You are here:--Meet the 2013 GEM Awards regional finalists for Texas

Meet the 2013 GEM Awards regional finalists for Texas

Each year, calls upon you, our readers, to tell us about the exceptional nurses you work with by nominating them in our nursing excellence program — and for more than 20 years now thousands of you have done that. This year was no exception, and we once again received many phenomenal stories of nurse excellence that our RN judges narrowed down to the 30 regional finalists we proudly introduce to you in this issue.

The finalists include nurses from all specialties and practice settings. They are educators and executives, clinicians and managers, mentors and humanitarians. No matter their role or position, they’ve raised the bar for their colleagues and improved the lives of their patients. In ways as diverse as they are, they’ve enhanced the art and science of nursing and grown the body of nursing knowledge and expertise in countless ways. They are true nurses of excellence.

Although it’s been the same nursing excellence program since the very beginning in its nurse-led nomination, selection and award process, our 2013 program has a brand new name and a shiny new look. This year’s finalists will be the first group to receive the Giving Excellence Meaning, or GEM, Awards, and the first to be honored at our GEM Awards celebrations. The 30 finalists were nominated in one of the following six categories and selected from among the many nominations that came in to our 2013 program:

ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSION: An RN who is well-known and respected as a visionary, innovative leader and change agent, who moves the profession forward through work in patient care administration, education or research, or strengthens it through other professional activities, endeavors or contributions.

CLINICAL NURSING, INPATIENT: An RN who demonstrates superior clinical nursing knowledge and expert skills, and applies both in ways that measurably impact the quality of care and improve patient care outcomes in any inpatient clinical setting or nursing specialty.

EDUCATION AND MENTORSHIP: An RN who contributes to nursing’s body of knowledge through formal nursing education, skills training or continuing education, or who guides, supports or influences nurses’ career development in meaningful, measurable ways through the art of professional nursing.

HOME, COMMUNITY AND AMBULATORY CARE: An RN who exemplifies outstanding clinical knowledge and nursing expertise in caring for patients in settings outside the hospital in professional home care nursing, home hospice, subacute or intermediate care, or in other ambulatory community, industrial or school nurse roles.

PATIENT AND STAFF MANAGEMENT: An RN who makes significant contributions to the management, supervision or direction of the environment of care and the performance of staff, demonstrating an ability to lead, influence and improve outcomes of care in any inpatient or outpatient setting.

VOLUNTEERISM AND SERVICE: An RN who gives of self in outstanding humanitarian and/or heroic ways by providing nursing care, skills and expertise in outreach to the community, either at home or abroad, to improve the lives, well-being and healthcare of others.

Advancing and Leading the Profession

Faye A. Collins, RN, MS, CNS-BC, NEA-BC
Director of emergency services,
Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie (Texas)
Collins is powerfully influencing the future of nursing through mentoring nurses into future leaders and coaching new grads into tenured staff. As director of the department’s 15-bed main ED and a 9-bed minor emergency area, she ensures quality care for more than 45,000 patients annually. Collins has helped her department gain efficiency, reduce wait times and improve throughput. She also was responsible for the hospital’s achievement of heart failure certification and is helping the facility earn stroke center designation. Collins contributed to the development of American Nurses Credentialing Center specialty certification exam content via field testing. Her efforts toward improving patient satisfaction were presented nationally. She is a visible, positive force for nursing at work and in the community. Her research project to further understand the impact of nursing actions on people experiencing the sudden death of a loved one demonstrated how nurses can influence emotional healing.

Armilla A.G. Henry, RN, MSN/MEd,
Administrative director of nursing
for women, infant and children’s services/medical surgical services,
Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, Houston
Leading by example, Henry has dismantled the divide between nursing research and clinical practice. She leads a staff of nurses and associated professionals in 11 departments, continually facilitating quality improvement while leading nursing initiatives and empowering her team. Henry is recognized for her ability to make positive differences in patients’ lives. She led a project to examine infant abduction prevention measures, then implemented new procedures to safeguard this vulnerable population. Additionally, she is lead sponsor for nurse interns on a project regarding skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their neonates. She ensures that interns have dedicated time to appraise the research literature and translate findings into clinical practice. Henry facilitates student nurse training and serves on committees that enable her to make a positive impact on nursing and her team members. In the community, she serves with the March of Dimes and facilitates Girl Scouts’ participation with the women, infant and children’s units.

