Lincoln resident and local nurse Patty Deer was recently recognized for her work as the Bariatric Program Coordinator at Bayhealth-Milford Memorial Hospital with the hospital's DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

For local nurse Patty Deer, nurturing is just a way of life.

After growing up with her grandmother and aunt as nurses and seeing her work as a caregiver, Deer was constantly exposed to both the challenges and rewards of taking care of others.

While she didn’t originally plan to become a nurse, after she started her own she realized that working in the medical field and helping people through their recovery journeys was her calling.

Her dedication and deep bonds that she has made with patients through her most recent experience as the Bariatric Program Coordinator at Bayhealth-Milford Memorial Hospital was noticed not only by her patients, but her peers as well, as she was recently awarded the hospital’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award was created by the family of Patrick Barnes, a former Bayhealth patient, to recognize the compassion and kindness of local nurses, like those who cared for Barnes and his family during the last weeks of his life.

In her position, which she started about 18 months ago, Deer is responsible for guiding overweight and obese people through the steps to recovery after traditional weight loss methods fail. She helps facilitate patients through the process of bariatric surgery and recovery, witnessing some patients significantly improving their health and lifestyle choices, from losing 100 or more pounds to easing off diabetic medications.

“It’s so exciting to see people regain their lives,” Deer said. “Being instrumental in having disease resolution and quality of life improved, that’s where I get fulfillment.”

Deer has also tried her hand at respiratory therapy, intermediate care and a nurse in the operating room, but she has come to realize that her new position allows her to become a more involved part of her patients’ lives.

“There’s not the same sense of urgency, it’s a different type of nursing practice, but I have the same or better rewards because I’m starting a relationship with these patients,” she said. “It’s much more than just a day or a couple days that you get to work with people. They’re longer relationships that I’ve developed with these patients.”

And while not every case is a complete success, with a small percentage, about 2 of 10 patients ineligible for the bariatric program, Deer said she still does what she can to guide the patients she sees to a healthy, longer life.

“By the time they see me, these patients have exhausted all other options as far as weight loss. They’ve had to admit failure and defeat and sometimes they’ve given up hope,” she said. “But when they start to make progress, it’s exciting. I get to celebrate their success as well.”

Although her patients provide her with inspiration and the motivation to continue her career in healthcare, Deer credits her mother, Mary Jane Madore, as her No. 1 supporter. Deer, who lives down the street from her mother in Lincoln, said she owes her success to her mother, who helped watch Deer’s young children as she studied nursing at Salisbury University and continued to provide support and inspiration as Deer chose her career path.

“She was always right there, saying you could do it,” Deer said. “I look at her and she inspires me. I wish I could be as strong as her.”

Madore, who works as a CNA at Genesis HealthCare’s Milford Center, said it’s her daughter’s nurturing and compassionate personality that makes her a nurse deserving an award like Bayhealth’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“There are different degrees of nurses, but with her personality and her demeanor, this is a perfect fit for her,” Madore said. “She forms very personal, intimate relationships with these people going through their process. It’s nice to have that human, personal approach, and she really is so successful because she has a sense of persistence and determination that has truly paid off for her.”