Brenda Spurling, RN - Inspired Comfort Award Recipient

2007 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award Top National Winner – RN Category

Award Story

RN Brings a Sense of "Home" to Dementia Unit for Veterans

Her patients may be held captive by their minds, but Brenda Spurling, a nurse manager at a hospital in the Veterans Administration Healthcare System, offers her unit's dementia patients a connection with the world outside and a comfortable, inviting atmosphere inside. For her exceptional service and innovation, she has received the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award.

Spurling is one of only 10 honorees nationwide to receive the prestigious award in 2007. It is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others' lives. This is the 5th year the leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers.

Before Spurling became the nurse manager of the Veteran's Administration Healthcare System's dementia unit, the facility had a very clinical feel, and many residents spent most of their time in their rooms or the hallways. Today, the unit is called "Pine Lodge" and it is much different because of Spurling's efforts to create a place that residents would refer to as home.

"I hope to offer veterans who sacrificed for us in the past a helping hand rather than a crutch and a direction that brings meaning to their lives and a desire to live each day to its fullest."

Spurling and her staff spent days decorating the facility by painting and hanging curtains and wall trimmings. One of the offices, now complete with a mock fireplace, has become a popular lounge area for residents. Another area resembles a barbershop. In order to make changes to the unit, Spurling ensured that her changes complied with government safety standards.

"What Brenda accomplished was hard work as well as innovative. She really broke the mold for our facility," says Jo Louise Wilkes, Spurling's colleague and nominator. "She is an advocate for our residents in every way imaginable."

Aside from her daily administrative duties, Spurling makes sure that residents are being stimulated with activities such as playing board games, spending time outdoors and with pets and even going off-site. She also created the "Festival of Lights," an event for which she arranges a Christmas lights show on-site since most residents are unable to go out into the community.

"My staff and I work toward becoming an extended family for each veteran resident. We hope to offer them a mutual helping hand, rather than a crutch, and also a direction that brings meaning to their lives and a desire to live each day to the fullest," says Spurling.

As a Top National Winner in the award's Registered Nurse category, Spurling receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2008 medical conference of her choice, an annual membership to her preferred clinical association, a $500 donation to her preferred clinical association, a crystal award and a wardrobe of Cherokee healthcare apparel. She also will appear in the nationally distributed Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award 2008 calendar.

Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 5,300 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations and grants the awards.

For every nomination received in 2007, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to national health-centered charities. The total amount was divided equally among the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the Alzheimer's Association. Since 2005, Cherokee has donated over $3,300. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, an annual calendar and the A Nurse I Am Film and Scholarship Program. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2008 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1, 2008 through May 31, 2008.

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