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Meet the 2014 Greater Chicago Nursing Excellence GEM Awards finalists

Each year, calls upon our readers to nominate exceptional nurse colleagues for our Nursing Excellence GEM Awards program. For more than a decade, we have received thousands of entries that contain stories of phenomenal nurse leaders, mentors and clinicians. This year has been no different. The nurses nominated for our 2014 Nursing Excellence GEM Awards program have proved true nursing excellence is alive and well.


Mary Ann McDermott, RN, EdD, FAAN: Professor emerita Niehoff School of Nursing & nurse educator, Loyola University & Edward Y. Hines Veterans Hospital, Chicago

McDermott has shared her gift of communication throughout her 30-year career as a professor of nursing at Loyola University and during her tenure as chairwoman of the board of directors of Advocate Health Care. Her vision led to establishing a Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing-run community health clinic, which has flourished for more than 30 years. A highly sought national and international speaker, she has been the recipient of numerous awards. Her consulting activities related to grant proposals resulted in funding from such foundations as the Baxter America Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation and the Foundation for Health Enhancement. McDermott has been a member of numerous professional organizations and was active in the American Hospital Association. She served 19 years as an accreditation site visitor for the National League for Nursing. She was a founding leader of the Health Ministries Association now known as the Church Health Organization and was the founding president of the Nurses and Humanities Group affiliated with the Hektoen Institute of Medicine in Chicago. McDermott now devotes her time to fostering interdisciplinary communication and professional continuing education. She serves on several boards that promote professional development and she is a nursing education consultant to the VA system.

Patricia Nedved, RN, MSN, CENP: Associate vice president, professional nursing practice, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Nedved is accountable for patient safety, training and development, quality, Magnet designation, clinical informatics and performance improvement. Her list of responsibilities, oversight and collaborative efforts crosses several disciplines and departments. A true transformational leader, she approaches her work with passion, creativity and respect for all to ensure that the bedside nurse is empowered. She supports the shared governance organization in recognizing certified nurses and strongly believes that certification not only recognizes achievement, expertise and clinical judgment, but also shows a commitment to continued scholarship and skill development. Nedved approaches nurse sensitive quality indicators and core quality measures by advocating for empowerment of the bedside nurse. Nedved has shown medical colleagues and administrators that significant improvements in core measure and quality compliance can be achieved by empowering the bedside nurse. She is paving the way so that nursing can drive quality improvement at Rush. Nedved teamed with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Chicago extension to build a program for nurses and physicians to not only learn basic medical Spanish, but build their cultural diversity education.

Carol A. Payson, RN, MSN, NE-BC: Director, emergency services, director, patient care operations, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

Payson provides administrative oversight for 225 inpatient beds where she fosters organizational excellence through change management leadership.
She has been a member of the hospital steering committee for United Way and March of Dimes since 1996 and has been chairwoman for the United Way Campaign and board member for the Community Crisis Center Free Clinic. Payson is a published author who has written numerous articles and a book on falls. She is the director-facilitator for the skin expert nurse program. She played an instrumental role in the achievement of pressure ulcer quality goals both at the hospital and national level and was recognized by AONE, receiving the Outstanding Poster award. She received the Lifesaving Partners award from Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network of Illinois. She has participated on the AONE Diversity Council, AONE Advisory Board, was an item writer for the Certification for Nurse Managers and Leaders and was on the AONE Education Committee. In addition, she was on the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network Advisory Task Force and on the Regional Stroke Advisory Subcommittee. She is a member of the Region XI (City of Chicago) Emergency Medical Services and the Academic Medical Center Special Interest Advisory Panel for Press Ganey.

Anne S. Pohlman, RN, MSN, APN, CNS, CCRN, FCCM: APN critical care clinical research, University of Chicago Medicine

Pohlman participates on the institutional review board, University Hospital Consortium, critical care advisory board, nursing executive council, nursing practice council, nursing research committee and she co-chairs the advance practice nurses executive council. Pohlman’s contributions to the organization as well as the nation go without question. She is an active member of several professional organizations: the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Sigma Theta Tau – International Nursing Honor Society, Society of Critical Care Medicine and American College of Chest Physicians. She has been recognized as a Fellow for the College of Critical Care Medicine. She is a member of the guidelines management committee for the Society for Critical Care Medicine. She has served as a multi-center clinical trial subinvestigator for 35 research studies, contributing to knowledge that has improved the care of patients in critical care worldwide. Pohlman is committed to the growth and development of critical care clinicians across the globe. She has co-authored 85 abstracts and 48 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. She has been invited to present more than 60 times to groups spanning the nation and has contributed to the development of 17 multimedia educational programs.

