Nurse is honored for exceptional patient care

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Going above and beyond for their patients. They save lives every day, but one local nurse took an extra step to make sure her patient's family made it through a tough time.

In April, Kaleena Tolsma had a baby boy. However, about a month later, the 32-year-old started to develop some serious health issues that sent her to the Critical Care Unit at SwedishAmerican.

Doctors found that Tolsma was developing a kidney stone that was blocking her kidney from draining. That block led to septic shock, heart failure, and total organ failure.

Tolsma was in a coma and was put on a ventilator and life support. One nurse offered to use Tolsma's breast pump to pump Tolsma for her son, who was five weeks old at the time. Today that nurse, Ginger El Brichi, is being surprised and honored with a Daisy Award, given to nurses who show special care to their patients.

"I don't do this for that kind of reward. My reward is patients getting better and going home, and that the families have the information they need to be able to deal with the situation at hand and so they have the information that they need to go home and be successful," says Registered Bedside Nurse, Ginger El Brichi.

"They helped make a really intense and scary situation a little easier for my family, and so I think that was the part that was just exceptional to me was that they saw me, not just as a patient, but as a mom," says Kaleena Tolsma.

Tolsma was in a coma for a week before finally waking up and being able to meet El Brichi. The family says El Brichi would call the hospital on her days off to check on the fire and the family has been able to continue their friendship with El Brichi long after their stay at the hospital.

El Brichi and her team pumped Tolsma every four hours while she was unconscious. Because of their care, Tolsma was able to go back to nursing or pumping for her son as soon as she woke up from her coma.