Nurse award

GIFT OF SERVICE — Natasha Lynch, center, an intensive care unit nurse at Palm­dale Regional Medical Center, was honored Thursday with a DAISY Award for exceptional service. She raised money and helped the son of a dying patient, a Korean War veteran, with the burial arrangements for his father when he did not have the financial resources to do so himself. With Lynch is ICU Director Sharon Watkins, left, and Lynch’s son Skylar, following the award presentation.

PALMDALE — Na­tasha Lynch, a nurse in Palm­dale Regional Med­ical Center’s intensive care unit, brings com­pas­sion to caring for her pa­tients and their loved ones, in one case even past the point of hospital care.

Recently, Lynch took care of a dying patient, a Korean War veteran whose son had been taking care of him for six years, but had become home­less and could not afford the burial ex­pen­ses for his father. So Lynch, the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, set out to raise money and make arrangements for his burial in Riverside Na­tion­al Cemetery.

“Veterans are close to my heart,” Lynch said, with her father, grand­father and uncles having served. “It just hurts my heart to see a patient like that.”

“It’s a disservice to our vets and it’s not a way to say thank you for their service to make them live on life support” without options for their death and burial, she said.

She was recognized Thurs­day for her “above and beyond” actions with a DAISY Award, part of a nationwide pro­gram which “rewards and celebrates the ex­tra­ordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day,” ac­cord­ing to Palmdale Re­gion­al Medical Center of­fi­cials. The hospital pre­sents the awards quar­terly, with recipients nom­inated by patients, fam­ilies and co-workers.

“Her compassion is truly outstanding and should be recognized,” said Nancy Kindschi, DAISY Award coordinator, of Lynch, who has been an ICU nurse for eight years.

When Lynch learned of the son’s financial sit­u­a­tion, she looked into what op­tions were available for a veteran, turning to her fath­er and members of the Vet­er­ans of Foreign Wars chap­ter in Quartz Hill for guid­ance. While the Vet­er­ans Administration will pro­vide a burial plot in a nat­ion­al cemetery, funds were still needed for the mor­tuary services and trans­portation to the cem­etery.

She approached the Breakfast for Vets pro­gram conducted by Des­ert Vineyard to raise the money needed, and par­tic­ipants there donated $2,200 toward the cause.

“It was really amazing to see people pull out ($100 bills) because I asked them to. They did this out of the kindness of their hearts, with­out ever meeting him or his son,” Lynch said. “I think it just shows the com­mu­nity that we live in and how we can support our vets.”

Because the patient’s re­lig­ion precluded the less-expensive cremation, Lynch worked to ensure they had the funds for a bur­ial, and found a mor­tu­ary which offered dis­count­ed services for vet­er­ans. She paid the $35 death certificate her­self, and made sure all the paper­work was in order for the Veterans Ad­min­is­tration.

Working with the VFW, they were able to bring his son to Riverside for a small graveside memorial.

“It was just a quiet bur­ial, what the son wanted,” she said.

In addition, Lynch con­tact­ed Rep. Steve Knight’s office to complete the nec­essary paperwork to obtain the patient’s Purple Heart and other medals for his son that he had lost many years ago.

“It was a learning pro­cess for me,” Lynch said. “For me, it was a lesson too, that we can help vets in the future. It’s not the first time, and probably not the last time we’re going to have someone here with fi­nan­cial problems.”

She learned there are many resources available for veterans, but many peop­le are unaware of them, and now she has the know­ledge to share.

“I am so proud of the nurses I have in the ICU. Natasha is one shining example of the kindness and compassion in the ICU,” ICU Director Sharon Watkins said. “I am lucky to have her on my team.”

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