Ginger Winder loves what she does. With 20 years of nursing experience, 17 of which have been spent working at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., she understands the ins and outs of the field and the teamwork required.
From a young age, Ginger was inspired to be a nurse, both after witnessing a friend have a grand mal seizure and dealing with her own ill mother. Seeing how nurses aided in both scenarios made Ginger think she, too, wanted to make a difference like that.
And Ginger — along with her team at Children’s National — has been able to make that difference. Today, she’s the nurse lead for the Surgical Care Special Isolation Unit at Children’s National. In May of 2021, her team received The DAISY Team Award in recognition of its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unit, which was traditionally a surgical trauma burn unit, was also created to be used as a ‘decon unit,’ with location and staff well situated to care for patients who were highly infectious. Because of the infectious nature of the novel coronavirus, all of the COVID-19 patients who were receiving acute care ended up being cared for on the Surgical Care Special Isolation Unit, regardless of their diagnosis.
The effort for Ginger and her team of 70+ nursing staff to create new care models and isolation protocols wasn’t an easy one:
“It spread the team pretty thin, and it was definitely a challenge, but we came together and really worked through that and took really good care of those patients, with great outcomes.” — Ginger Winder
We recently caught up with Ginger to learn more about her team’s DAISY Team Award nomination, the importance of on-the-ground support in the nursing field, and her advice for new nurses.
What does it mean to you and others on your team to be DAISY Honorees?
As other DAISY Honorees we’ve spoken with have said, Ginger notes that being on a team that received the prestigious DAISY Team Award was an uplifting honor for everyone involved.
“The team was extremely excited, and I think it was very validating for the frontline staff to be recognized for the amazing care they provided to those patients and the amount of work that went into providing excellent care throughout the year.” — Ginger Winder
In fact, she says, recognition is key, and that’s part of why The DAISY Award® is so meaningful.
“Recognition has become really, really important in nursing and the culture of nursing. So it’s just such an honor to the team to get an award that really recognizes what they’ve done. And The DAISY Award for nurses and for the team just really lifts their spirits and reminds us of why we are nurses and what we do every day impacts patients and families.” — Ginger Winder
To Ginger, the DAISY Award serves as both a humbling and beneficial reminder: what she and her team do every day matters and has a major impact in people’s lives.
Can you speak to the importance of teamwork in this field? Are there particular ways your team supports each other?
Ginger is confident that the team on the Surgical Care Special Isolation Unit would not have made it to this point without really strong teamwork — not just between nurses, but teamwork with the physicians, respiratory therapists, lab team, and other staff. Their bond, she says, has made them even stronger and more resilient as a team throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team and how many ups and downs we’ve had over the past two years. And we still are strong and provide excellent care to our patients.” — Ginger Winder
Part of keeping this bond strong comes from taking the time to support one another. For starters, the unit has a rest and recovery room with massage chairs and music therapy, and the team tries to make sure everyone gets to take a break in that room.
There is also a ‘comfort corner’ available, provided by the Children’s National chaplains, and Ginger’s team ensures that everyone on the team gets a moment to themselves there during the shift.
From external team-building activities to regular check-ins on each person’s wellness, the team’s support is second to none. The staff even try to check in on each other throughout the shift via several touchpoints where they make sure everyone’s doing okay, and that if extra support is needed, it can be provided.
What do you wish people knew about the nursing field? What advice would you give to new nurses?
Nursing is a really impactful job, whether you’re a nurse, a patient, family, or other medical staff — that’s the message Ginger would pass along about her field.
“Even though COVID did get nursing a lot of recognition, there isn’t a lot of notoriety that comes with being a nurse, in comparison to other professions. But the impact you make on a single person’s life is enough to fill your cup, in my opinion. And I think if people recognize nursing for what it is and the compassion and commitment that we give to our patients every day, I think it gives you a perspective that’s different.” — Ginger Winder
Even after working in nursing for 20 years, though, Ginger is aware that she doesn’t know everything. The key, she says, is being a lifelong learner and being willing to learn and adapt with each new day. To nurses newer to the field, she suggests being patient, above all else.
“This is a difficult profession. There’s a lot coming at you, and it gets more complex every day. So just be patient with yourself. You won’t know everything.” – Ginger Winder
Indeed, this type of flexibility can make the difference between struggling to find your footing in a career and truly thriving in a well-streamlined team honored with a recognition like The DAISY Team Award. Congratulations again to the Surgical Care Special Isolation Unit team at Children’s National Hospital, and thank you for sharing your successes with us.
About The DAISY Award
The DAISY Award is a recognition program run by the non-profit organization The DAISY Foundation™ (an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune SYstem), which seeks to honor nurses at any stage of their careers, in any role, and in any setting.
This includes student and faculty awards, team awards, nurse leader awards, lifetime achievement awards, and even awards honoring those nurses specifically addressing social determinants of health. All of this is done in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died from complications of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in 1999 but received exceptional nursing care during his illness.
For more on The DAISY Award, please visit The DAISY Foundation’s website. Nominations can be submitted at the healthcare facility or via www.DAISYfoundation.org using Get Well’s best practice rounding tool, Rounds+. To make a nomination for a specific nurse who has provided compassionate care, complete the online nomination form today.
Read our other Get Well DAISY Honoree spotlight stories: