HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -Pamela Punihaole can't talk about Dee Ono and the care the home health nurse provided her husband without choking up.
"She brings this sense of and I get emotional every time cause it's the sense that she brought to Clayton -- It's this true sense of wanting to take care of people," said Pamela, who nominated Ono as a Healthcare Hero.
Pamela recalls the first time Dee met Clayton -- and convinced him that dialysis was not a death sentence but just another chapter in his book of life -- which he got to enjoy with his family for another ten years.
“She’s that first light that comes over the mountain to start a new day and then she’s that light at the end of the tunnel that gives you hope,” Pamela said.
Dee says she's humbled by the recognition and the nurse of 48 years is quick instead to praise Pamela.
"She's awesome. As a friend, she's awesome. As a wife, she was extraordinary. And the same being a caregiver. Wow. She was right up there."
As for Clayton, Dee speaks fondly of the Vietnam Vet who had been diagnosed with Agent Orange Exposure, which led to diabetes and eventually kidney failure. When the fisherman and rancher passed away in 2015, Dee mourned the loss of not just a patient but a dear friend.
"I had a very strong sense of loss," Dee said. "We'd known each other and been through so much. It kinda made us in our head and heart - somewhat close together - actually a lot more than somewhat, he was one of the good ones. I truly miss him."
While Dee is now in semi-retirement, Pamela says any one still under her care is fortunate to have such a dedicated and compassionate nurse in their lives.
“You can trust in Dee, and I think that’s the key word. If you can trust in someone and believe that they’re sincere — I think that’s a bigger pharmaceutical that anyone could have,” Pamela said.