(Media release from Atrium Health Floyd):

Alliee Howell was in just the right spot when a mother with a baby boy being cared for in Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was struggling to breastfeed.

“As a new mom trying to learn how to breastfeed and trying to get his blood sugar up, it was quite an emotional time,” the mother wrote in a letter nominating Howell for a DAISY Award. “This nurse isn’t a lactation consultant, but … she helped me nurse him and encouraged me daily to not give up while I waited for my milk to come in. The extra mile that most do not take, she did.

“I instantly connected with her and believe she is the type of nurse that every parent would want their child to have,” the mom added. “My son was in great hands when it came to her! She helped take what was one of the worst experiences for my husband and me and worked beside us to help do what was best for our son.” 

As result of the nomination, Howell was named Atrium Health Floyd’s DAISY winner for September. The award honors beside nurses who provide outstanding care.

The family of Patrick Barnes established the DAISY Award after he died from an autoimmune disease while being treated in a Seattle hospital.

“What makes this award special is that the nominations come from patients and family members,” said Sheila Bennett, senior vice president and chief of patient services at Atrium Health Floyd.

Bennett presented Howell with a DAISY pin and a sculpture entitled “A Healer’s Touch.” The DAISY sculptures are hand-carved for the DAISY Foundation by members of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe.

Howell and her teammates were also given cinnamon buns, a DAISY tradition because it was one of the few things Barnes could eat while he was hospitalized.

“My little girl turns 1 year old next month, and I have actually had struggles with breastfeeding myself,” said Howell, who has been a registered nurse at Atrium Health Floyd for more than three years.

“I do try to encourage them (new mothers) because I did not have a lot of people encouraging me when I was struggling,” Howell added. “I kind of had to figure it out myself, so I try to help parents as best I can because I was also sitting in their shoes. It’s really special that someone thought of me enough to remember, and that I was able to impact their stay.”

Atrium Health Floyd offers breastfeeding and childbirth classes, lactation consultations and groups to support new moms. Learn more at