Awards, Gerber Memorial Hospital

Compassion, inspiring truths earn Watson a DAISY Award for exceptional nursing at Gerber Memorial

March 16, 2022

FREMONT, Mich., March 14, 2022 – For Charlie Watson, RN, caring for people is in his bones – and retirement didn’t diminish his passion for serving the Newaygo County community.

So, at 56, he went back to school at Montcalm Community College and in early 2021, was certified as a registered nurse. A few months into his new job at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, Watson’s compassion, empathy and inspiration earned him a DAISY Award recognizing exceptional nursing care.

The patient wrote that they had been “physically and emotionally drained for quite a while” and “just kept suffering through them.”  “Nurse Charlie helped me with my strength and stamina, which was dying inside,” the patient wrote in nominating Watson. “His pep talks put some lifelong goals back into me. I have always been a strong go-getter, always on top of my game. I don’t know when I lost this, but I did. He revived me with his truths.”

The patient said Watson constantly reminded the patient of how much life they had in them. “God wants us up and strong and healthy to be that go-getter,” the patient s

Charlie Watson, RN, recognized as a DAISY award recipient.

aid. Watson’s “words have been life-changing.”

While Watson’s path to nursing came later in life, he said his new career is, in many ways, an extension of his pre-retirement one, when he spent more than three decades as a firefighter and EMT. Retirement, he said, was something he wasn’t quite ready for.

“I love the idea of caring for people back to health,” Watson said. “As a firefighter or an EMT, I care for people on the spot, then I hand them off to the nurse and in nearly all cases, I’m not there for the rest of that person’s journey. Now I’m the nurse, I’m the one firefighters and EMTs hand their patients to, and just being able to help people get heathy and across the finish line is a blessing that I hadn’t foreseen at the age of 56. I try to share as much compassion and empathy with my patients, and I also try to help them see how much their families love them and how much inner strength each of them has.”

Watson credits his wife – and colleague – for inspiring him to go back to school after he officially retired. His wife, Ladonna Watson, RN, is herself a DAISY Award recipient, recognized in July 2018. Both Charlie and Ladonna Watson work in Gerber Memorial’s med/surg department.

As a DAISY Award honoree, Charlie Watson received a certificate commending him for being an “Extraordinary Nurse.”  The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.” DAISY Award honorees also receive a beautiful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved from serpentine stone by artists of the Shona tribe in southern Africa.

Nurses may be nominated by patients, families and colleagues, and they are chosen by a committee of nurses at Gerber Memorial to receive the award.

Alyssa Carlson was nominated by Watson for the BEE Award, which recognizes any staff member who supports patient care.

As a DAISY Award recipient, Watson nominated Alyssa Carlson for the BEE Award, which recognizes any staff member who supports patient care. In his nomination, Watson said: “Alyssa is an excellent team player. She is helpful and caring. She makes staff feel very comfortable. If they don’t know how to do something, she shows them how and does so with grace. She is supportive to the nurses and is always willing to jump in and help.”

Part of a national program, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program to recognize the super-human efforts nurses perform every day.

Nomination forms are available at nursing stations throughout the hospital and patients can submit those forms either by placing them in gray boxes near those forms or by handing them to a nurse or other hospital staff. Nominating forms will also be available at the hospital’s main lobby, as well as included in admission packets.

For more information about The DAISY Award and the Foundation’s other recognition of nurses, faculty and students, visit

Nomination forms can also be found at any Spectrum Health facility or submitted online at:

People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our long and continuing legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Our award-winning team improves health, inspires hope and saves lives across 13 counties in West Michigan. We bring together 11 hospitals—including Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, with expert care from 350+ pediatric specialists in 70+ specialties and programs—three rehabilitation and nursing centers, 120 outpatient sites and telehealth services. We are proud to work with 4,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, including Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan.