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Meet the Northwest Nursing Excellence Winners

Their stories are as unique as the patients they serve. Their styles vary, but these six local nurses are united by their focus on quality patient care and driven by a passion for healthy outcomes.

They have walked the hallways of their facilities, not in front of their patients and colleagues, nor in their wake, but by their sides. Between them, these nurses have devoted nearly 170 years to raising the bar in healthcare. They are the Northwest 2008 Nursing Excellence Award winners, and NurseWeek heartily joins their peers in honoring their achievements in six categories.

Kristi Klee, RN-BC, MSN

Kristi Klee, RN-BC, MSN — Mentoring
Clinical Nurse Specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Klee is proof that laughter really is the best medicine. At least, that’s what is said about her combination of guidance and support. Nurses regale that, with one quip or teasing grin, Klee breaks the tension and gets everyone on the same page. “She takes the edge off,” says one recent grad who helped celebrate the award with Klee. Klee is described as someone nurses seek out for advice, as well as self-confidence. Klee helps nurses overcome the fear that they are expected to always know what to do for patients. She also urges them to think on their feet. “Asking nurses, ‘Why do you think the patient reacted this way?’ gives them confidence,” she says. Klee also uses positive encouragement as a driving force behind her patient’s path to recovery with the words, “You can do this.” Klee fondly remembers that as a new grad in 1984, she was better able to cope during times of uncertainty with the help of her mentors. So to be given the award in the category of mentoring is “an incredible honor,” she says.

Beverly Riedler, RN

Beverly Riedler, RN — Clinical Care
Rehab Staff Nurse at Swedish Medical Center, Cherryhill, in Seattle

In June 1953, a 16-year-old man from rural Oklahoma suffered injuries from falling off his horse and became a 3-C quadriplegic. Doctors were unsure at the time that he could be rehabilitated and live a normal life. But with strong determination, a family’s love, and an organized bowel program, Dan Lindsey exceeded his doctors’ expectations — and he is alive today. He is active in his community, became a certified public accountant, and is teaching his young family members how to cook. As his sister Ann says, “He doesn’t walk, but he learned to walk through life.” His story inspired his niece, Riedler, to become a nurse. She instills her philosophy in every patient for whom she cares in the rehabilitation unit. “People need to have control to have a life,” she believes. To each patient who enters her program, Riedler cheerfully says, “Congratulations, and welcome to rehab.” She is proud of all her patients, she adds, because they all work very hard. She says her unit is special because the patients are never alone in their efforts.

Julia Munkvold, RN, MSN

Julia Munkvold, RN, MSN — Teaching
Retired in June from Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.

Nursing education has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 35 years; just ask Munkvold. She recalls a time in 1973 when course offerings were limited and it was difficult for programs in Oregon to effectively communicate new teaching methods. “There were important things to be done,” she says. Since then, she has been an innovator in this area, particularly with the development of the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education. OCNE is a collaboration of schools in the state that share a basic curriculum for nursing students. Munkvold believes strongly in OCNE because it establishes certain prerequisite standards and takes away the guesswork for students wishing to pursue their education. Munkvold also brought the first nursing simulator lab to Lane, and established the Lane County Simulation Alliance, which meets every two months to discuss the program. Munkvold breaks the mold in retirement as well — her grant-writing efforts might help ensure the education and technology future nurses need is at their fingertips.

Donna MacKenzie, RN, BSN

Donna MacKenzie, RN, BSN — Management
Urology Nurse Coordinator at VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle

Not everyone can say they received their calling at an early age, but MacKenzie believes she did. In and out of hospitals during her youth, MacKenzie’s urologist at University of Washington once told her, “When you grow up, you’ll be a urologist.” Today, she has 17 years of nursing under her belt, and she had the opportunity to thank Julian Ansell, MD, for planting those seeds of wisdom. MacKenzie says working with veterans is the most gratifying work she can imagine. She also is grateful for the nurses who helped shape her destiny as a girl. “I loved the nurses at U. of Washington. They were there for me. I wanted to be like them.” MacKenzie went on to be a candy striper in her later teen years, and eventually found her niche in nursing. She adds that the first six months of nursing were the most challenging, but her mentor Pat Henry helped carry her through.

Annie Tu, MN, ARNP, CNN

Annie Tu, MN, ARNP, CNN — Community Service
Nephrology Clinical Nurse Specialist at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle

Education is priceless. But certainly not free. Thanks to Tu, 35 children in China won’t have to struggle to find this out. For the last 10 years, she and her husband have given the gift of education to a poverty-stricken region in the Himalayans. Tu says the children write her letters, and when she retires, she and her husband plan to visit the students for the first time. As a child growing up in Taiwan, Tu wanted to help others — often pretending to be a teacher who reminded the other children to “wash your hands!” For 40 years, Tu has touched the community through various outreach programs, including her brainchild, the Kidney Early Education Program. Formed 16 years ago, this group offers guidance and support to patients with kidney disease. “If they ask questions, they feel better,” Tu says. “It’s quite inspiring.” KEEP is offered to the community, and includes 12 hours of education to participants. The classes are led by two volunteer patients who have undergone dialysis, and then a physician leads the last session to “put it all together,” Tu says.

Elaine Battuello, RN, CCRN

Elaine Battuello, RN, CCRN — Advancing & Leading the Profession
ICU Staff Nurse at Salem (Ore.) Hospital

Battuello has contributed to changing the culture of nursing at Salem. She encourages other nurses to ask, “Is there a better way?” In 20 years, she says, her patients have taught her to have a better appreciation of every minute with her own family – which includes her husband, three children, and three grandchildren. “There isn’t time to waste,” she says. Confident that nurses can be leaders as well as healers, she feels grateful nurses increasingly are owning their profession with the support of their facilities. She is proud of her facility because her superiors care about outcomes and want to hear feedback from their employees. Honored and surprised by the award, Battuello says, “If you all like what I’m doing, I guess I’ll keep doing it.”

By | 2020-04-15T15:46:25-04:00 October 6th, 2008|Categories: Regional, West|0 Comments

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