Angelia Lloyd-Busby, RN, MSN
Director of nursing, nursing administration,
centralized staffing and patient interpretation,
Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas
Lloyd-Busby has created a new culture of nursing leadership that ensures patient safety 24 hours a day. She is responsible for more than 120 FTEs and a budget of $3.5 million. Her hands-on skills are accented by the way she fosters collaboration across disciplines to ensure excellent patient-centered services. She championed development and implementation of the Acuity Workload Manager system. Her efforts resulted in the development and implementation of the glycemic management protocol for inpatients on the diabetic unit, and the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment protocol for high-risk alcohol withdrawal patients on the telemetry floor. Lloyd-Busby is active in the Leadership Experience at Parkland, or LEAP, training leaders to adopt best practices that promote institutional advancement. She is recognized for building the strongest float pool management team. Staff from many disciplines respect her for her visionary thinking, resourceful problem solving and staunch advocacy for patients.

Jeanne Reeves, RN, BSN, MS
CNO, Methodist Mansfield (Texas)
Medical Center
When the patient census is high, Reeves can be found on the floor in scrubs, responding to patients and supporting nurses. She oversees more than 1,000 nurses and associated personnel and 200 independently practicing physicians. She is leading the Magnet journey while preparing strategies and master plans for an expansion of the hospital. Reeves is credited with helping develop an online toolkit for nurses on the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses Workplace Advocacy Task Force, as well as leading the nursing profession on several state boards. Reeves has advanced nursing through development of a practice model that focuses on pairing nurse competencies with patient needs to promote patient safety. Her facility has received numerous awards, including Pathways to Excellence designation, Cycle 3 Chest Pain Center accreditation and Breast Center of Excellence recognition and has been listed as a “Best Place to Work” for nine years. Dozens of nurses credit her for encouraging their pursuit of master’s degrees and certifications.

Pamela Willson, RN, PhD, FNP-BC, CNE
Director of education, Parkinson’s
Disease Research, Education & Clinical
Center, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston
Willson leads nursing programs to mold nursing students into compassionate providers for 21st-century healthcare. In addition to her position at DeBakey VA Medical Center, she also is an associate professor at Prairie View (Texas) A&M University and on the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She has taught advanced practice registered nurses for more than 25 years. Willson’s scholarship includes writing textbook chapters and journal articles and delivering national presentations. She is co-principal investigator for a HRSA Texas Consortium Geriatric Education Center funding award in geriatric interprofessional education. She has contributed significantly to the growth of FNP programs and implemented novel interprofessional education initiatives, including APRN-led clinics at a homeless shelter and worksite cancer screenings. As the wife of a veteran, her passion and compassion for veteran care makes her an exceptional role model, leader and mentor of staff and students, while her research has added scientific knowledge to nursing.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Hugo Cantu, RN, BSN, CCRN
Registered nurse, JPS Health Network,
Fort Worth, Texas
Cantu’s pride in his exemplary nursing practice is contagious, say colleagues, and is disseminated to co-workers and whoever is around him. As a direct care nurse on a 36-bed ICU, he also is a preceptor and resource nurse. Cantu is an early adopter when change is initiated, constantly looking for ways to improve or add to patient care directives. When the hospital initiated an open heart program, Cantu was one of the first to sign up as a designated heart nurse. The program was successfully implemented by his can-do attitude that influenced others. Among new staff, he is one of the most sought-after preceptors; with patients and families, Cantu is often recognized for going above and beyond in giving compassionate care. An active member of the local AACN chapter, he participates in the American Heart Walk and Relay for Life. Co-workers consider him a rare gem worthy of recognition.

