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'Always a Nurse First': Methodist Nurse Practitioner Honored for Extraordinary Staff and Patient Care

From the Heart
Published: Sept. 24, 2020

Outside of work, Paige Pioppi, MSN, AGACNP-C, a pulmonology and critical care nurse practitioner at Methodist Fremont Health, enjoys riding her bike and playing piano. The wife and mother of two currently averages 15 to 20 miles every weekend on the open road and about 10 hours a week seated at her new baby grand piano.

“I bought it when I turned 50,” the pianist of more than 17 years said. “I’ve always wanted one.”

When the piano arrived in April, Pioppi thought the pandemic might actually give her more time at home to play. She was only so lucky for a little while. Because toward the end of May, her time was needed on the front lines.

Faced with the challenges of COVID-19

During the month of June, Pioppi took on the mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting task of caring for COVID-positive patients overnight.

“These people were young and gravely ill,” she said. “It was so upsetting to see so many young people die from an illness, and you couldn’t stop it. You know, trying to help a person have a good death at 2 a.m. – that’s hard.”

Aside from the constant burden of trying to figure out how to best improve every patient’s chance of survival, Pioppi saw another major challenge: She had to figure out a way to ensure the well-being and stamina of the young critical care nursing staff she was surrounded by.

“These nurses just hadn’t yet seen this level of acuity,” she said. “It was really important to me that they never felt alone.”

Honored for her sincere availability

Pioppi made sure her cellphone number was posted for the entire intensive care unit (ICU) to see.

“I told them directly, ‘I am here. Whenever you need me, I want you to call me.’ And some of them did.”

It’s largely because of Pioppi’s sincere availability that some even nominated her for The DAISY Award. She received it earlier this month.

One of Pioppi’s nominators, Jill Broekemeier, BSN, RN, wrote: “Following a rough day, it is not uncommon for Paige to reach out to staff via texting to see how we are holding up emotionally, letting us know that she appreciates all of our hard work and dedication to our patients – that she is here if we need to decompress. This simple act is so uplifting, and I feel that it builds us up to think, ‘We’ve got this!’”

Another nominator, Morgan Huddle, RN, wrote: “Being newer to the ICU and constantly working to further develop my skills and understanding, she is always there to answer any and all questions. She makes the environment around her safe and open to any question. She is always present and available to help while encouraging and providing further learning.”

While the award is meant to honor the extraordinary care of nurses, Pioppi, a former ICU nurse of nine years said, “I’m always a nurse first.”

In fact, she was nominated for The DAISY Award a couple times as a nurse.

“I never was awarded it, but I understood the nominations,” she said. “ICU nurses experience really difficult moments with families every day.”

Finally receiving the award now caught Pioppi off guard.

“It just came out of the blue. It was never on my radar. I just never would have expected that they would see what I was doing as exceptional. So, it was super emotional and humbling.”

The key to caring for others

If asked what her secret is to managing it all – providing The Meaning of Care to patients and staff – Pioppi will tell you: It’s self-care.

“I’ve worked really hard to take care of myself,” she said.

Some of the things she’s always loved to do – like cycling and playing piano – have served as her escapes these past few months. She also takes care of her body. She eats well and knows that rest and exercise are extremely important.

“You know, all those things we’re always told to do. But I think there’s just a different urgency around them now.”

And while she certainly provides quality care, she’s not afraid to receive it. During a pandemic, that’s something she thinks everyone could benefit from.

“I have a lot of close friends who recognized early on that I was shouldering a lot. They checked on me almost every day. And I let them. I let them take care of me the way I was trying to care for others.”

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Jessica Gill

About the Author:

Jessica Gill, a Content Strategist for Methodist Health System, is a former television news anchor and journalist. She has a passion for story-telling and illustrating Methodist’s Meaning of Care.

See More Articles by Jessica Gill