As part of National Nurses Week, Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg held its quarterly DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses ceremony in front of the hospital’s chapel early Wednesday morning, recognizing and honoring nurses for outstanding patient care.

Nurses are nominated for the DAISY Award by their patients and patients’ families for exemplary service. The forms, which are voluntary to fill out, are available in every patient room in the hospital.

This quarter, Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg recognized 59 nurses and eight nursing teams who received a cumulative total of 153 nominations for the award.

The recipient of the DAISY Award this quarter was Jessica Rhoten, a registered nurse of 14 years who works in the hospital’s labor and delivery department and received five nominations for the award.

“I’m speechless,” Rhoten said. “Being recognized isn’t why we do the work, but it’s nice when it happens. I’m really lucky and truly blessed to have a job that I love, where I can’t wait to come to work every day.”

Originally from Maryland, Rhoten said she worked in medical sales “for a really long time” before she decided to attend nursing school. She said she then spent time working as a “travel nurse” before moving to Texas.

“We’ve been in the East Coast, we’ve been on the West Coast, we’ve been pretty much everywhere,” she said. 

Rhoten moved to Kingsville in February with her significant other, Brad Quigley, who is attending Texas A&M University-Kingsville for a degree in agriculture. She said when she interviewed with Christus Spohn Kleberg, she “immediately fell in love with everything here.”

During Wednesday’s award ceremony, Chief Nursing Officer Laci Lasater read an excerpt from one of the patient nominations that Rhoten received this quarter. The patient wrote about her experiences after her baby was born and she was preparing to give it up for adoption.

“I was emotional, and (Rhoten) continuously checked on me and was there to talk with me about how I felt through the process,” the nomination read. “She approached the situation with honest care and comfort.

“It was something that was extremely hard for me, but having her there to talk to me through it all, and talking about her personal stories, made me feel better, and reminded myself why I was doing what I did.”

Rhoten said the patient had “touched my heart,” and told her about how she herself had been adopted as a baby.

“I wanted her to understand that (adoption) isn’t a horrible thing,” she said. “And it was an open adoption, so both the adopting parents and the birth parents were here.

“So seeing both sides of that, and being happy for the (adopting) parents who were extremely excited about having their first and only baby while (the birth mother) was grieving, it’s really emotional.”

Rhoten said she “started to tear up” as soon as Lasater began to read the letter.

“I remember her, and she’s always going to have that special place in my soul,” she said.

Honorable mentions for the quarterly DAISY Award were LVN Mindy Garcia (Med-Surg) and RN Raquel Vela (ICU).

Two annual awards were also presented during the ceremony recognizing the hospital’s exceptional clinical nurse and nurse leader. Unlike the DAISY Award, which is based on nominations from patients, these awards came from nominations from hospital staff and administration.

This year’s Clinical Nurse of the Year was Sonia Cortez, an RN with the ICU at the hospital. Born and raised in Kingsville, Cortez has been a nurse for 18 years and spent most of her career with Christus Spohn Kleberg.

Departmental nursing awards went to registered nurses Cortez (ICU), Jessica Webb (Med-Surg), Cheyenne Vasquez (Labor and Delivery), Brenda Nix (Surgical Services) and Jun Rocaberte (Emergency).

House Supervisor and RN Cecilia Sears was named this year’s Nurse Leader of the Year. Sears, who is semi-retired, will be celebrating her 40 year anniversary with Christus Spohn Kleberg Hospital at the end of this month.

Nurse leaders presented each nominee for the DAISY Award a certificate, a small daisy pin and a bouquet of daises. They were also treated to a cinnamon roll breakfast.

At the start of the ceremony, Mayor Sam Fugate read a proclamation recognizing this week as National Nurses Week. Started in 1999, the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Award and Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he died from complications of the autoimmune disease idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP.

After his death, the family appreciated the care shown to Barnes by the hospital’s nursing staff and created the foundation and award to as a way to recognize honor them.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at or (361) 221-0251.

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