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Florida Finalists Chosen for the 2010 Nursing Spectrum Excellence Awards’ Community Service and Management Categories

For more than a decade, Nursing Spectrum’s Nursing Excellence Awards program has recognized the extraordinary contributions Florida-area nurses make to their patients, each other and the profession. This year, nurses from the Florida region came forward to tell us about these heroes of nursing.

The grateful peers of these exceptional nursing professionals sent detailed nominations for Nursing Spectrum’s 2010 Nursing Excellence Awards. The nominees include staff nurses, specialists, nurse practitioners, vice presidents and nurse executives who work in settings as disparate as occupational health, education, intensive care, cardiology, med/surg and pediatrics. No matter what the role or setting, these nurses have found ways to raise the bar for their peers and the quality of life of their patients. Nursing Spectrum hopes their stories will inspire all of our readers to reach for excellence.

From the many tributes we received for this year’s program, we narrowed the competition to three nurses in each of six categories, for a total of 18 finalists.

The categories included:

RNs who have made contributions that advanced and strengthened the nursing profession or the delivery of patient care. These nurses have made broad-reaching contributions that affect the entire profession rather than a single organization.

RNs who demonstrate excellence in direct-care delivery in any clinical setting. This category celebrates nurses who work directly with patients and their families.

RNs who have made significant professional or voluntary contributions that improved patient care. These nurses have helped their community either as part of their jobs or as volunteers.

RNs who have demonstrated exceptional management of nursing or patient care services in any setting. This category honors managers who have a talent for developing successful employees and systems.

RNs who provide a positive professional influence, guidance, and support of other nurses in any setting. These nurses have cultivated relationships that foster the development of their nurse colleagues.

RNs who have made significant contributions in education, professional development and/or long-term learning of nursing professionals.

Here are the finalists in the Community Service and Management categories:

Karen Sondregger, RN

Community Service

Karen Sondregger, RN
Director of Quality and Patient Safety
Bayfront Medical Center, St. Petersburg

Nominated by: Maggie Crawford

In her 30 years at Bayfront Medical Center, Karen Sondregger has held many leadership roles and consistently stepped in when there were vacancies in leadership positions that support nursing and patient care in the facility. She has not only led critical care, but also case management. She also has spearheaded nursing committees and evaluated and developed the electronic medical record process within the organization. Sondregger is a great mentor to new leaders within the organization, whether or not they report to her. She is active with organ donation activities at the hospital and in the community. When one of her managers was battling metastatic lung cancer, Sondregger organized a team of employees within the organization to participate in fundraising activities with the American Lung Association.

Martine Vedrine, RN

Martine Vedrine, RN, BSN
Staff Nurse
West Boca Medical Center, Boca Raton

Nominated by: Diane Voss

Patients and their families frequently send letters commending Martine Vedrine, not only for her clinical knowledge, but also her caring and compassionate care. Vedrine’s coworkers praise her as a team player. Vedrine goes above and beyond, even attending the funerals of past patients. Vedrine is active in a local church. It is there that, for the past 24 years, she has taken on an array of responsibilities, from teaching Sunday school to chairing the mission committee. Last July, Vedrine, a physician and a few others assisted with physical exams for about 155 children from the local orphanage. Vedrine participates in the women’s group that assists sick people in need. Group members help by cleaning a person’s home, making doctors’ appointments and praying.

Samir Klapuh, RN

Samir Klapuh, RN
Clinical Coordinator, PCU
Edward White Hospital, St. Petersburg

Nominated by: Kim Eaton

Samir Klapuh is a refugee of the Bosnian war. He came to this country penniless and without a support group. Only a nurse for four years, Klapuh has already shown that he is a natural leader, gaining the respect of all members of the multidisciplinary team. Klapuh was promoted to clinical coordinator two years ago. Physicians seek out Klapuh to work in their practices. Everyone recognizes Klapuh’s commitment to the profession. At times, he comes to work on his off shifts to help out with staffing needs and to make sure staff members feel valued and respected. He goes above and beyond to help patients. Before joining Edward White Hospital, Klapuh worked with Catholic Charities, assisting refugees in getting the information they needed and in rebuild their new lives. He is a ray of hope to those whose lives have been torn apart by genocide and war. Klapuh is known in the Bosnian community as a valuable resource. He has translated medical transcripts for patients at other medical facilities who do not have English records. Klapuh will even attend medical appointments with individuals who have difficulty with English to provide translation services.