Airica Steed, RN, EdD, MBA, CSSMBB, FACHE: Enterprise Chief Experience Officer & professor, health policy & administration & nursing, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System/vice president for Health Affairs Hospital Administration, Chicago

Steed is a strategic and visionary transformational change agent and international expert in Lean Six Sigma and Malcolm Baldrige framework. Under Steed’s leadership, the University of Illinois has been able to accomplish a series of firsts, including creating and instituting the first Patient Family Advisory Council composed of more than 100 patients and families. She also created and deployed the first enterprisewide standards of behavior called UI CARE (communicate, acknowledge, respect and excel) and established the first integrated one-stop shop customer service center for the enterprise to address patient access and care transition challenges. In parallel to her primary position, Steed serves in several appointed faculty roles, including University of Illinois School of Nursing and Public Health; Loyola University – Quinlan School of Business Administration; and Walden University- School of Health Science. Steed is a certified master black belt in Lean Six Sigma, Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and has served multiple terms on the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award.


Ann L. Jorgensen, RN, MS, APN-BC, PCCN: Advanced practice nurse/clinical nurse specialist, telemetry, Advocate South Suburban Hospital, Hazel Crest, Ill.

Jorgensen’s role includes overseeing two large telemetry units with 92 nurses. She is an excellent resource for the nursing staff and is a true champion of the nursing profession. She is a published author and is working on two IRB-approved studies. She has presented at conferences and mentors several nurses with evidence-based practice projects or who are applying for IRB approval. She is active in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and is an AACN ambassador. She recently precepted a DNP student and often plans staff education based on a physician’s input. She seeks out the educational desires and needs of the nurses and then partners with the physicians to provide cardiologist-led educational programs. In her role as the facilitator of the professional nurse practice shared governance council, she has led the council to many accomplishments. She also is a champion for the telemetry unit-based council. Jorgenson’s contributions to positive measureable differences are readily apparent. Because of her continual auditing, education and mentoring of the telemetry staff, she can be given much of the credit for the unit exceeding the heart failure core measure target for 2013. She is a member of the stroke core and CQI team.

Debra Ranieri, RN, BS: Registered nurse, Glenbrook Hospital, Glenview, Ill.

Ranieri works closely with the ICU team. Her talent to communicate clearly to the team supports the ICU’s ability to deliver safe, quality and excellent care to patients. She also supports the quality outcomes achieved in the ICU. When Ranieri identifies opportunities for improvement, she does not hesitate to collaborate with the appropriate members of the team and actively participates in adjusting, implementing or reinforcing measures instituted to support the excellence in care that the unit provides. Ranieri is consistently engaged in ICU projects, initiatives and task forces that focus on the continual improvement in the ICU. As a member of the quality and safety council, she supports all of the National Patient Safety Goals and has worked together with the ICU team on developing a process to meet crucial patient safety goals. The members of the ICU recognized her professionalism, leadership qualities and dedication to her profession by nominating her for the Nurse Excellence Award at Glenbrook Hospital. This award is given during Nurses Week and she received it because of the extensive supporting evidence the ICU team provided to the committee.

Christine Shaw Regan, RN, BSN, CCM: Care manager, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, Ill.

Regan’s role is to coordinate the many aspects of patient care. Her main goal is to facilitate wellness and autonomy through a collaborative process of assessment, planning, communication, education and advocacy for options and services to meet the patient’s and their family’s needs. She is very successful and skilled at working with patients and their families. She is the consummate caring professional, dedicating endless hours to ensuring safe discharges. Regan is well known for her patient resources, vendors and providers that she uses for patient referrals to ensure safe transition to home or the next level of care. Her knowledge of care management and the medical system is exemplary. She holds her Care Management National Certification and is an active member of the Academy of Certified Case Managers and the Case Management Society of America. Regan completed a Six Sigma Lean certification called the Coram Neulasta Project. She has been published in two nursing journals and wrote a chapter in Principles and Practice of Intravenous Therapy, Fifth Edition.

