Ardis Bush, RN
Ben Taub General Hospital
Houston, Texas


Ardis Bush, RN

Nurse Manager Ardis Bush helped prevent cardiopulmonary arrests on her unit.

Ardis Bush, RN, a nurse manager who helped grant a dying man’s final wish and whose decision to train her staff to use a monitoring device resulted in fewer cardiopulmonary arrests among patients on her hospital unit, is one of two top prizewinners in the 2003 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award.

Ardis’ prize package includes a five-day Caribbean cruise for two people with roundtrip air transportation and hotel accommodations, a medical wardrobe featuring Cherokee scrubs and Rockers footwear, and a $2,000 donation to the charity of her choice.

She is a nurse manager on a 33-bed unit at Houston’s Ben Taub General Hospital where she supervises a staff of 36 who serve patients with a wide range of diagnoses, including AIDS. The inner-city hospital is the largest public hospital serving Houstonians and treats a high percentage of uninsured patients.

One of 1,000 nurses serving Ben Taub General Hospital, Ardis is described as “the personification of nursing” by Fred Sutton, MD, the hospital’s chief of gastroenterology and an associate professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. “She is driven by humanistic qualities. Ms Bush is not about money. When she discharges a patient from her unit, she knows she has done all she could do to appropriately send that patient back to the outpatient environment. When the patient smiles or says ‘thank you’, that is the remuneration for Ms Bush,” Dr. Sutton said.

An 11-judge panel of Cherokee professionals and national nursing leaders chose Ardis from the nominations of healthcare professionals representing 48 states and multiple nursing specialties.

“Ardis Bush is viewed by her peers, hospital administration and physicians as a pre-eminent patient advocate,” said Michael Singer, president and CEO of Cherokee Uniforms. “She represents the level of service, sacrifice and innovation to which nurses in the United States and around the world aspire,” he said.

Judges were impressed with the nurse manager’s willingness to meet the clinical and personal needs of patients, some in the twilight of their lives. Long hours produce familiarity with patients, and she greets each by their name and with a wide smile. “Very rarely does a nurse manager know the names of patients on their unit,” said Jimmie Anglin, RN, MSN, a professional projects coordinator at Ben Taub who nominated Ardis for the 2003 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. “Ms Bush makes daily rounds. She lets patients know they are loved and cared for, and this is so important, especially when they are at the end of their lives,” she said.

One dying patient’s last wish was to be baptized by immersion in water. Ardis obtained administrative approval to have the patient taken by stretcher to a large tub elsewhere in the hospital. There – with the family, the minister, and staff present – the patient was lowered into the water.

Concerned that some patients on her unit were having cardiopulmonary arrests without visible advanced warning signs, Ardis intervened by acquiring funding from the hospital to purchase pulse oximetry machines, then had her nurses trained to use them. Pulse oximetry measures oxygen saturation in the blood as an indicator of adequate blood flow. A decrease in oxygen saturation warns of a change in the circulation and is an early indicator of a serious problem that may be life threatening. At Ardis’ hospital, those who were responsible for performing the test sometimes were delayed by other emergencies. Her decision has resulted in early intervention and saved lives.

Ardis’ unit is one favored by hospital physicians because of the quality of care and attention patients receive. “Ms Bush coaches and mentors the nurses on her unit in a way that helps them value the patient,” said Mary Holt Ashley, PhD, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. “She develops leaders in this nursing crisis by helping nurses understand the importance of interpersonal relationships and how to identify patients’ needs and how to work and communicate with patients’ families effectively. She keeps the caring in nursing.”

Ms Bush is the most compassionate nurse I have ever met. I have often told others that if I become ill I want her to take care of me.
- Jimmie Anglin
Winner's Nomination

Ardis Bush's nomination was submitted by Jimmie Anglin, RN, MSN, professional projects coordinator, Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston, Texas:

Ms Bush is the most compassionate nurse I have ever met. I have often told others that if I become ill I want her to take care of me. She is the nurse manager of a medical unit that cares for HIV positive patients, among others. She acts as if each patient is a family member. This nurse walks around with a smile on her face and never gets angry until something affects her patients. She is truly a patient advocate, and physicians love having their patients on her unit. She was runner up in the internal nurse manager of the year program at Ben Taub General Hospital. She was nominated by a physician who affectionately calls her the "midnight nurse", as Ms Bush works all hours of the day and night to be sure that her patients are well taken care of. The work on her unit is very stressful, but she manages to keep her staff happy, and her staff retention rate is excellent. One of her nurses became very ill recently. Ms Bush ensured that the nurse and her family received food baskets for major holidays. She was instrumental in making sure the nurse was included in celebrations when the nurse was discouraged, and Ms Bush continues to make sure that she talks to the nurse frequently.

In 2002, a patient who was terminal wanted to be baptized before he died. He was unable to leave the hospital, and the minister said the patient had to be immersed in water. Ms Bush received special permission for the patient to be baptized in a tub at the hospital. This is just one example of many instances when she has advocated for her patients. Another time when she advocated for patients involved the use of pulse oximetry to identify early signs of condition changes in her patients to avoid cardiopulmonary arrests. Because the respiratory therapy department is often delayed with medical emergencies, the department sometimes cannot respond to requests for pulse oximetry as quickly as it would like. Ms Bush recognized a need. Ms Bush presented the hospital with the need, helped convince the hospital to purchase a pulse ox machine and had the respiratory therapy department train nurses on its use. Because of this initiative, the number of cardiopulmonary arrests decreased; patients are identified early and are transferred to appropriate ICU's or telemetry beds. There is no task that I have not seen Ms Bush perform, from nursing assistant to unit clerk. Ms Bush exemplifies what nursing should be about, and I salute her and hope you feel she deserves to be honored.

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