It was the Nurses Week event of all events.
A total of 160 nurses were honored May 6 at the 2009 Nursing Spectrum Excellence Awards at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia.
Among that group were 30 Nursing Excellence finalists, six of whom were named regional winners.
The event included 25 sponsors from healthcare facilities throughout the Tri-State region, plus a national sponsorship from Johnson & Johnson.
Five hundred fifty people packed the ballroom, dining at elegant tables adorned with sparkling candles and rose petals.
And, just to be sure everyone there understood this was not just any Nurses Week party, but a Philadelphia/Tri-State celebration, in marched the Mummers. The 15 members of the Uptown String band brought attendees to their feet as the crowd clapped, smiled, and strutted along to the lively sound of O, Dem Golden Slippers.
Nursing Spectrums Excellence Awards gala, held during Nurses Week, is the biggest event of the year in the nursing community.
In the May 4 issue, Nursing Spectrum announced the finalists in six categories: Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring, and Teaching. At the culmination of the gala evening, winners in each category were announced. With a musical fanfare, the six 2009 Excellence winners came to the stage to receive their awards, and cheers of appreciation filled the ballroom.Elizabeth Sheridan, RN
Advancing & Leading the Profession
Elizabeth Sheridan, RN, BSN, MA, NEA-BC, FACHE
Chief Nurse Executive and Chief Operating Officer
South Jersey Healthcare and South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center
Sheridan, who has dual roles as CNE and COO, was honored for taking on the challenge of integrating three culturally disparate hospitals into a single unified system.
For Sheridan, receiving the award was not a solitary achievement.
I am truly honored by this special award and recognition, she said. However, I need to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of my team and staff and the unwavering support of the South Jersey Healthcare board and senior management in the pursuit of nursing excellence throughout the organization.
Last year, the health system achieved Magnet recognition. Many of those same nurses who celebrated the Magnet achievement were on hand to congratulate Sheridan.
I will never forget the deep sense of pride that I saw on the faces of my team members who were able to attend the gala, she said.
Rebecca Schorn, RN, BSN, CCRN
Nurse Clinician Level 4, PICU
Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Schorn learned of being a finalist for the Clinical Care award under unusual circumstances and was hit with a flood of emotions.
I returned to work after transporting a child from Uganda who needed heart surgery to find an e-mail notifying me that I was a finalist, said Schorn, who works with the Samaritans Purse Childrens Heart Project, which transports children with heart defects from their home countries to hospitals in the U.S. and Canada for surgical repair. I was both stunned and excited.
Schorns emotions reached new heights when she was announced as the Clinical Care winner.
I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of not just my colleagues, but administrators – from senior nursing directors all the way up to the president of the entire organization – who were all in attendance to celebrate.
Having her peers enjoy the award with her was special for Schorn.
I believe this award is not just for me, but for all of the nurses at Nemours, particularly my colleagues from the PICU, who work around the clock to deliver quality patient care, she said.
Claire Alminde, RN, BSN, CPN
St. Christophers Hospital for Children
Each year, Alminde and her 11-year-old son, Patrick, organize a fundraiser called Bowling for Brain Tumors.
All money is donated to the Connell Anastasi Foundation to support brain tumor research, in memory of Patricks friend Connell, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 2. In addition, Alminde joins her work colleagues in supporting a local womens abuse shelter, bringing food, household items, and toys on a monthly basis.
This past Halloween, she organized a Halloween party for the children. Alminde also finds time to teach nursing students one day a week while pursuing her masters degree.
A certified CPR instructor, Alminde offers CPR classes, free of charge, at a local swimming club and her church. She also has raised money to buy a defibrillator for the school her children attend in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth Mil, RN, MA
Director, Critical Care Services
Capital Health System
Mil recognized the need for a highly structured orientation program for novice nurses who were entering the critical care arena – particularly telemetry. She led the unit-based educators in developing the Internship Program for Telemetry.
The program became a success and since has been expanded to the ICU, CCU, and ED. To date, 80 nurses have graduated and 81% have been retained on the critical care units.
In consideration of the high incidence of stroke in the surrounding communities, Mil launched a community education program for the stroke-prone population. She has engaged the public relations department in arranging for billboards, radio and TV interviews, often writing what is presented.
Mil has remained connected to her roots in her native Philippines and became the founder of the Pioneer Wesleyan University Nursing Organization in 1990, holding the position of president for four years. There are now five chapters in the U.S. and two in Europe.
Roberta Waite, RN, EdD, APRN, CNS-BC
Assistant Professor of Nursing
A passion for mentoring is something Waite feels came from her late mother, who also was a nurse.
[She] truly shaped my values and beliefs about the importance of taking action to help students develop to achieve their goals and aspirations, Waite said. One of the things I work hard to do is formally and informally be available to offer guidance when asked. I hope that any help that I provide will be paid forward by those who have benefited from our relationship.
To honor her mother, Waite started a nursing scholarship for a student in need, the first of which was presented in August at the National Black Nurses Association conference.
When Waite was announced as the winner, she saw the results of many relationships she has built over the years.
It was a blessing to have my colleagues, friends, and family share in this special celebration, she said.
Patricia Heslop, RN, MSN, APN, CCRN
Clinical Outcomes Manager, Cardiac Care Center
South Jersey Healthcare
Being nominated by a peer in nursing was especially gratifying for Heslop, the Teaching category winner.
To be recognized by my peers for making a significant difference in nursing just by doing what I like best was awe inspiring, Heslop said. I have been a professional nurse for several years, and to date, this has been the most exciting time of my career.
Initiatives implmented by Heslop have led to decreases in the rates of central line-related bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia, along with increased patient and staff satisfaction.
The Nursing Spectrum honor gave Heslop tremendous pride in the profession.
The event solidified my commitment to nursing and the knowledge that this is a great profession to be a part of, she said. I hope to use this milestone in my life to empower new nurses to be patient advocates and accept nothing less than quality care for patients.
Donna Novak, RN, MSN, CRNP, is Director, Nursing Communications & Initiatives for Nursing Spectrum.