Nurses who serve in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, part of Ascension Kansas, were honored recently by a family for easing their loved ones’ final days.

Wanda Harms was a patient in the St. Francis CTICU for only two days before being transferred to Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice. But while in the CTICU, her son Ron and his wife, Gwenna, appreciated the effort and care nurses took in ensuring that Wanda’s last days were comfortable.

“Our time with the nurses in the CTICU was short, but the impact that they made on our lives was profound,” they wrote in a thank-you note to the unit.

To say thank you to staff for the ease and comfort in Wanda’s passing, some of the nurses were made honorary pallbearers at her funeral service. The nurses who had the most interaction with Wanda – Melinda, Nicole, Amber, Katelyn, Cate – were named specially to represent the unit’s efforts in providing compassionate care and service to the entire family.

“They not only treated Wanda’s needs, but also made sure that we as family members received support too,” they wrote. “Please accept our heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for all that they’ve done for us.”

Before her passing, Wanda was an organist at churches she attended, a teacher, and a dietary supervisor, and had a longtime passion for quilting. Ron and Gwenna, through Wanda’s care at Ascension St. Francis, realized that the special life Wanda lived was accompanied by the special care she received in her last days, thanks to the nurses and staff on the unit.

“Even though this was her time to leave this world, the care that both she and our family received from those who work in the unit was truly remarkable,” they wrote.

“Seeing our nurses touching the hearts of patients and their families serves as a reminder that the patient and family experience is a critical part of the care we provide,” said Carla Yost, Chief Nursing Officer, Ascension Via Christi.

Photo: Melinda Thompson, RN, from the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Via Christi Hospital St. Francis, part of Ascension Kansas.