Benefis Nurse Honored With DAISY Award for Outstanding Care in Orthopedics

At the grocery store and elsewhere in the community, former Benefis Orthopedics patients come up to Michelle Lake to show off their knee flexibility.

“There are a lot of meaningful relationships you develop with patients,” she said. “It’s great to see patients get better and get out there again.”

Michelle, a patient navigator, is Benefis' latest winner of the DAISY Award, an international recognition of extraordinary nurses. Benefis presents the award quarterly. 

Michelle has been with Benefis Health System for seven years. She educates patients ahead of surgery, rounds to make sure they have what they need in the hospital, and organizes follow-up physical and occupational therapies, as well as making sure they have any equipment they need when they get home. 

“Every patient, even if they’re all getting new knees or hips, has their own story and experiences,” she said. “Surgery changes their lives. You see they were able to go hunting with their kids for the first time in 15 years, for example.”

Dan Groux, manager of Provider Practices, praised Michelle's compassion for patients and the helpful way she shares her wealth of nursing knowledge with her colleagues. She "goes above and beyond for her patients and team members."

Michelle combines clinical excellence with compassion​ and devotion to the field of nursing, added Carol Flood, a patient navigator who nominated Michelle for the award.

"She personally rounds on all the patients who undergo total joint replacement and is a consistent presence and advocate for patients who go through this major surgery," Flood said. "Michelle has met patients over her lunch to change dressings, replace equipment, talk through anxieties, perform patient and family education, and just about anything else that they need."

Michelle helped revamp a class for total joint patients to help them learn what to expect before and after surgery. She helped launch a spine class, developed from scratch and adapted for COVID-19 precautions. Michelle has helped streamline and otherwise improve the process for orthopedics patients. She tackles complex post-surgery issues and smoothed the way for out-of-town patients. She also has been able to help patients out of abusive home situations. ​

“This role is really fulfilling," she said. "When I see something in the process that needs to change, that’s something I can do. We’ve made the whole experience better and made sure people are supported through the process. This is a really neat job.” 

Michelle has a background as an accountant and optician, and then decided on a career change and followed in the footsteps of her grandma, Lorraine, also a nurse. Michelle began as a heart nurse but had her eyes on a clinical position. 

“What appealed to me was the difference I could make and the lives I could improve,” she said. “Instead of hands-on care for four people a day, I would impact 300-500 patients a year.” 

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognizing nurses and the incredible care they provide. The foundation was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at age 33 from an autoimmune disease. More than 4,500 healthcare facilities and schools of nursing present DAISY Awards. 

To nominate a Benefis nurse who has touched your life for a DAISY Award, visit


Meet our other DAISY winners:

COVID Patient’s Family Honors First Benefis DAISY Award Winner

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