Karen Terry DeYoung, RN, BSN, OCN
Clinical nurse, the University of Texas
MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
“The go-to person for new initiatives” is how DeYoung’s supervisor describes this nurse who works on a 48-bed acute care hematology stem cell transplant unit. She often is charge nurse and coaches new staff, and assists seasoned co-workers. She was a leader of an evidence-based project looking at vital sign monitoring during blood product administration, and through research and communication assisted in changing institutional policy that has improved nursing practice. She also organized a unit-based group to engage staff in improvement initiatives in compliance with medical record-keeping practices. Her focus on patient care led her to work with an Individualized Care Planning group to create nursing care plans for patients with complex medical or psychosocial situations. DeYoung recently was elected to represent clinical nurses on the shared governance Nursing Practice Council. She is seen as a strategic leader who empowers and gives vision to the nursing team.

Mavis C. Jones, RN, CCRN
Staff nurse, Texas Health Specialty
Hospital, Fort Worth, Texas
Jones is the kind of nurse who steps in to serve when the charge nurse calls on her, and she does so with an unruffled, positive attitude. Her supervisor says she is one of the most clinically competent nurses the hospital has had at the 10-bed long term acute care facility where she cares for patients with multiple traumas, complex wound care and multisystem failure. Jones has worked on several projects to improve patient and employee satisfaction, and serves on several nursing councils. She takes newcomers under her wing to mentor and precept. Known for her compassion and team-orientation, she has provided many inservices for staff, patients and families and developed learning tools for less experienced staff. Jones is part of the Center for Care Innovation and Transformation, a special project to enhance nursing leadership skills at the hospital and is recognized hospitalwide as an informal leader.

Jesse Lewis, RN, MSN, CWCN
Wound care nurse, VA North Texas
Health Care System, Dallas
Salvaged limbs and increased patient satisfaction are hallmarks of Lewis’ work as a certified wound care nurse in a veterans’ care system. He serves both inpatients and outpatients and leads a team of six specialized staff to provide the most advanced wound and ostomy care. Lewis is credited by colleagues for providing honest and realistic options to patients and staff and often is called on to provide palliative pre-amputation wound care for veterans. With his highly ethical and skillful approach, Lewis has initiated many ethical consults for patients so alternative therapies could be explored, advocating for patients to be able to exercise autonomy in their care plans. He has fostered collaborative relationships with medical professionals and patients for the patients’ best outcomes. Lewis has been recognized on multiple occasions for his contributions to the facility and clearly exceeds expectations to serve his patients.

Sandra K. Sanchez, RN, BSN,
Forensic nurse examiner,
Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston
Sanchez values the opportunity to promote emotional healing with victims of sexual abuse so the violence that affected them doesn’t define the rest of their lives. As a forensic nurse, Sanchez balances listening and respecting patients’ needs with meticulously preserving critical evidence. Co-workers cite her selflessness and availability; she answers their calls and distress pages 24/7. She is positive role model and mentor for new forensic nurses and strongly supports nurses furthering their education. Sanchez realizes the value of nursing research as a way to positively influence health policy with sexual violence issues. She is active in the Community Primary Prevention Coalition and became involved with the hospital’s Evidence-Based Practice Nursing Governance Council. Sanchez is praised often for her compassion and knowledge by victim advocates at rape centers. Many law enforcement agencies with which the hospital interfaces have her cell phone number, providing more timely response for patients.

Education and Mentorship

Tiffani Dusang, RN, BSN,
Forensic nurse examiner,
Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston
In response to a patient situation, Dusang developed important education to improve recognition and assessment for patients post-strangulation, a demonstration of her depth of commitment to patients she serves as a forensic nurse. Considered extremely skilled, a rigorous critical thinker and devoted to collaboration, Dusang’s teaching tool for post-strangulation assessment became an inservice for colleagues, which she now presents regularly to healthcare providers and first responders at state and national conferences. She also identified the need for an updated protocol for emergency contraception for the sexual assault patient. Her literature review and research compilation brought about consensus among providers for an effective plan. Dusang’s concern for children affected by abuse prompted her to begin a community Bible study group for young adolescents a few years ago, providing an open environment in which youth can ask questions about sexuality, sexting, the Internet and other topics while being affirmed and protected.

