HARLINGEN — She was there.
Penny Kleeman was always there, so much so that a poem of that name was read in her honor Tuesday at the unveiling of the statue “The Healer’s Touch.”
“When a calm and quiet presence was all that was needed, she was there,” read Amy Flores, chief nursing officer at Harlingen Medical Center.
Flores read that poem in the lobby of HMC to numerous invited guests and health care officials, even to one of her sons who tuned in remotely from Central Asia where he’s currently employed. The ceremony included the dedication of the statue from the DAISY Foundation, which honors nurses.
Everyone agreed Kleeman would have been HMC’s first DAISY honoree, but she died on March 9, 2017, too soon to receive the honor, said Barbara Disbennett, RN at the hospital.
“So today we are pleased to unveil our ‘Healer’s Touch’ sculpture which will stand as a tribute to her and the extraordinary service she gave to her patients,” said Disbennett, who is also DAISY Committee co-chair.
“Going forward,” Disbennett continued, “the names of our DAISY honorees and all future honorees will be placed on name plates and mounted on the base of the sculpture.”
HMC already has four DAISY honorees whose names will soon be added to the piece.
She read the description of the piece which was inscribed on the plaque, describing how it was hand-carved by the Shone Tribe of Zimbabwe in Africa.
“The DAISY Foundation partners with the Shona people in the Republic of Zimbabwe who profoundly respect their traditional healers affectionately regarding them as treasures of the community,” Disbennett read. “The flowing and unbroken connectedness of the sculpture reminds us of the bond of care and trust that exists between the healer and the patient.”
Flores spoke eloquently of Kleeman’s devotion to her patients and everyone she encountered.
“Penny was a true picture of what a nurse should be,” Flores said. “She remembered everyone and greeted them with a smile and a friendly word. She made everyone feel important, heard, appreciated and cared for.”