The New York and New Jersey area has no shortage of RNs who have made meaningful contributions to nursing. The power and potential nurses have to make a positive impact on patients and the profession was on display June 4 at the Nursing Spectrum Excellence Awards Gala at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck, N.J. Filled with more than 400 friends, family members, and guests of the nominees and Honor Your Own recipients, the hotels beautifully appointed Grand Ballroom served as an apt backdrop for the evenings events.
In addition to honorees from local facilities, 30 Nursing Excellence finalists were celebrated during this time-honored event. Compelling stories of nurses who have made true differences, be it in the community, the lives of their patients, or among their peers, were shared as the finalists gathered on stage to be recognized. At the end of the evening, the 2009 regional winners in the categories of Advancing and Leading the Profession, Clinical Care, Community Service, Management, Mentoring, and Teaching were announced.
For the winners, who go on to a national pool from which six national Excellence Awards winners will be selected, this honor is more significant than a night at a glamorous gala and a beautiful award.
From improving quality and staff satisfaction to creating new programs and working with the community to helping patients overcome obstacles, the accomplishments and efforts of each regional winner will continue to impact their communities.
ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSIONKerri Anne Scanlon, RN
Kerri Anne Scanlon, RN, MSN, ANP, Chief Nursing Officer, Associate Executive Director, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Scanlon is responsible for nursing practice, care delivery, human and fiscal resources, and for ensuring high-quality, cost-effective care, in concert with her fellow managers, to fulfill LIJs mission. She oversees a budget of about $200 million and more than 1,500 full-time employees.
A true transformational leader, Scanlon makes investing in her staff a priority, as evidenced by her shared governance approach, her initiatives to increase nursing care hours and leadership on all shifts, and to phase in a new clinical information system.
Its a complete honor that my team thought I was worthy of the nomination, she said.
Her advice to other leaders, Never lose sight that you have to do this as a team.
CLINICAL CAREJanet Allmer, RN
Janet Allmer, RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Control Nurse Manager, Infection Control Department, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Northport, N.Y.
After more than 20 years providing nursing care to veterans at Northport VA, Allmer made the transition into infection control six years ago. I didnt really know what infection control encompassed, she said. But I saw the spirit of cooperation there, to get done what needs to be done by working together.
Since then, Allmer has become an invaluable member of the Infectious Disease and HIV Screening Clinic. Among her many contributions to the VA is the development of Needlestick Injury Prevention Day. When the VA needed a regional surveillance program for early identification of MRSA on admission, Allmer facilitated a meeting for coordinators and infection control practitioners from eight regional facilities. By serving our veterans, we feel like were serving, she said.
Allmer said she is humbled by her award. Its wonderful to be recognized for the work we do every day.
COMMUNITY SERVICEMary M. Vecchio, RN
Mary M. Vecchio, RN, MSN, APN-C, OCN, Cancer Outreach: Nurse Practitioner, Community Education and Outreach, Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, Flemington, N.J.
Vecchio says she was taken by surprise by her win. I am completely humbled to represent this group of nurses, Vecchio said upon accepting her award, acknowledging the contributions of her peers who were nominated in the community service category. Her colleagues at Hunterdon, however, werent the least bit surprised. They told us theyve never worked with anyone who has such drive to succeed, not for her own gain but for those she serves.
Vecchio works with Cancer Education and Early Detection patients providing free education and screening, volunteers hundreds of hours with the American Cancer Society on Relay For Life raising thousands of dollars, is a regular on a weekly local radio show, and is active in her church, the local Moms Clubs, and Girl Scouts. She officially works only 25 hours a week. The rest of her time is spent selflessly giving to others. I grew up in a household where you were taught to give, she told the audience. When you give truly and freely of yourself, you set yourself up to succeed.
MANAGEMENTGinell Walker-Way, RN
Ginell Walker-Way, RN, BSN, MAS, Manager of Electrophysiology Lab & Cardiac Catheterization, Morristown Memorial & Overlook Hospital for Atlantic Health, Morristown, N.J.
After three years of managing two cardiac cath labs at Morristown and Overlook hospitals, Walker-Ways impact was evident in the enthusiasm of her colleagues when her name was called as the winner in the Management category. I didnt hear my name, she said. I just saw the reaction of my colleagues at the table.
Walker-Way quickly won the respect and confidence of the staff by making sound patient care and fiscal decisions. She has improved quality and physician and nurse satisfaction at both sites and saved a half-million dollars in supply inventory by expanding the lead CV tech role to include inventory responsibility, working with vendors, and setting up a purchasing committee for review and trials. Of her successes, she said, You must always be creative. Go with things that sometimes seem out of the box.
No stranger to challenges, the Six Sigma Green Belt is pursuing a second masters degree in business administration.
MENTORINGMillie Hepburn, RN
Millie Hepburn, RN, MSN, ACNS-BC, Neuroscience Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neuroscience, NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York
Hepburn provides education, mentoring, and clinical support to the staff, and is responsible for creating programs, seminars, and symposia for nurses. Mentoring is how we raise up the profession, she said.
In her drive to do just that, Hepburn created nursing neurological unit-specific competencies that led to proficiency in each area and unit. She launched a simulated learning experience to augment traditional learning, and created an online tutorial. Within a year, more than 200 nurses completed the program, and to date, 100% of nurses have accomplished the competencies, ensuring a standardized approach to patient care.
Hepburns nominator said she is grateful for Hepburns mentorship and can only hope to follow in her footsteps. Hepburns response: The best gift you can give is the ability to mentor others.
TEACHINGBeth Harris, RN
Beth Harris, RN, PMHCNS-BC, Health Education Coordinator, Nursing Education, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, White Plains, N.Y.
I always wanted to be a teacher, Harris said. Tonight I feel like a great teacher!
Active in patient education at NYP for more than 20 years, she has a special fondness for helping patients and staff fight the stigma of mental illness through education and evidence-based practice.
Harris has written or co-written more than 25 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has been a guest lecturer across the country on psychopharmacology and psycho-education.
She has helped innumerable patients recover from their mental illnesses, some of whom have gone on to become educators themselves. A great teacher learns from her students, she said.