Celebrating Nurses Like Joel

May 01, 2017

Joel Timm, RN

Each year, the American Nurses Association designates May 6 to May 12 as National Nurses Week. At Lurie Children's, patients and families celebrate the excellence of our nurses every day.

Take grateful parent Katie Farmer, whose six-year-old daughter, Calleigh, has Type 1 diabetes and was treated in the hospital's Kenneth & Anne Griffin Emergency Care Center (ED) earlier this year. Katie, who describes herself as "the mom who can be really difficult to deal with when it comes to my baby," was especially grateful for the care provided by Joel Timm, RN, in the ED, which sees more than 81,000 patient visits each year.

"Lurie Children's is lucky to have such a compassionate, friendly and patient nurse as Joel," she wrote in an e-mail to the hospital. "Thank you, Joel, for calming me and Calleigh. We're forever grateful to you."

When Katie first met Joel, she was understandably distraught. Just that morning she had brought Calleigh to the ED from their home in Northwest Indiana. Calleigh had the flu, and Katie was concerned, because children with diabetes are at higher risk for complications, especially if their blood sugar level is too high or too low. Now, six hours later, they returned to the ED after Calleigh's symptoms worsened. Her blood pressure level had dropped dangerously low, and she was dehydrated.

"It was a potentially life-threatening situation because Calleigh's blood pressure was dropping rapidly," says Joel, who was part of a care team that included Haley Banks, RN, and Emergency Medicine attending physician Dr. Erin Augustine. "We were doing a number of interventions to raise it to avoid circulatory problems that could have led to organ failure."

When a parent brings a child to the ED, their role suddenly changes. Instead of being the one who provides for their child's care, they are turning that care over to others, and are vulnerable. Recognizing that, Joel put Katie to work. He showed her how to read Calleigh's blood pressure monitor, and to alert him if it dropped below a certain level. He also asked her to keep a tally of the number of push-pull infusions of saline solution he performed on Calleigh to raise her blood pressure.

"Joel knew I needed something to do, and it provided a much-needed distraction from the worry I was experiencing," says Katie.

After her condition stabilized, Calleigh was admitted as an inpatient, and stayed at Lurie Children's for six days to rest and regain her strength. Katie reports that her daughter, who loves to swim, read and paint, is doing fine and has had no further complications.

For his part, Joel, a former paramedic who has been a nurse for five years, is a little taken aback at being singled out for praise.

"Calleigh's care was truly a team effort," says Joel. "The nurses at Lurie Children's do an unbelievable job, and they're all passionate about helping kids. It makes me very proud to say I work at Lurie Children's."

Learn more about nursing at Lurie Children's.