As the longtime assistant director of surgery at Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH), Laurie Harvey has cared for her share of active-duty personnel from the two nearby military bases. But none touched her heart like the 17-year-old Parris Island Marine recruit who was rushed to the ER hours before his graduation.
Micah Wooten had just completed a long and grueling 13 weeks of boot camp training and was looking forward to proudly marching across the Parris Island parade deck on August 2 to receive his Eagle, Globe and Anchor – the official emblem and insignia of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Instead of attending the much-anticipated ceremony, Wooten found himself in the Beaufort Memorial OR being prepped for surgery for a nonlife-threatening medical issue.
“When they told me that he was going to miss his graduation, I said, well, we just can’t let that happen,” said Harvey, who has served as a nurse in the surgical unit for more than nine years.
Determined to make the day memorable for Wooten, the RN sprung into action, enlisting the help of nurses and doctors for a special Marine sendoff.
She lined up the medical staff and Wooten’s parents along the walls of the hallway outside the OR, creating a reception line. When the young private was wheeled into the corridor following his surgery, everyone began to clap and cheer as the Marines’ Hymn played from a speaker. In keeping with Marine Corps tradition, Wooten snapped to attention, straightening his back and shoulders as he lay in his hospital bed.
“I kind of felt a little pinch in my chest,” Wooten said, “because I immediately recognized the music.”
The Marine was presented with a stone cross in remembrance of the occasion and a card from the staff with words of encouragement and the poem “Don’t Quit.”
No one was more moved by the extemporaneous celebration than Wooten’s parents, who were traveling from their home in Newberry to attend the graduation when they got a call from their son’s drill instructor informing them of the medical emergency.
Overcome with gratitude for the care her son received at BMH, Missy Wooten posted the video she had taken of the hospital ceremony on Facebook, along with a heart-felt thank you.
“The staff was amazing, from the ER all the way to the OR,” Wooten wrote. “Shouting a huge ‘thank you’ from the rooftops! This mama’s heart is so full right now.”
The video quickly amassed 4,000 likes and drew the attention of the national media, including ABC’s “Good Morning America” which shared the story on its website and CBS, where is appeared as the closing story on the network’s evening news.
For her compassionate gesture, Harvey was honored last week with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, a national tribute reserved for nurses who go the extra mile to care for patients and their families. The DAISY Award was created in 1999 by a Seattle couple as a way to honor the nurses who took care of their son before he died. It has since been adopted by healthcare facilities all over the world.
Last Tuesday, hospital administrators and coworkers gathered in the surgical pavilion to surprise Harvey with the prestigious award. She was presented with an engraved vase full of daisies and a hand-carved sculpture titled, “A Healer’s Touch.”
Harvey was nominated for the DAISY Award by Carolyn Evec, Beaufort Memorial’s director of perioperative services.
“Laurie has always had a soft heart for patients, particularly those in the military,” Evec said. “But this went above and beyond. It was such a caring and compassionate thing she did for this young recruit who was missing his graduation.”
For Harvey, seeing Wooten’s reaction to the cheering reception line was all the award she needed.
“Everybody was crying, except him,” Harvey said. “He had the biggest smile on his face.”
Top Left: Russell Baxley, Beaufort Memorial CEO & president; Laurie Harvey, RN, Assistant Director of Surgical Services; Carolyn Evec, Director of Surgical Services; and Karen Carroll, Chief Nursing Officer, with the DAISY Award banner honoring Laurie.
Right: As Marine Corps recruit Micah Wooten is rolled out of surgery on August 2, he is greeted by an ovation from the Beaufort Memorial surgical staff. Laurie Harvey, RN, was honored with a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses last week for her role in arranging the celebration for the young man who had missed his graduation.