“We are their lifeline to the outside world.”

“We get to actually know the patients. We get to know their family members. We get to hold hands. We get to laugh. We get to cry. This is what I was meant to do, for sure.”

Chris smiles while holding a clipboard and listening to another nurse talk to him.
“There’s ten of us who work every Friday and Saturday night, and we are a family.”

Life for a nurse can be demanding, and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMT) is no different. Typically, patients in this unit are immunosuppressed, unable to leave their room for weeks. While many patients’ family members frequently stop by, they still spend a lot of time alone, especially at night. It’s during these times of loneliness that Chris Lewis, a nurse in UK HealthCare’s BMT Unit, steps in.

Close up of the Darley Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit entrance plaque.
“These patients are here for months sometimes, so we are their family before they go home.”

“We care for them when they’re at their worst. A lot of times, we are the person who they depend on. These patients are here for months sometimes, so we are their family before they go home,” said Chris.

Chris reads an EKG monitor screen in a patient's room.
Chris splits his work between the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and the Emergency Department.

Health care has always been a calling for Chris. As a teenager, he was able to witness the high level of effort and care when his grandmother was hospitalized at UK HealthCare. He saw the positive impact that a caring nurse can have on a patient, and it’s something he never forgot. “It’s a privilege for me to give back and to be that nurse for the patients.”

A close up of Chris's RN ID badges and DAISY award pin.
One of Chris’s fellow nurses nominated him for a DAISY Award, symbolized by the pin on his name tag.

But Chris is doing more than simply giving back to his patients. He gives them his all, making sure they’re comfortable and calm in even the worst of circumstances. His attention to detail has not gone unnoticed: in 2017 he was a DAISY Award recipient, nominated by a colleague who saw him go above and beyond with a patient..

Chris’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing, awarded in 2017. A brown, curving, abstract sculpture of two figures that might be interpreted as one large figure helping a smaller figure.
Chris’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing, awarded in 2017.

“We had a patient who had been in and out of restraints and didn’t know where she was. She didn’t have family to visit her either. I walked in one night and found her confused, so I turned on music for her, grabbed another friend and we gave her a manicure and pedicure, cleaned her nails up, and took care of her three or four days in a row to make her feel more comfortable,” said Chris.

Chris focuses intently while reading information on his computer.
“The patients and family members stay with you. Not a lot of careers can say that.”

The qualities that make Chris excel at his work—his dedication, his outgoing and caring personality, and his ability to handle many different demands—are echoed in his personal life. He and his husband are raising two teenagers: managing school schedules, cheerleading competitions, and life with four dogs. Despite the demands of Chris’s job, he always prioritizes time to spend on family trips.

A framed photo of Chris and his husband in front of Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life, and a second framed photo of his two teenaged kids.
Both in and out of work Chris stays busy, raising two teenagers with his husband.

Even with the sometimes-chaotic nature of life in the BMT, Chris finds ways to help his fellow nurses. He serves as the co-chair of the BMT’s Staff Empowerment Committee, making sure that morale is high among the nurses and care techs so that they can give their patients the best care as a team.

Photos pinned to a decorated cork board. One is of Chris with two other nurses with a "Proud to be a nurse. Nurses week 2019" graphic printed on it.
“We do things outside of work together. We help when others are having a difficult night. It's a special bond.”

“Nurses are the most compassionate, caring people. We are the ones who are at the bedside when no one else is available. We are the ones who help the patients with basic, daily needs. And we love to do that. It’s wonderful to be a part of this grand scheme of UK HealthCare and know that we get to touch the patients’ life on an individual level. It’s just an awesome job.”

Chris smiles brightly while wearing his blue nursing scrubs.
“I love this. This is definitely what I’m supposed to do.”

Learn more about the care that comes from nurses like Chris at UK HealthCare’s Markey Cancer Center. 

Portrait of Kylee TysonTodd takes a seat in some gymnasium seating and smiles with a basketball resting on his knee.