Wendi Froedge, RN, MSN, CCRN
RN IV, clinical expert, Methodist
Willowbrook Hospital, Houston
Froedge speaks from personal experience when she educates patients about the seriousness of managing heart disease risks: She has undergone a heart cath procedure because of coronary artery disease. Now Froedge provides clinical education and expertise for the critical care department, teaching more than 130 staff. Froedge is credited with preparing the clinical team for the launch of the cardiovascular service in 2010 and the neurosurgery service in 2011, developing training programs and assessing competencies. She has helped the hospital reach a zero VAP infection rate, which it has maintained for four years. Froedge has led the facility’s Fall Prevention Committee, which is responsible for a hospitalwide fall reduction and a fall rate of 2.05 compared to the 3.52 national benchmark for community hospitals. Colleagues believe she exudes professionalism, a commitment to excellence in patient care and a dedication that includes serving as a lead writer during the Magnet Recognition document submission process. She chairs the Magnet Champions team.

Mario Noli G. Legarde III, RN, MSN,
Nurse educator, University Health
System, San Antonio
Last year, Legarde transformed nursing orientation at his facility from a classroom experience to a customized learning event using simulation and scenario-based training. As a nurse educator, Legarde is responsible for orienting up to 300 new nurses annually, managing the simulation lab, conducting systemwide mock codes and developing skills in new nurse educators for community-based clinics. Colleagues value how Legarde uses his cultural and linguistic expertise to reach out to Filipino patients and to educate staff on Philippine culture. He is active on the Employee Diversity Task Force. Legarde’s visionary leadership has renovated the organization’s education programs as he has bridged the gap between knowledge and skills by designing scenario-based approaches for the nursing needs of adult learners who are new to the health system. He was instrumental in reducing on-the-job injuries and saving lives through systemwide training in handling violence and assaults by patients, families and visitors.

Karen Lee Yates, RN, BS, CEN, LP
ER cardiac/EMS coordinator,
Methodist Mansfield (Texas)
Medical Center
Yates’ training efforts have helped save more than 55 lives this year at her hospital. Specializing in cardiovascular education and emergency care, she trains nurses and first responders to reduce the average door-to-balloon time for patients experiencing an ST-elevation myocardial infarction; the hospital’s best door-to-balloon time is 22 minutes, compared to the 90-minute national average goal. She facilitates patient/physician conferences to resolve patient concerns and partners with the medical staff to develop physician order sets, ensuring they’re supported by evidenced-based literature. Yates is widely involved in the community such as the local crisis response team. She coordinates free physicals for young athletes and is known for her compassion for students. Yates voluntarily teaches EMS continuing education classes. As a clinical resource, she created and cross-trained a team of nurses to assist when needed in the cath lab and is leading the team for Primary Stroke Center designation.

Linda H. Yoder, RN, PhD, MBA, FAAN, AOCN
Associate professor, director, nursing
administration graduate concentration,
University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing
Yoder’s legacy in nursing is her passion and commitment to mentoring. She is a preeminent coach, teacher and mentor to students, scholars and nurses in multiple spheres. She collaborates with two other healthcare systems on nursing research and evidence-based practice initiatives and has extended education on evidence-based practice, coaching and leadership to many staff nurses. Yoder coached a National Institutes of Health Clinical Scholar during her post-doctoral experience, and in 2012 one of her doctoral students received a Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence. The quality of performance among her doctoral students is high, evidenced by timely graduation rates, high publication rates and successful employment post-graduation. Yoder makes herself available to students after graduation for career mentorship. Throughout her mentoring and teaching, she is recognized for genuinely celebrating the success of others.

Home, Community and Ambulatory Care

Marco Alalay, RN, OCN
Clinical nurse,
The University of Texas MD
Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
Colleagues comment that Alalay instinctively grasps the concept of holistic nursing, incorporating the mind, body and soul of those he has been entrusted to care for. At the ambulatory treatment center where he is a primary care nurse and sometimes charge nurse, he is responsible for 8-to-12 patients each shift. Alalay starts IVs, educating patients on the plan of care for the day, including additional needs expected once the patient is discharged. He administers the chemotherapy and supportive care medications and blood products, as well as other medically needed treatments, and monitors for side effects. Patients and families repeatedly mention Alalay by name, commending the care he has given. Patients with life-threatening illnesses express an extraordinary security and sense of well-being thanks to the efforts of this nurse. He was among the first on the unit to obtain orthopaedic certification, understanding the use of evidenced-based practice and standards.

