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A Glimmer of Light

Hannah Egge, RN, helped her patient beat pneumonia, then led him to more Kaiser Permanente help to regain his sobriety.

A month after the devastating North Bay fires hit in October 2017, Hannah Egge, RN, cared for a patient admitted with pneumonia to the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center.

While the patient was in the Med-Surg Telemetry Unit, she discovered that he was grappling with alcoholism, too.

He explained that with a fiancé and their baby on the way, all had been going well. The couple had just finished outfitting a nursery. Then a week later the fires hit — and they lost their home.

“Losing our home made me feel like less of a man,” he wrote later. “This doesn’t make sense to many, but I felt that I could no longer protect my family. I had been sober for 5 years and after the fire, I broke my sobriety. I was scared, humiliated, and full of shame.”

Treating the Whole Patient

Egge learned that her patient had been to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) but not made many connections to help him when he backslid. A nurse for 5 years, Egge had started out in psychiatry and readily connected patients to the excellent care available in Kaiser Permanente Behavioral Health, ranging from counseling and therapy to substance use disorder treatment.

Egge tapped into Kaiser Permanente’s robust network of Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, which in Northern California includes 9 intensive addiction medicine programs as well as outpatient programming for substance use disorders at the 21 medical centers.

What Egge didn’t realize at the time was the profound impact her clinical knowledge combined with kindness would have.

Last December Egge learned that her patient had nominated her for the prestigious national DAISY Award for compassionate, clinical excellence in nursing — and that she had won.

In addition to a ceremony in front of her peers, Egge also received a pin and a beautiful serpentine stone sculpture made by Zimbabwe artists that is called “A Healer’s Touch.”

“How often we treat people, think about them, and want to know how they are, but we never hear from them again,” she said. “I was so happy to learn that his life is improving.”

What Her Patient Wrote

But what she has valued the most is the patient’s letter.

“I encountered many nurses during my stay, all were great, but one stood out amongst the rest,” he wrote. “Hannah Egge proved to be my living angel. From the moment I met her, I felt at ease. We discussed what led to my relapse and went over how my detox would go. It wasn’t easy, but Hannah helped me during my worst hours. I never felt judged, only kindly cared for.

“It wasn’t only for how Hannah cared about me but also my fiancé,” he continued. “She was our glimmer of light. Each day she would greet us with a smile and a good laugh, and without humor, I don’t think I would have made it. Hannah made us feel there is hope. She helped me realize that there is hope for people like me. She encouraged counseling through Kaiser’s mental health, which we have been attending. I just want the folks at Kaiser to know she touched our lives. My fiancé and I welcomed our baby girl, and I am sober, healthy and cherishing my life.”

Members and patients can learn more about Kaiser Permanente Behavioral Health, including services, support, providers, and self-care wellness resources.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Congratulations, Hannah! I was also awarded the Daisy Award long ago when it was first conceived. By far it has been the most touching and rewarding honor in my 14-year career. The letter from the family that nominated me is seared in my heart. Each day I aspire to rise to the care that touched them enough to honor me in such a way. It is truly a privilege to be allowed to care for patients and their families. It is so great to serve along side of such a great nurse and the countless others who go unnamed.

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