also has been given at Beaufort Memorial and Hilton Head hospitals.
Weilenman said Husketh was a natural selection for the award.
"This might seem like a minor thing, but it probably meant the world to this man and should remind us of what a small window of opportunity we have in this profession to make such a dramatic impact on people's lives," Weilenman said.
Husketh, who has worked at the hospital since it opened seven years ago, said she still thinks about that homeless man and hopes he made it home -- that was the plan they had discussed.
- Hilton Head nurse recognized for compassion, skill, June 27, 2012
- DAISY Foundation recognizes efforts of nurses during Hardeeville ceremony, May 8, 2012
- Beaufort Memorial oncology nurse honored with DAISY Award; Nov. 22, 2011