Birthday Party in the ICU

There was a long-term patient in the ICU who had no hope for recovery. This was probably the best she would ever be, and it was not very good.  Things appeared dismal.  Two special ICU nurses, Leesa Pizzo and Kathy Nader truly embodied the Ambassador spirit.  Together, they planned a birthday party for the patient’s adult son (the last birthday he would most likely celebrate with his mother) – complete with cake and covered dishes that they coordinated for their peers to bring in.  Make-up, manicure, pedicure, and a pretty nightgown were provided for the patient. 

The nurses transported her with a portable cardiac monitor and even arranged with Respiratory Care to move the patient (with trach collar and all) into the former Pain Management area so that the party would not have to be remembered as being “in the ICU.”  They also went to Special Care Nursery to borrow the Polaroid camera to provide momentos for the patient and her son – later the patient’s pictures were proudly displayed hanging from her cardiac monitor.  They thought of everything. The patient and her son were very pleased, and the nurses involved displayed a touching example of how to treat the whole patient and family.

Marybeth W. Scott, BSN, RN

Director of Medical Surgical Services, Riverside Regional Medical Center


Susan Donston, BSN, RN

Nurse Manager, Intensive Care Units, Riverside Regional Medical Center

Story published in Riverside Nurse magazine, 2000