MHE Foundation Supporter Establishes Nursing Excellence Scholarship Award

Nurses touch the lives of patients and their families everyday in the hospital, at an outpatient center or in a physician’s office. Sometimes their impact is appreciated so much that the recipients of their care want to return the favor.

This is how the Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award was born. In 2006, Karin Brown was helping her mother deal with a medical crisis while juggling the demands of moving her family from Ohio to New York. Her mother, Joan Whaley of Easton, was a patient of Ludwig Eglseder, III. Brown knew Dr. Eglseder’s office nurse, Karen Spies, from meeting her at her mother’s office appointments and from hearing her mother talk about the personal touch that was a regular part of the nurse’s care.

Throughout 2006, Whaley was hospitalized twice and required home care services. Spies regularly called and visited Whaley, knowing that her family was far away and that the independent woman might not reach out for help. On one occasion, when Spies visited Whaley at home, she immediately saw that the woman needed emergency care. Karen made the 911 call that got Whaley to The Memorial Hospital at Easton, a step that saved the woman’s life.

Remembering Spies and the care she provided until the end of Joan Whaley’s life in 2007, Brown says, “Because of Karen’s care, I had extra, wonderful time with mom.”

Brown contacted the Memorial Hospital Foundation about making a donation to honor Karen Spies. The gift Brown made to the Foundation will fund the Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award. Brown explains, “Karen is an inspiration. If other nurses can be inspired to give patients this same kind of care and attention, other people can have more time with their loved ones,” Brown says.

Karen Spies always wanted to be a nurse. “This was my childhood dream,” Spies remembers. “I have always had a desire to care for people.”

A 1972 graduate of the Macqueen Gibbs Willis School of Nursing, Spies worked as a nurse at Memorial Hospital until 1999, when she joined Dr. Eglseder’s practice. Her hospital nursing career included over 15 years in the Emergency Department and assignments on the medical/surgical nursing unit and in the post anesthesia care unit in surgical services.

“As nurses, we have to be advocates for our patients and for their family members,” says Spies. She adds that this is particularly true for older people, whose families may not live nearby. “It is important for nurses to help patients voice their opinions and to keep them informed about their care. I want people to know that they can trust me, that I am there for their medical issues as well as for emotional support.”

Because she has been a nurse for 37 years, Spies has formed long term relationships with patients. Some of them she met as a nurse in the hospital and continues to see in Dr. Eglseder’s office.

The Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award will be used to recognize a nurse for nursing research accomplishments. The first award winner will be announced in May during Nurses Week and will be given to the most outstanding participant in the annual Nursing Research Fair.

“Establishment of the Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award demonstrates that nurses are highly valued by the loved ones who are integral members of a patient’s healthcare team,” says Julia Marlowe, vice president of philanthropy for Shore Health System. “We are most appreciative that this family chose to support Shore Health System’s commitment to nursing excellence.”

Karen Hendricks, MSHCA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, director of the Shore Health System Institute for Nursing Science, comments, “Nursing is both an art and a science. At Shore Health System, we emphasize the importance of research as the foundation of patient care decisions. By participating in research projects, nurses learn to blend theory and practice so that they have the knowledge and skills needed to provide exceptional patient care.”

Hendricks adds, “We are most grateful for the donation that has made it possible for us to recognize nurses who invest in the kind of research that continually advances the practice of relationship based care, which is the heart of how we practice nursing at Shore Health System. Karen Spies exemplifies what our nurses strive for every day – providing the best clinical outcomes for our patients while promoting healing interactions among staff, patients and families.”