TGH OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST DANIEL HERNANDEZ RECEIVES CAREGIVER OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM FLORIDA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION

Published: Oct 26, 2012
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Daniel Hernandez, Caregiver of the Year Award

 

October 26, 2012 (Tampa, FL) - Daniel Hernandez, an occupational therapist in the Regional Burn Center, is a MacGyver of sorts – when he sees a patient’s need, he finds creative ways to make devices out of various materials to assist them. For his ingenuity and years of dedication to his patients, Daniel received the 2012 Florida Hospital Association’s Caregiver of the Year Award during the organization’s recent annual meeting in Orlando. The award honors an individual who provides outstanding patient care and exemplifies commitment to quality patient care. Daniel has a very creative mind and is able to look at something that’s needed and create something to fix it, said his supervisor, Mary Garand, manager of Hospital-based Rehabilitation Services, who nominated him for the award. During his 17 years at TGH, Daniel has developed a long list of handy tools for his patients. He built a leg rest out of plastic pipe and cloth mesh, so patients with cultured skin grafts can elevate their legs. The cloth mesh allows air to circulate around the grafts to promote healing. When a burn patient was unable to bend his elbows, Daniel purchased a small pipe at Home Depot and welded it to a fork to create a long-handled utensil, so the patient could feed himself. Burn patients are also often fitted with Daniel’s custom cheek protector inserts that he makes out of a non-porous rubber-like material. The protectors are inserted between a patient’s cheek and the strap that holds their endotracheal tube in place. The strap’s constant pressure on the facial skin and ears can cause the skin to break down and sores to develop, he said. The inserts decrease that pressure and protect the skin, allowing it to heal. He also developed a similar insert to protect the ears. “We’re talking about the face. It’s a big deal to the patient,” said Daniel. Pressure sores can also add thousands of dollars to a patient’s hospital bill, he said. “He’s like a handyman for Occupational Therapy,” said Mary, who named one of his inventions “Danny Donuts.” The devices, made of soft, gel material, cushion the back of the head to prevent skin breakdown, she said. The “donuts” are so helpful that many of the hospital’s Intensive Care Units request them for their patients too, she said. “They come in sometimes, and it’s as bad it gets,” Daniel said. “Then you see them progress in a short time,” he said. “I keep working with them, so they are functional again. That’s progress.” Daniel also trains other TGH Occupational Therapists, lectures at the University of South Florida’s school of Physical Therapy, and provides guidance to caregivers who treat war veterans at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa. TGH Occupational Therapist Daniel Hernandez, fourth from left, received the 2012 Florida Hospital Association’s Caregiver of the Year Award recently for his dedication to caring for burn patients. Also pictured are from left to right: Janet Davis, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Steve Short, executive vice president and CFO; Michael Daniels, director of Rehabilitation Services; Daniel Hernandez; Mary Garand, manager of Hospital-based Rehabilitation Services; Cheryl Eagan, senior vice president of Support Services; Deana Nelson, executive vice president and COO; and David Robbins, vice president of Professional Services. Pictured above are: TGH Occupational Therapist Daniel Hernandez, fourth from left, received the 2012 Florida Hospital Association’s Caregiver of the Year Award recently for his dedication to caring for burn patients. Also pictured are from left to right: Janet Davis, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Steve Short, executive vice president and CFO; Michael Daniels, director of Rehabilitation Services; Daniel Hernandez; Mary Garand, manager of Hospital-based Rehabilitation Services; Cheryl Eagan, senior vice president of Support Services; Deana Nelson, executive vice president and COO; and David Robbins, vice president of Professional Services.