For two hours, Kristin Palmquist sat in a waiting room, offering support and encouragement to a patient struggling through what was believed to be an anxiety attack or an infection involving his central nervous system.
After tirelessly working with the man and his mother to calm him, Palmquist convinced him to go to the hospital, where he was admitted.
“This care and concern for a patient and family member, with the willingness to stay with them until there was a successful resolution, is priceless,” wrote Lori Watkins, in a letter nominating Palmquist, a nurse coordinator, for her service. “Kristin exhibits this behavior in her nursing care day in and day out.”
Palmquist is the winner of this year’s Dean’s Distinguished Service Award, Washington University School of Medicine’s highest honor for staff. The award recognizes employees who excel in their job responsibilities, help create a positive working environment and improve the community.
A nurse coordinator in the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases since 2007, Palmquist assists in the care of more than 1,600 patients with HIV infections and an equal number with acute and chronic infections.
“She goes above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis to help provide world-class care,” wrote Watkins, the division’s nurse manager. “She is unflappable in her resolve, in her care and concern, and in the calm demeanor she exhibits to those in need.”
Palmquist has been known to call patients to see how they are handling their antibiotics, wound care and regimen of multiple medications.
“We only know about these calls when the patients arrive for their appointments and share with us that they couldn’t have gotten through without Kristin’s phone calls for concern and encouragement,” Watkins wrote. “Every day, in every way, she motivates and inspires all of us.”
Palmquist has endeared herself even more to her co-workers by organizing staff involvement in several 5k runs; coordinating the giving of holiday gift baskets to employees in other departments that work with her division; and volunteering with her sons to perform music for hospital patients and nursing homes residents.
Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, presented awards to Palmquist and this year’s two other service award winners at surprise gatherings last month in each of their departments.
“I feel so honored to receive this recognition,” Palmquist said. “It is a testament to the incredible people I work with here in this clinic. Every day I learn and am inspired by their compassion, dedication and the care that they give to our patients. I feel so lucky to be a part of this team.”
John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD (left), stands with award winner Julie Ritchey and Larry J. Shapiro, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.