Bailey Strausser, who works second shift in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at the University of Iowa, was in the middle of managing multiple patients when one of them asked to speak to a Catholic priest as she felt herself slipping away. Strausser is now being honored for going above and beyond to honor her last wishes.
“In that moment, the end of her life, it was the last thing I could do to honor my patient,” said Strausser, RN, PCCN.
Summoning a priest proved to be much harder than she originally thought when she couldn’t get the on-call priest on the phone. When they didn’t answer, Strausser faced a choice: She could either wait for the priest to call back and hope her patient would still be alive or look for an alternative.
She chose the latter and started calling everyone she knew, asking them if they knew a priest who could deliver last rites.
“When it finally came through and we were able to get hold of a priest, I felt relief as well as happiness for the patient and their family,” Strausser explained. “I wanted to respect the religious aspect of my patient’s life.”
The hospital’s onsite chaplain provided interim spiritual support until she was able to get a hold of the priest. They were blown away with how Strausser handled the situation. “During a very difficult night, Bailey showed compassion, team spirit, determination, resolve, and bestowed the great gift of dignity on everyone involved. It was a gift to work alongside Bailey,” the chaplain commented.
Strausser originally decided to become a nurse in her 20s after watching her grandfather pass away. “He had a nurse who took care of his medical needs, but she made our family feel as if he was more than just a patient,” she recalled. “Even in the worst moment—the worst possible scenario—she made it a little bit brighter.”
Those experiences still inspire her today. “I don’t want to just be ‘the nurse.’ I want to be an advocate and someone who can take the worst night of someone’s life and ease a little bit of the pain.”
She chose the night shift because it allowed her to spend more time with her patients. “I like the night shift because of the environment. Patients have less interactions with things like physical therapy or the different teams rounding. It’s more nurse-to-patient time.”
Strausser is now the proud recipient of the DAISY Award, but she said she wouldn’t have been able to provide such excellent care if it weren’t for her amazing colleagues.
“Everyone’s always been a team player,” she said. “I feel a sense of safety walking into work because I know that no matter what is thrown at us, I’ll have a line of people ready to help. I always feel more than supported by my co-workers.”
The nurses on the night shift came together to come up with a solution. “It was honestly a team effort,” she added. “I had nurses on one end of the unit trying to brainstorm ways we could find a priest and then there were those who helped me take care of my patients as well as their own patients to make sure everyone was cared for appropriately.”