Sylvia Conlee, RN


Sylvia Conlee, RN, MSN, CPN
Nurse Manager, Children’s Services
Coral Springs Medical Center, Coral Springs

Nominated by: Perla Bueno

A strong clinician and manager, Sylvia Conlee recognized the need for Coral Springs Medical Center to provide more services to patients and implement best practice standards. She recommended and implemented protocols for rapid response, sedation, seizure, sepsis, pediatric standard dosing, pediatric standard concentrations and more. Conlee is a strong patient advocate and strives to provide the best care by making sure available equipment is appropriate for pediatrics. She collaborates closely with the child life specialist, who she worked with to initiate a new patient (including teen patients) play room. Conlee works with specialty physicians of all areas to promote best practice standards in the delivery of care. Overseeing an annual budget of $5 million might seem challenging, but Conlee has been able to develop a strong pediatric team that works in unison to provide the best care to patients. Conlee helped to build a cohesive team by providing extensive teambuilding workshops. She has promoted cross-training within children services so staff could develop clinical skills in other areas. Conlee promotes further education for all staff and continually challenges them to strive for excellence. She also is able to elicit their participation in unit-specific activities.

Debbie Pusateri, RN

Debbie Pusateri, RN, MSN
Vice President, Critical Care Services & Emergency Services
Florida Hospital, Orlando

Nominated by: Monica Niece-Dechau

Whether Debbie Pusateri is involved in dialogue with nursing teams or in the boardroom advocating for nurses, she connects with and seeks input from the frontline staff. Her nursing teams respect her because of her willingness to get in the trenches with them. When the facility implemented an electronic health record, Pusateri enrolled in training classes, even though her position did not warrant it. She enrolled because she could not expect those who worked for her to do something she was not willing to do. Pusateri’s drive for clinical excellence has played a major role in the success of the organization. When tasked with challenges, Pusateri has an uncanny ability to identify the barriers, as well as the roots of those barriers. She collaborated with physicians to pilot a rapid response team at the facility. Indicators of the team’s success include a continued increase in utilization by staff (most recently, a 35% increase in calls and a 10% decrease in codes outside of the ICUs). A visionary, Pusateri has spearheaded the creation of the image of nursing at Florida Hospital. She had the idea of a nursing journal that highlights nursing staff, which has been a great driver for engaging nurses. In addition, all communication forums were stylized to carry the nursing image, including emails, letters, thank-you notes — even power point presentations.

Jean Turcotte, RN

Jean Turcotte, RN, MA, CCRN, CSC
Administrative Nurse Manager, CVICU
Florida Hospital, Orlando
Nominated by: Monica Niece-Dechau

Jean Turcotte senses the needs of the staff by having an open-door policy and make himself available 24/7. Turcotte’s true passion is for patient care. At the bedside, he is kind, caring and compassionate. He often cared for the sickest patients in the unit and did so with a gentle touch, while providing them with outstanding clinical expertise. Turcotte has been known to put on scrubs and help at the bedside when there is a staffing shortage or when the acuity of the unit is extremely high. He responds to all the code blue occurrences in the unit and helps to bring clinical expertise to the bedside. He is a calming presence in intense code situations. Turcotte acknowledges the staff’s needs by regularly soliciting feedback and input for ideas and new initiatives in the unit. When it was brought up during a recent meeting that it was difficult to find backboards for patient transfers, Turcotte acted the very next day, making sure there was a hanger with a backboard in the supply room and that there were more sliders on order. He promotes professionalism by encouraging the staff to pursue advances on the clinical ladder, and he works individually with nurses to help them identify skills that would benefit them and improve resources within the unit. Turcotte often mentors the staff. Recently one of the staff nurses was due to give a talk at the clinical ladder retreat. She was nervous, so he coached her. Turcotte is sensitive to patients’ and families’ need for privacy. He was instrumental in creating an area within the surgical waiting room, where surgeons could speak privately with patients and family members.

By | 2020-04-15T14:38:14-04:00 June 14th, 2010|Categories: Awards, GEM Awards, Regional, South|0 Comments

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