Lance Sewell (L), Jackie Gonzalez (Center) with , co-workers

by Chuck Seaver, SOUTH LAKE TABLET

A career in healthcare can be a very rewarding career for the chosen few who make the medical nursing field their chosen path. A career that has ever-changing guidelines, long hours and often very little recognition or appreciation for the hard work that these unsung heroes provide to patients throughout society, every day of the year. 
One of those unsung heroes serves with deep commitment right here in our South Lake community. Jackie Gonzalez, a registered nurse for fifteen years, practices her profession in the interventional radiology unit at Orlando Health-South Lake Hospital, Clermont. Gonzalez was recently nominated and selected as a Daisy Foundation Award recipient. The Daisy Foundation was created to express gratitude for nurses by a family that experienced extraordinary nursing care for a family member who was suffering with a critical illness. The Daisy Award Foundation is recognized as the international leader in meaningful recognition of nurses. 
Nurse Gonzalez was recognized for her extraordinary care of a patient who was suffering from chronic liver and eventual kidney disease. Mark Stapelfeldt, the patient, was literally dying a slow, agonizing death when Gonzalez met him. Stapelfeldt was not pleased with the planned treatment, nor the occasional hospital stays that the disease was requiring of him. Stapelfeldt’s wife, Stephanie, who is also a member of the Orlando Health Team described Mark as a man who was giving up mentally and physically. “He just wanted to go home and let what was going to happen, happen,” says Stephanie. 
L-R: Jackie Gonzalez and Mark Stapelfeldt
That’s where Nurse Gonzalez steps into the story. Gonzalez accepted the challenge of Mark’s not-so-friendly disposition. The two had an instant connection in both communication and desire to overcome Mark’s illness. Gonzalez worked tirelessly to not only treat Mark, but also to keep the encouragement of the Stapelfeldt family positive. Countless appointments were scheduled to accommodate the family’s needs and work with Mark’s ability to endure the treatments. 
Mark eventually required a liver and kidney transplant. A transplant that was the only hope for Mark to survive and overcome his illness. Within two weeks of Mark’s anticipated death, the Stapelfeldt family received the news that had been long-awaited. Mark matched a donor and was on his way to a fourteen-hour, successful surgery that would save his life. 
L-R:Jackie Gonzalez and Stephanie Stapelfeldt
Stephanie Stapelfeldt attributes Mark’s fight to Gonzalez’ willingness to fight with him. Gonzalez provided the determination to ensure the best care possible for Mark and the best shoulder to lean on when Stephanie was exhausted. Mark occasionally visits Gonzalez and the care team at Orlando Health-South Lake which helped Mark with a new lease on life. 
Gonzalez recognizes Mark as “a miracle and a gift from God”. Gonzalez’s co-workers and supervisors recently surprised her with the Daisy Award as family and friends looked on. In humbleness, Gonzalez simply says “you don’t expect awards for doing what you love to do”.
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