Fort Sanders Regional Presents DAISY Award

April Mount, vice president and chief nursing officer, left, and Kim Walker, RN, right, with Makayla Whaley, RN, recipient of The DAISY Award. Whaley was honored for her advocacy and care for one of her patients, Brian Pfleger, pictured with his son, Evan.

Nurse Recognized for Advocacy, Dedication to a Special Cancer Patient

Makayla Whaley, RN, works as a bedside nurse at Covenant Health Fort Sanders Regional. She cares for surgical patients whose conditions require an overnight stay.

Whaley was recently surprised with The DAISY Award, a special recognition for nurses who go “above and beyond” in their profession. A coworker nominated her for the extraordinary care she provided to one of her patients.

Brian Pfleger, 43, of Maryville, had severe abdominal pain, liver issues and other medical conditions. He spent time in the emergency room and the intensive care unit of Fort Sanders Regional, as well as the medical-surgical floor where Whaley met him.

“He was very sick, and the outlook was not good,” Whaley says. While she cared for Pfleger, she watched him carefully until he stabilized. She talked extensively with one of his physicians about Pfleger’s plan of care and options for future treatment. “I followed my gut,” Whaley says, “I knew there was hope.”

After two months in the hospital, Pfleger was discharged home with a new care plan: to return to Fort Sanders Regional for surgery. The 11-hour procedure was lifesaving — doctors confirmed he would not have lived much longer without intervention. Pfleger then underwent a course of radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer.

“What this means to me, it’s hard to put into words. It changed the course of my life,” Pfleger says. “I was headed home facing hospice care. Knowing I could have surgery gave me a new hope and the will to live to want to keep pushing forward.”

He adds, “I was blessed to be there [at Fort Sanders Regional] when I was and to be cared for by Makayla. I couldn’t have had a better outcome.”

Pfleger recently went to Fort Sanders Regional as a visitor to help surprise Whaley with The DAISY Award. “Makayla was just awesome. We don’t have family here, but she stood by my side. She visited me when she was working different areas at the hospital and even brought stuffed animals for my son. I’m so thankful for her,” Pfleger says.

“I grow fond of a lot of patients, but he was special,” says Whaley. “You never know what someone is going through. Be sure to treat them with kindness.”

The DAISY Award recognizes nurses for the extraordinary compassionate, skillful care they provide patients and families. Anyone can nominate a nurse for The DAISY Award. For more information or to submit a nomination, visit

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