Making meaningful memories: One nurse’s visit to a Minnesota grave

What wasn’t a big deal for Kaitie Luitjens, RN, BSN, made a world of difference for one patient unable to attend a family member’s funeral.

Luitjens was visiting in-laws in the same Minnesota town where the grave of her patient’s family member was located. Luitjens made a slight detour to snap a photo of the grave for her patient, since they were unable to attend the funeral in person.

“Kaitie’s actions touched me in so many ways,” wrote the patient in Luitjens’ DAISY Award nomination form. “It doesn’t seem like a ‘thank you’ is enough. I wanted Kaitie to know her kindness will never be forgotten by me or my family.”

Support system

In the Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program, patients often spend four or five weeks recovering in the hospital—giving the nurses plenty of time to build relationships with their patients.

“I think our floor is special because our patients are here for so long,” says Luitjens, staff nurse. “Our patients and us really depend on one another; we become each other’s support system.”

Interacting with them for so long, Luitjens says she gets to have meaningful conversations with those she cares for.

Kaitie Luitjens
Kaitie Luitjens, RN, BSN

“You can tell when patients finally start to let their guard down and open up,” she says. “Being there to help them acknowledge and process those emotions is truly special.”

The UI Health Care difference

Like so many others, Luitjens recognizes the advantages that UI Hospitals & Clinics can offer to its patients.

“The fact that our patients can receive each aspect of their treatment from start to finish here is wonderful,” she says. “Whether it’s pre-transplant, the transplant itself, or the post-transplant recovery, they can do it here if they choose to.”

Beyond the services we provide, Luitjens says it’s the attitude our staff embody that makes the difference.

“In nursing, and especially on a floor like this, you’re always learning,” she says. “No matter how long you’ve been here, there’s always something more you can learn, and we embrace that.”