For Nurse Yeago, It's a Family Affair

UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award winners. Today: Desiree Yeago of the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center. To see all of the stories, click here.

May 27, 2011 — Desiree Yeago, a nurse at the University of Virginia's Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center, is all about family.

"She thinks the whole world is a family. She thinks of KCRC as a family," wrote one supporter of her nomination for a Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award.

"Watching our families look to Desiree for guidance, and the calm and reassuring way that she provides it, is wonderful to behold. The stress level of patients and their families palpably decreases as Desiree speaks with them," wrote three nominators, nurse coordinator Rebecca T. Gilbert, occupational therapist Susan L. Berres and Dr. Kenneth W. Norwood Jr., associate professor of pediatrics.

The center, part of the U.Va. Children's Hospital, is dedicated to serving children with special needs and their families in treatments and recovery.

Yeago, who chairs the center's Family-Centered Care Committee, continuously leads in making changes that allow patients and families to do things that bring some semblance of home routines to the hospital stay, the nominators said.

An event last October illustrates her efforts. After one teen-aged patient said she was sad to miss her school's Homecoming, Yeago "started the ball rolling for what would become one of the most magical events ever at KCRC," her nominators said – the center's own Homecoming party.

Other staff members pitched in to help. With the recreation therapy gym decked out in a "Starry Night" theme (from Vincent Van Gogh's painting), the event featured wheelchair games, visiting U.Va. football players, music and great food. People made sure there were fancy clothes, corsages and boutonnieres for all. Even some outpatients and their families came, just to enjoy the fun.

Yeago also developed a protocol that enables families to make and share their own meals, bringing a sense of normal mealtime routines. In addition, she drew up plans for a renovation of the family lounge to include a refrigerator and microwave and for another lounge to be available for patients who have to be isolated to avoid infection.

"She is a staunch advocate for her patients, not hesitating to bring concerns to the physicians and other staff. When Desiree sees a problem, she sets out to fix it ... and always sees ways to make the seemingly impossible possible," her colleagues wrote.

— By Anne Bromley

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications