Michelle Heil, RN wins DAISY Award Choctaw Nation Photo

Nursing staff gather to celebrate Michelle Heil winning the DAISY Award. Left to right: Jennifer Turner, Beth Brinkley, Michelle Heil, family who nominated her, Gary Lawrence, Leslie Hall, Charli Wallis, and Kelly Mings.

First Choctaw Nation DAISY Award Winners Announced

Published February 15, 2024

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA) awarded the first DAISY Awards for nurse associates working at one of the facilities. Of the 47 nominations meeting specific criteria, Michelle Heil, RN, in the hospital inpatient unit and Dan Risenhoover, RN, the Stigler Health Clinic nurse manager, were selected for the prestigious award.

The DAISY Award was developed by the wife of Patrick Barnes, who struggled with an autoimmune disease which landed him in the hospital for eight weeks before he passed away. The care and compassion shown to him led the family to develop the award for nurses who go above and beyond the routine care for their patients. DAISY stands for Diseases Attacking the Immune System and has grown into a worldwide tool to recognize exceptional nurses.

Heil was nominated by the parents of a 23-month old patient who was struggling with RSV, pneumonia, and a double ear infection. One night, the toddler’s oxygen saturation dropped drastically. Heil, even though she wasn’t assigned to the room, rushed in with the team to develop a solution to bring her oxygen level up and keep her comfortable. “She obviously cared deeply for our baby,” says the family’s nomination. “Michelle’s knowledge and skills, as well as her bedside manner and compassion were evident. We are very thankful for her.”

Risenhoover was nominated by a patient who has had numerous encounters with him over the years as well as friends and family who have experienced his kindness and expertise. The nominator recalled a time when she went in with a spider bite. Risenhoover stepped in to help the clinic treat her since they were short-staffed and busy. Another time he had her remain at the clinic after an appointment after noticing her blood sugar dropping. He helped stabilize her and the doctor even commented that he probably saved her life. His nominator said, “Dan has always showed such professional care with the highest degree of respect and modesty.”

“We are excited to bring the DAISY Award to CNHSA,” says Beth Brinkley, program administrator. “Having a platform to acknowledge our wonderful nursing staff adds another layer of recognition to the health system and one that benefits the award recipients beyond just the recognition. The DAISY Foundation has built benefits into their system that includes access to discounts for the winners for continuing education classes and nursing tools.”

Anyone can nominate a CNHSA nurse for the DAISY Award through an online form or printed forms located throughout the facilities. CNHSA will award a nurse from an inpatient unit and an outpatient unit (clinic) each quarter.


Dan Risenhoover, RN wins DAISY Award
Photo by Choctaw Nation Photo

Choctaw Tribal Council Member Ron Perry (left) celebrates with the nominator, Dan Risenhoover (holding award), and Gary Lawrence.

About The Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 225,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity.


Contact Kristina Humenesky for any media relations needs at [email protected].