Shatzie Montellano, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Director, Children’s Wellness Center,
The University of Texas at Austin
School of Nursing, Del Valle
Montellano is indefatigable in improving patient care while empowering patients in their self-care decisions. She is director of a school-based health clinic serving a largely Hispanic, low-income, medically underserved community. The clinic serves more than 5,000 children annually, and last year provided more than 6,000 immunizations. Montellano’s involvement includes overseeing training of up to 65 nursing and nurse practitioner students yearly, and research on health disparities. She precepts NP students and participates in a broad scope of school and community events. Last year, she helped with a coat drive, signing up 230 family members needing coats. Montellano recruits children to receive services at a dental van. Working with a local agency, she sees that bike helmets are distributed at the clinic each year and assists with outreaches for immunizations and sports physicals. Montellano has expanded clinic services by initiating maternity care and contracting with a behavioral health counselor.

Jane A. Reeves, RN, BS, CBCN
Oncology nurse navigator,
Methodist Richardson (Texas)
Cancer Center

With notable empathetic listening and her warm presence, Reeves develops trust with patients as she guides them through breast cancer treatment. This nurse navigator, responsible for all newly diagnosed breast cancer clients in the organization, is able to provides a special empathy as she also has experienced breast cancer. Reeves works collaboratively with providers in radiology, surgery, oncology and infusions, walking alongside the patient and using the teach-back method of patient education to reinforce their understanding and participatory guidance in their cancer journey. Reeves is highly involved in the community through the Wild Ride/Wild Run cancer community fundraiser, Men’s Health Tune-up and Heart to Heart. She participates in health screenings for a local company and facilitates cancer support group meetings at the Cancer Center. Reeves works closely with the American Cancer Society, building a resource center with current literature for clients and family members.

Kathy Ripley, RN, BSN, MBA, CGRN
Endoscopy nurse, Methodist
Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Ripley is characterized by colleagues as a change agent who consistently finds ways to improve systems and procedures while serving her patients and her community. As one of two level 5 RNs in her facility, Ripley works in the gastroenterology department where she has influenced all her nurse co-workers to achieve national certification. She participates and leads a variety of initiatives to improve patient satisfaction, reduce infections and prevent GI procedural delays. In the community, Ripley gives time and expertise as a medical crew member with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and walks in fundraisers for the March of Dimes. She is involved with teddy bear clinics in local elementary schools and serves in community health fairs. Promoting nursing and healthcare careers, she speaks to students during career days.

Victoria A. Yeatts, RN, MSN
Deputy director, Garland (Texas)
Health Department
Seeking to leave a legacy of effective, affordable basic health services to Texans, Yeatts works passionately to serve her community as deputy director of health. The public health clinic in Garland that she leads serves more than 20,000 patients yearly. Continually pursuing creative ways to reach needy families, Yeatts serves on several boards, including that of New Horizons, a program for pregnant or parenting students. She has worked to increase immunization rates and improve children’s health by monitoring immunizations records in the school district. To widen the reach of affordable care to a greater number of residents, Yeatts enabled the public health clinic to become a private insurance provider, allowing the city and the school district to offer health insurance and thus, more care to more people. She continues to look for innovative means to help public health survive tough budget times and provide care for many who need basic services.

Patient and Staff Management

Barry Allen, RN-BC, BSN
Manager of cardiology
services/comprehensive wound
care, Baylor Medical Center
at Irving (Texas)
Allen makes success look easy, colleagues say, noting his high investment of time and energy to produce the healthy, positive environment his staff and patients enjoy. Overseeing the cath lab, congestive heart failure clinic, cardiac rehab and anticoagulation clinic, he also has taken over management of the outpatient comprehensive wound care clinic. This change produced a more efficiently functioning clinic that has doubled in patient volume in six months, turning a potential for staff turnover into an atmosphere of better teamwork and collaboration. Allen’s problem-solving and relationship-building result in the highest participation in attendance to employee forums and staff retention rates. His staff has led in the hospital’s efforts to receive the last two chest pain accreditations and the recent CHF accreditation. He worked with his nurses to create an in-house PICC line insertion team, seeing financial and quality care benefits while decreasing use of contract services.