Stephanie Seburn, RN, BSN, CCRN: Education coordinator, general medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

Seburn is known to have superb clinical judgment and the ability to help less experienced staff develop judgment skills. She has a remarkable ability to intervene and diffuse stressful situations, problems and patient/family issues. She always takes a professional approach to problem solving, maintains a service-oriented attitude and acts as a patient advocate. Clinical inquiry is embedded in her clinical practice and Seburn verses each new clinical nurse in inquiry. Seburn obtained her CCRN certification and has begun an MSN program. She has been involved in the hospital’s shared leadership committees for several years. As chairwoman, she worked on several hospitalwide nursing initiatives. As a result of her work, Seburn was asked to join the director of professional development and manager/facilitator of the nursing practice committee in giving a podium presentation at the 2013 ANCC Magnet Conference. Her explanation of how the clinical nurses’ input, decision-making and ideas were supported and implemented with approval of senior management garnered great interest among the 700 attendees. She has been asked to represent nursing in the quality department’s interdisciplinary morbidity mortality panels, the hospital’s ethics committee, nursing grand rounds, rapid improvement workshops and root cause analyses.

Mary Jo Vail, RN, MS, BS: Registered nurse – NCII, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Vail is responsible for admitting both inpatients and outpatients before procedures. She is responsible for point of care testing and is a member of unit council. She attends multiple meetings and then reports back to staff the practice changes that need to be implemented. Vail precepts nurses to the pre-procedure area as well as new nurses as part of their orientation. She routinely follows strict pre-admitting procedures and uses critical thinking, which have resulted in many “good catches” in patient care, preventing possible untoward patient outcomes. She has called patients’ families, primary care doctors and pharmacies to get to the bottom of patients’ medication recommendations. She has found errors in the medications patients were taking and alerted doctors and educated patients and families on adverse or faulty prescriptions. Vail is ready and aware of all problems that might arise and alerts cardiologists, respiratory, floor nurses and leadership when she feels a problem should be addressed. She is the ultimate patient advocate and always puts the safety of the patient first. Vail is leading a project to design a computer program for a new hemodynamic and monitoring system.


Marcie Carlson, RN, MSN, AHN-BC: Nurse educator, care management, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, Ill.

Carlson educates stakeholders about new programs, innovations, technology and holism. She chairs the standing orders committee, is an active member of the national conference committee, serves on the preceptor committee and is working to tailor the annual CBLs to be care management-specific. She completed a Healing Touch level 1 class and a Reiki level 3 class. She is certified in Advanced Holistic Nursing and belongs to the American Holistic Nurses Association. Carlson introduced the Integrative Healing Arts program administered by the Birch Tree Center for Healthcare Transformation to CTCA at Midwestern. As the leader and change agent to bring holism to professional nursing, she is a role model and mentor for incorporating holism into daily nursing practice. She mentors others to bring self-care to the nursing environment. She has worked diligently to ensure a firm understanding of the holistic concepts and has nurtured the program to its fruition – the graduation of the first cohort of holistic nurses at CTCA at Midwestern. Carlson also formed and is chairwoman of the CTCA at Midwestern holistic nursing council. She has served on the transformational leadership committee and is an active member of the unit-based council for care management.

Tamara Bland, RN, MSN: Academic faculty, Resurrection University, Chicago

Bland developed an elective course called Urban Nursing: Caring for the Underserved Population, which exposed students to vulnerable populations in the Chicago area. She has guided undergraduate students in the conduction of original research. A group of students wanted to know more about the stresses of student life, so they designed a survey, obtained IRB approval and analyzed their data. Their findings have alerted faculty to the challenges students experience. Bland volunteers her weekends during the summer to precept students as they volunteer at health fairs in underserved populations. She developed a national service learning opportunity in rural Alabama for undergraduate students and travels with them for a week every other year to care for impoverished people. Bland won the DAISY Award for Faculty Excellence and has been recognized as one of the top 100 nurses to watch in 2014. She serves on the faculty affairs committee and was appointed to an AQUIP committee to affect cultural change within the university. She was elected as an officer of the Nursing Honor Society and appointed to the college’s 100th-year anniversary committee. She has conducted faculty inservices on recent changes to NCLEX. In preparation for an accreditation review, Bland served as faculty advisor and reviewer.

