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Beacon nurses surprise hospitalized nursing student with emotional pinning ceremony

WNDU anchor Joshua Short helped us capture a special moment between two Beacon Granger Hospital nurses who went above and beyond for a nursing student who missed her pinning ceremony. Kasey Wernlund, who was hospitalized for a life-threatening illness, recently returned to Beacon Granger to surprise and thank the nurses who cared for her. Click on the photo below to watch this touching story on WNDU. Kasey’s story is below.

Click on the photo to watch the WNDU special report.


Kasey Wernlund is grateful to be alive.

She was admitted to Beacon Granger Hospital with flu-like symptoms on a Saturday evening in late April. She was suffering intense nausea and vomiting, body and neck pain and a fever. The results of CT scans, an MRI, ECG monitoring and blood work revealed it was not the flu.

Kasey was diagnosed with sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and in some cases, death.

“Hence why I was scared,” Kasey says.

Sadly, she would miss a very special day in her life while she was recovering in the hospital: her pinning ceremony. Kasey has been wrapping up her last semester of nursing school at Ivy Tech Community College, working toward an LPN.

Enter Kendall Klaer and Payton Fell — her full-time nurses and part-time guardian angels.

When Kendall and Payton learned their patient would miss her pinning ceremony, they jumped into action.

“After enduring the stress of nursing school, the pinning ceremony provides a time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished and worked so hard for,” Payton says. “The fact that she could possibly miss it didn’t sit right with me.”

So the two devised a plan.

They created a special certificate that read “Certified patient of BGH Room 104” and ordered a pin online. “I figured if she got discharged and got the chance to go to her own pinning or had to stay and have a personal ceremony put on by her crazy nurse, at least she’d have a pin and a good story,” Payton says.

They printed a copy of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, picked up a flower bouquet and gathered their coworkers and managers together for a surprise on the very evening of the ceremony she had to miss. Kendall had to hold back tears as she placed the pin on Kasey’s hospital gown.

“They said they wanted to celebrate all of my hard work and pin me,” Kasey says. “It meant the absolute world to me.”

Weeks after she left the hospital feeling healthy again, Kasey wanted to thank Payton and Kendall. And she, too, hoped it to be a surprise. And it was.

The reunion was emotional for all three nurses.

“It was an honor to be pinned by both of you, and you guys both deserve so much recognition,” Kasey told her Beacon nurses, as they all wiped away tears in an emotional moment that was captured on camera by WNDU. “You guys are amazing nurses, and you are a huge inspiration to me. So, thank you.”

She adds, “Payton and Kendall showed what nursing is all about. I will remember this experience for a lifetime and will pay it forward when I become a nurse.”