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It's easy to see that Tony Thanphirom, RN, loves his job. When he describes his unit within our Nephrology and Dialysis Services program, his voice is filled with care and compassion. Tony joined Cook Children's in 2011 and was quickly promoted to charge nurse, which means he's the lead nurse during his dialysis unit shifts. Four years later, Tony's hard work continued to be recognized and he was named as one of Cook Children's Great 10 Nurses in 2015.
The award, established by Cook Children's in 2004, is a way to honor nurses who demonstrate excellence in the art and science of nursing. Team members submit nomination forms and essays explaining why that particular caregiver deserves the award. Every year, there are 40 to 60 nominations and the Rewards and Recognition Council at Cook Children's is tasked with narrowing it down to 10 recipients.
In the essay about Tony, he is described as a joy. His team echoes these sentiments, saying patients have positive outcomes and are successful in their treatment because of nurses like Tony.
"I was shocked to get that award. I was just doing my job," Tony said. "It's really all about the kids. We provide a service that they literally cannot live without and I'm glad the clinic received recognition through my award."
Tony's clinic focuses on dialysis, a treatment that essentially mimics what healthy kidneys should do for patients whose kidneys don't function normally. It cleans the blood that is flowing through the body and removes harmful fluids.
The population of children who need dialysis is small, as opposed to that in adult world, but their care is just as time-consuming. Each treatment can take up to four hours. Many children miss school because they have to receive treatment multiple days during the week and families often have to travel long distances.
"I wish people knew more about their struggle," Tony said. "This isn't just a moment in their life, this is the rest of their life."
While the job is rewarding, it's also challenging. The dialysis unit provides treatments to patients who have scheduled appointments within the clinic, but also serves the entire medical center. If a child is too sick to come to them, Tony and the other nurses bring the heavy equipment directly to the patient for treatment.
And being done with a shift doesn't always mean you're off duty. Often times, dialysis nurses remain on call and can be paged at any moment regarding patients who need emergency treatment.
"I want to go to work every day because I feel like I'm doing something meaningful. Not just for me, but for the kids. Seeing these patients on a daily basis allows me to form relationships with them. I get to see them grow into young adults. That's where my energy and daily motivation comes from, even when the job gets difficult," he said.
Nurse Manager Antoinette Thomas knows she is lucky to have a nurse like Tony in their department.
"He goes above and beyond for each patient he comes in contact with," she shared. "He works hard to ease the fears and anxieties of our patients and families. No matter how busy the unit is, he will take the time to discuss details of treatment with a concerned mom. Tony truly understands that each child's life is sacred."
Your generosity does not go unnoticed by others. It is emulated by those who realize its value to the community. It is revered by those who care for our patients because it enables them to do what they do best. And it is appreciated by every patient and every family who benefits from it.
Thank you from each family, patient, nurse, physician and staff member whose life you will have touched with your generosity.