Peggy Cowling, RNC-OB, MSN, APN, C-EFM: Clinical nurse specialist, Advocate South Suburban Hospital, Hazel Crest, Ill.

Cowling chairs the career advancement board, mentoring nurses throughout the hospital. She also is adjunct faculty for Saint Xavier University, a clinical instructor for Olivet Nazarene University and has taught the Kaplan NCLEX review course to new graduate nurses. Cowling leads with amazing energy and enthusiasm. In 2012, she co-chaired the national 2012 Maternal Child Conference for the Academy of Neonatal Nurses in Chicago. She was a podium presenter for the conference in collaboration with the ICU APN. She is a member of and instructor for AWHONN and teaches the intermediate fetal monitoring course. Cowling also has developed a basic electronic fetal monitoring course and has worked on system initiatives. She is a certified instructor in childbirth education, inpatient obstetric and fetal monitoring. Cowling is the most senior APN for Advocate and works on projects at the corporate level. She participates in shared governance as chairwoman of professional development and is chairwoman of the site OB safety committee. She is a member of the Advocate Research Council and received the Patient Safety Award in 2007.

Kristen DiBenedetto, RN, MSN, CEN: Clinical practice partner, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

DiBenedetto is responsible for the education needs of all ER nurses and technicians. She also collaborates with multiple departments and other Advocate hospitals to achieve patient safety and satisfaction. She is able to identify areas of clinical practice that needs to be improved, and her leadership has transformed the clinical steps program for nurses in the ED. The clinical III nurses have become champions on the unit and two RNs are applying for clinical IV status. DiBenedetto redesigned the RN and ERT orientation program, andsShe assisted in starting the first sexual assault nurse examiner program. She also created a program to reduce the time it takes to collect troponins. DiBenedetto set up an online education committee, which she leads, and she addresses topics that are generated from the staff. This initiative is leading to a redesign of the ED RN orientation program. She is working with a staff member in a large research project that involves family presence at the bedside during resuscitations.

Lynn Watson, RN, MSN, CMSRN: Director of professional nursing practice & development, Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Joliet, Ill.

Watson is responsible for supervising the training and development of specialists as well as nurses who provide education to numerous departments. She embodies the medical center’s Every Nurse a Leader philosophy. She has provided support and guidance to the coordinator of the New Graduate RN Transition into Practice program where the retention rate is 100% for the last four cohorts. Comparing the current turnover rate to the historical baseline, the cost savings for this program is about half a million dollars. Watson mentored RNs who became co-chairs for the clinical leadership council, and her mentorship helped advance initiatives that contributed to positive outcomes. With Watson’s passionate leadership and innovative impetus, CLC has implemented use of a mobile training unit to provide just-in-time, time-sensitive education. She moved the bar for patient safety with her Let’s Get Moving program, taking it to the next level, generating a safety initiative throughout the organization known as the ARC Angel Program. The ARC YouTube video entitled ARC Angels Shepherd Patients at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center went viral, taking its message of Awareness, Responsibility and Commitment to prevent falls beyond the medical center doors.


