Barnes-Jewish liver transplant nurse is patient’s “Guiding Light”

April 18, 2012

Martha Stipsits, RN, CCTN (left), Pam Thurston, RN, CCTN (center) and Ron Penoyer (right).

The Guiding Light was the longest running drama in television history. The show’s title came from a lamp shining in the window of one character’s house  as a beacon to guide people looking for comfort or advice.  A Barnes-Jewish Hospital transplant nurse, Pam Thurston, RN, CCTN, was honored on Transplant Nurses Day, April 18, as a “Guiding Light” for her patients by the International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS).

Thurston received the honor because an essay, written by Thurston’s patient, liver transplant recipient Ron Penoyer, was chosen as the winner of the ITNS annual essay contest. This year’s theme was “My Transplant Nurse: My Guiding Light.” 

Penoyer surprised Thurston by coming to the Barnes-Jewish Transplant Nurses Day lunch to help her manager Martha Stipsits, RN, CCTN, present the award.  Penoyer has been Thurston’s patient since his liver transplant in 2005.

“I want to congratulate Pam on the award,” said Gene Ridolfi, director of the Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital Transplant Center, after the presentation. “She does a wonderful job and deserves this honor.  I also want to congratulate all the transplant nurses and staff at Barnes-Jewish. I know how hard you all work at being guiding lights for our patients. “

“On behalf of the board of directors, I would personally like to extend my congratulations to Pam and all of the nominees–you truly epitomize the art of transplant nursing,” said ITNS board member Patti Pfeiffenberger in a news release sent out by the organization. “Your thoughtful and compassionate care has greatly impacted your patients’ lives. Transplant nursing is a calling and it is a privilege to care for transplant patients.”

Two other Barnes-Jewish transplant nurses, kidney transplant nurse coordinator Andrea Markwart, RN, CCTN, and lung transplant nurse coordinator Masina Scavuzzo, RN, CCTN, were also nominated as “Guiding Lights” by their patients.

Here’s an excerpt from Ron Penoyer’s winning essay:

I met Pam, my transplant nurse and coordinator, on one of the most difficult days of my life…. I remember when she came into the consultation room, she was smiling broadly and she enveloped me, almost instantly, in a big warm hug, as though I was a long-lost friend she had not seen in years. Meeting Pam was like returning to a home I didn’t know I had… Through it all, Pam has been my north star, a calm and steady point in an uncertain world… I don’t know how Pam does her job. I’m just grateful she does it.

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Category: Our Staff, Transplant

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  1. Robert Garison says:

    Pam is a credit to your facility and
    deserved this recognition. She kept
    us informed during the entire process
    culminating in my transplant in Oct.
    2011. We’ll always remember her
    kindness and concern during my
    recovery. Thanks to her and the entire
    team at BJMC. I feel great!

  2. judy Ferber says:

    Hi Pam, am not in the least surprised. I love you like a daughter, Love Mom Judy

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