HSHS St. John’s Hospital Honors Two Nurses for Care They Provided to Retired UFC Fighter Matt Hughes


On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, many members of the HSHS St. John’s Hospital medical team gathered with former UFC fighter Matt Hughes and his loved ones as they honored two nurses with a special award in a private ceremony that took place on the hospital campus. St. John’s cared for the Hillsboro native after the automobile he was in was hit by a train; Hughes was immediately airlifted to St. John’s on Friday, June 16, 2017.

Matt, his wife Audra, their daughters Hanna and Katelyn and friend Tony Zucca, came to St. John’s on Tuesday to honor two special nurses and show their gratitude to the medical team.

Zucca nominated two nurses, Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson, for the DAISY Award. It is a national award honoring extraordinary nurses that is awarded to one nurse each month at St. John’s. Hull and Simpson were selected as the DAISY Award winners for October and November 2017. They are both nurses in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. John’s.

In the nomination, Zucca wrote, “I am writing on behalf of the Matt Hughes family. Matt was in a terrible accident on June 16, 2017. He was airlifted to St. John's and admitted to the ICU. As with any tragedy, emotions and confusion ran high. Ashley Hull and Megan Simpson were blessings in the middle of a nightmare. While everyone at St. John's was wonderful, these two nurses simply went above and beyond and brought as much peace and calm to our lives that was humanly possible. They were extremely patient and knowledgeable with our countless questions; they would bring coffee when our eyes couldn't stay open a minute longer. And the professionalism they displayed instilled confidence in us in that we knew Matt was in great hands. They are masters of their craft and the most caring nurses I have ever encountered. Matt has a long road ahead of him, and I can say with certainty that the family wishes Ashley and Megan could stick with us every step of the way. St. John's should be proud of employing people of their caliber.”

Matt and Audra Hughes wanted to show their appreciation for these nurses and the rest of the St. John’s medical team for helping Matt in the biggest fight of his life. Matt said thank you to both of nurses, hugged them and handed them their awards on Tuesday morning in Springfield at a private ceremony. “My family and friends have told me that the entire team at St. John’s was really good to me and all of them,” said Matt Hughes. “It means the world to me. Thank you all so very much.”

Hull has been a nurse for about eight years. She grew up in central Illinois, watching Hughes fight in his UFC days. “Words couldn’t begin to describe the emotions I felt as I accepted the DAISY award from the Matt Hughes family and Tony Zucca,” said Hull. “Being able to be a small part of Matt’s miraculous recovery is nothing short of amazing. Matt, Audra, Tony and the rest of his family and friends are all an inspiration to me, and the absolute perfect example of why I became a nurse. Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough. I am honored and humbled to have been his nurse.”

Simpson has been a nurse for a little more than two years and commented at the ceremony that Hull is someone she greatly looks up to as a nurse. She was flattered to receive this award alongside Hull. “Being a nurse means stepping into the lives of strangers and allowing them to lean on you in their darkest hours,” said Simpson. “It is a great honor that Matt’s family and friends trusted me to care for him. Accepting the DAISY Award from the Hughes family and Tony Zucca is something I truly will never forget. Seeing Matt healthy and thriving is exactly the reason why I love being a critical care nurse.”

“We are very proud to have Ashley and Megan as nurses here at St. John’s,” said HSHS St. John’s Hospital President and CEO Charles L. Lucore, MD, MBA. “They exemplify our mission of embodying Christ’s healing love through our high quality Franciscan healthcare ministry and demonstrate our core values – respect, care, competence and joy.”

Everyone who attended the ceremony from St. John’s was very impressed to see the remarkable recovery Hughes has made over the past several months. Hughes spent several days at St. John’s before transferring to a facility outside of Springfield.

Lucore surprised the Hughes family with a gift and an award at the private ceremony.

“We wanted Matt and Audra to have the crucifix that hangs in each of our patient rooms,” said Lucore. “We know you often spent time praying in Matt’s room at St. John’s with family, friends, your pastor and our colleagues. We hope it reminds you of all of the prayers that have been said and will continue to be said for Matt on his road to recovery.”

Hughes received the HSHS St. John’s Superhero Award for turning a setback into a comeback. His strength and healing power have proven to be quite extraordinary. He is our hero!

Photos and a video from the ceremony are available for the media’s use on the HSHS St. John’s Hospital Facebook page, www.facebook.com/StJohnsSpringfield and on this page. 

For more information on the DAISY Award that Hull and Simpson received, please visit: https://www.daisyfoundation.org/daisy-award.


About HSHS St. John’s Hospital HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Cancer Center, Orthopedic Services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.

About Hospital Sisters Health System Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.
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