Tammi S. Birch, RN
Nurse director, Hunt Regional
Medical Center, Greenville, Texas
Since taking over management of the behavioral health unit, Birch has changed the environment so significantly that the reputation of her unit and the hospital has noticeably improved. Birch is responsible for 31 staff and through her model of calm, professional, respectful leadership, she has achieved impressive results, say supervisors. From a climate of frequent take downs and restraint of patients, Birch has altered the functioning of the unit to where no patient restraints or seclusions have been needed for more than a year. Co-workers observe that she has rebuilt staff, retrained, redirected and worked tirelessly to create a trusting, collaborative work environment. Quality of care, patient and staff safety, employee engagement and satisfaction and patient satisfaction all have increased measurably. Birch has made this behavioral health unit a place where student interns, and new and seasoned staff, are valued and has modeled how to affect lasting change in patients.

Jackie Cox, RN
Director of emergency services,
Lake Pointe Health Network,
Rowlett, Texas
One of Cox’s staff in the ED says she often hears other employees say they wish they worked in Cox’s department. These types of comments are frequently heard since Cox assumed leadership. The department has changed from a single unit with 35 employees to a multi-site responsibility with 115 staff and has earned five-star status for four consecutive years. Cox sees little turnover among her staff while enjoying high patient satisfaction scores. Since assuming leadership, the department has introduced many features: point of care testing, ED STEMI program, Code Stroke, induced hypothermia, trauma designation and a sexual assault response team. The ED is awaiting designation for level 3 trauma status. Cox is known to jump into the line of fire and lend a helping hand in the hospital and community. She visits local fire and EMS departments and attends community leadership activities.

Ulondia Denise Lee, RN, MSN, CENP
Director of med/surg,
Magnet program coordinator,
Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Lee’s med/surg department is so well run and populated with such satisfied staff and patients that national benchmarks for core measures and satisfaction are consistently surpassed. She supervises more than 50 staff, promoting from within and maintaining a 100% retention rate for new grads. Patient satisfaction scores are above the 90th percentile, partly due to her influence in process improvement efforts. She has pioneered initiatives such as bedside report, interdisciplinary plan of care meetings and enhanced discharge tools that have increased patient satisfaction and quality outcomes. Lee also developed a discharge program, boosting patients’ satisfaction with the discharge process, resulting in the 99th percentile score. Lee insists on proactive engagement of her staff, involving them in committees and teams that bring these positive results. Setting standard procedures for evidence-based practice, including coordinating education sessions for post-surgery patients, her department has exceeded national benchmarks for core measure compliance for patients.

Gayle McGlory, RN-BC, PhD, CCRN
Director of nursing, med/surg ICU
and intermediate care unit,
Lyndon B. Johnson General
Hospital, Houston
Others seek to emulate this nurse leader because she is clinically astute, demonstrates genuine caring for others and bases her practice on empirically derived best practices. McGlory directs critical care and intermediate care services, overseeing a staff of about 130. She models a strong commitment to improving the lives of the marginalized, disenfranchised and stigmatized. She is a key resource for critical care: results include a zero rate of ventilator-acquired events for almost two years, and central line blood stream infection rates have been zero for more than 1 1/2 years. McGlory’s team has decreased call light calls after discovering new ways of assessing predictable patient needs. She led her staff in exploring published literature to uncover patient satisfaction ideas, resulting in nurses using a scripting tool to manage patient expectations proactively. These efforts have measurably reduced patient anxiety and improved satisfaction scores.

