Complete, Compassionate Care is Silver Cross Nurse Practitioner’s Goal
As luck would have it, Laurie Dertz was the first patient ever transferred directly to a Silver Cross Hospital room from its Urgent Care facility on the New Lenox campus.
But the Manhattan woman’s luck actually began hours earlier on February 5 when she met Urgent Care Nurse Practitioner Nikki West, a highly qualified medical provider who thrives on making sure her patients receive the treatment they need to get well.
“She exemplifies the oaths taken as an RN,” said Dertz, 79. “God is a big part of Nikki's life, as she is one of His angels on earth.”
West said she makes sure everyone she assesses and evaluates at Urgent Care gets the services they need. “I treat each patient as if they were family, with holistic, complete care.
“And Mrs. Dertz was just so sweet. Her family, too.”
Dertz’s husband Frank and daughter, Mary Davidson, also a nurse, brought her in to Urgent Care around 2 p.m. that day. She had somehow fallen in her driveway on the way to lunch and injured her ankle badly.
Dertz was pretty sure it was broken. A surgery years ago left her immune system susceptible to bone breaks, and she’s had several since.
West said myriad X-rays confirmed a severe ankle break that would require surgery, not just the setting that could be done at Urgent Care. She conferred with a surgeon, who agreed Dertz needed an operation soon, so it was scheduled for the next day.
That’s when things got interesting. Dertz and her family already had been at Urgent Care for hours. Normally, West said, a patient to be admitted would go through the Silver Cross Emergency Room.
“Another example of Nikki’s complete compassion was the consideration of my safety during a pandemic,” Dertz said. “Instead of risking increased exposure to COVID, Nikki engineered a ‘direct admit’ from Urgent Care to an inpatient bed.”
But there was no protocol for transferring directly from Urgent Care to a hospital room, including how to get Dertz transferred. So, West created one, calling the doctor, hospital officials and transportation company to arrange it.
Within a few more hours, Dertz was in a room, more comfortably awaiting her surgery early the next day.
“Through all this, Nikki kept us apprised and calm,” said Dertz, whose nurse daughter was impressed as well.
“I cannot say enough great things about Nikki and the rest of the staff at the Silver Cross Urgent Care,” said Davidson. “Nikki truly went above and beyond to keep us informed throughout the entire process, while keeping my Mom safe and pain free.
“As an experienced RN myself, I can tell you she exemplifies everything a strong, competent, compassionate nurse should be and more. I have already told many people about the great experience we had and have recommended the Silver Cross Urgent Care!”
West said she was thankful it was a relatively quiet day at Urgent Care, and that her fellow nurse practitioner was able to handle more patients as she tended to Dertz’s needs.
After graduating to become a nurse practitioner – who is able to diagnose, treat and prescribe medications – West transferred from the Silver Cross ER to Urgent Care in March 2020.
That was the culmination, up to now, of a career that allowed her to channel the stamina and adrenalin West had burned for years as a competitive ice hockey player.
Working as an RN in the Silver Cross ER was amazing, West said. “I learned so much. I saw tragedies, and I saw miracles. You learn to appreciate life.”
Dertz said she was allowed to go home the day after surgery, after satisfying staff she could perform the necessary tasks on her own, even though husband Frank is home with her, and Nurse Mary lives a few doors down.
Several days later, recuperating at home, leg up and iced, Dertz got a call from West to see how she was doing.
“I thought that was so sweet,” Dertz said. “Then she called to thank me when I nominated her for the Daisy Award.”
West, who also earned a Daisy Award – an international award honoring nurses for skillful, compassionate care -- in 2019 for her above-and-beyond care for a 10-year-old patient at the Silver Cross ER, is flattered she was nominated again. But this is what she thrives on.
“Complete and compassionate care is what I strive to provide for each and every patient.”