Volunteerism and Service

Jan Auerbach, RN, MSN, LP
Nurse, PACU/ED, Baylor Medical
Center at Uptown, Dallas
Auerbach’s desire to serve others is illuminated by her efforts to improve healthcare delivery systems for the disenfranchised. A full-time nurse in a PACU and on call for an emergency room, she has a special interest in improving the lives and health of women and children and assisting vulnerable populations to cope during disasters. She provides medical care and serves as a link to other services for refugees in Dallas, electing to take college classes in Spanish to improve her communication skills for this outreach. Each year she completes two or three medical missions to needy countries and has been exploring the development of a nursing education program in Haiti after three medical missions there. Auerbach has volunteered on the African Mercy ship and various U.S. Navy hospital ships. Her overseas outreach includes training of health personnel and families. Her contagious love of nursing and of humanity is continually evident.

Sandy M. Bruskewitz, RN, BA, COHN-S/CM
Occupational health nurse,
3M, Austin, Texas
Helping develop and open the nonprofit Sacred Heart Community Clinic for people who have no insurance or Medicare/Medicaid is only one of Bruskewitz’s accomplishments for her community. The clinic saw more than 1,800 patients last year during two evening walk-in clinics. Bruskewitz has written and implemented all of the clinic policies and procedures. By day, Bruskewitz is an occupational health nurse at a large corporation and team leader for a health and productivity initiative to successfully promote consumer health education and disease management programs. Colleagues comment that she is a strong proponent of health promotion, ensuring that people have the information they need to live their best. She had been team leader for health fairs, screenings, breast cancer awareness and heart health awareness. She helped organize five Biggest Loser contests with 14 teams participating and a cumulative loss of 530 pounds in eight weeks. Bruskewitz truly understands the difference between serving and volunteering.

Shelley Cook, RN, BSN, CNOR
Director of surgical services,
Methodist Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Cook’s involvement in the community is a testament to her concern and compassion for others. She volunteered more than 500 hours last year to improve her community’s health. Aside from her work leading the clinical staff as an OR director, she mentors student nurses from three universities. Her fundraising for children resulted in 1,500 Christmas toys. Her efforts for the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and Toys for Tots brought in $11,000. Cook helped promote heart health, portion control and fitness at eight local races highlighting exercise and healthy nutrition, and coordinated free sports physicals for more than 400 middle school and high school athletes. She helped provide counseling for more than 1,200 community residents on their biometric results at a health event. Cook teaches youth the consequences of drunk driving and speaks regularly at school career days, endlessly inspiring and motivating those around her through her generous service.

Cherie R. James, RN, BSN, ONC
Nurse manager, Methodist
Charlton Medical Center, Dallas
Considered by co-workers as a natural leader, James is also seen as a natural giver. The nurse manager of the 36-bed orthopedic/oncology/ surgery unit, James helped rebuild homes destroyed in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina; on mission trips she has worked at an orphanage in Romania and given medical care in Guatemala. James participates in community and college health fairs to promote the hospital’s orthopedic program and is a strong blood donor advocate. Her caring is evident as she pitches in spontaneously to help people in need, such as scraping thick ice from an older employee’s walkway to assisting fellow employees after a tornado destroyed homes, while also providing emotional comfort. She visits patients’ homes to provide after-hours assistance, whether with a PICC line or to allay a family’s anxiety. Patients, fellow staff and community members comment on her obvious commitment to care and to leading by example.

Sharon D. Smith, CMSRN, BSN
Registered nurse, Methodist
Mansfield (Texas) Medical Center
Smith has invested in nurses in Haiti to help improve healthcare. She is a telemetry nurse, working at the bedside and as a lead nurse while mentoring students and new nurses. She actively organized and recruited nurses for a mission trip to Haiti, working there to feed, clothe, and provide desperately needed healthcare to the underserved and underprivileged. She used her nursing expertise to train inexperienced Haitian nurses, desiring to invest in their professional lives in order to widen her outreach to Haitians who live in desperate conditions. Smith mentors at-risk teenage girls of color so that they feel empowered, supported and encouraged to continue to pursue their education, and prepares food for a local homeless shelter. At her church, Smith is a community outreach nurse; she conducts physicals at local health fairs and recruits others to participate.

Check out a photo gallery of the 2013 GEM Awards Texas finalists at

By | 2021-05-07T08:29:55-04:00 August 5th, 2013|Categories: Nursing Awards|0 Comments

About the Author:


Leave A Comment