Pamela Beauduy, RN, MSN: Pediatric nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, The University of Chicago Medicine

Beauduy is the primary health care provider on board the Comer Children’s Hospital Mobile Medical Unit, a 44-foot semi-trailer truck with two full-sized exam rooms that travels to schools on the south side of Chicago. Many of the students who access the mobile unit are medically disadvantaged and have had difficulty accessing consistent primary care. Beauduy provides medical assessment and management, vaccinations, psychosocial screening, laboratory screening and preventive counseling. She provides direct medical services for hundreds of students throughout the school year, and provides health education in the classroom for hundreds more. In class, she offers information on health concerns and challenges that young people might encounter, including dating violence, sexually transmitted infections, anger management, depression, puberty and hygiene, physical activity and healthy diet. Beauduy also manages the lab services on board the mobile unit, tracking all quality assurance and proficiency activities. She creates a personal connection with each student she encounters. Beauduy gives the majority of the health education presentations to students and teachers at the schools the unit serves. Because of Beauduy, the mobile unit program is able to reach many more children and adolescents with preventive health messages than it could reach during direct medical services alone. The care that she provides has contributed to the mobile unit’s reputation as a place to receive comprehensive and caring medical care.

Julie Campbell, RN-BC, BSN, OCN: Care manager, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, Ill.

Campbell’s main goal is to facilitate patient wellness and autonomy. She establishes long-term relationships with patients and their family members, guiding them through the care process. She also educates patients on chemotherapy symptom management, monitors lab results and communicates with local providers and agencies. She has built strong relationships with her patients who trust that when they talk to Campbell she will follow through. Campbell has been involved in numerous committees, councils, projects and organizations, and she participated in an interdisciplinary A3 project to ensure patients have mammography films at CTCA at Midwestern prior to scheduled mammograms or breast MRI. Completing this project helped to ensure seamless care for patients. Campbell is on the standing orders committee, part of the unit-based council, and is also a member of the care management preceptor committee. Campbell is both oncology and care management certified and is an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society, the American Nurses Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She is pursuing a PhD in nursing at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a focus in education. As part of the Magnet journey, she chaired the housewide nursing council for performance improvement and research.

Jerrilyn Pearson-Minor, RN, MSN, EdD: Statewide chief of nursing services, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Pearson-Minor is responsible for the nurses and allied nursing staff directly interfacing with children and families in need of medical, nursing and social service intervention. She seeks and encourages faculty from schools of nursing to participate in community clinical experiences for their students, available through her agency. In her role, a primary concern has been provision of care in a more timely and effective manner. She generated and implemented a nursing process-based plan designed to more accurately and with certainty assess children and family needs with appropriate referrals and interventions. This required her to visit facilities throughout the state to directly inservice and supervise the utilization of this new approach. Her work has significantly reduced the number of children and families that might in the past have been lost in the system. She represents the role of nursing in meeting the care needs of children and families referred to the department. She is an active member of the National Black Nurses Association, Chicago Chapter. Through her association with various schools of nursing, she has been instrumental in providing opportunities for students to have clinical experiences in various state community facilities. Her activities in all these areas serve to enhance the role of professional nursing in meeting society’s healthcare needs.

Cecelia Pezdek, RN, MSN, MSHA, CGRN: Manager of endoscopy, pain management, infusion and ECT, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill.

Pezdek is responsible for daily operations, budget, staffing, quality improvement and strategic planning, while maintaining patient, physician and staff satisfaction. She has an open door policy in her management role. Based on evidence-based practice, Pezdek is a champion for the promotion of the gastroenterology profession by encouraging nurses to become certified in this field, and as a result, 50 of the nurses in the Endoscopy Center have become board certified in gastroenterology. A recent physician satisfaction survey indicated physicians prefer the endoscopy and ambulatory services staff at Good Samaritan Hospital to those at other facilities. Pezdek developed, reorganized and designed the Endoscopy and Ambulatory Center. She has been recognized for her contributions in various ways, including by receiving the SGNA Fellowship for Evidence-Based Practice. Pezdek presented at the national SGNA conference and the annual Advocate GI Council Education Day. She was a principle investigator in the capnography research project completed in the Endoscopy Center that was awarded first place at the annual SGNA conference. She has also received the MVP Award for Stewardship.

Jennifer Wright, RN, BSN, CNN: Transplant nurse coordinator, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

The transplant program at NMH is one of the largest volume centers in the country. Wright serves in the pre-kidney role with five other professionals. Together, they coordinate the evaluations of nearly 30 new patients every week and maintain a kidney and pancreas waiting list of more than 1,500 patients. The team also coordinates more than 150 living kidney donor transplants each year and coordinates all deceased donor organ transplants. Her work with the kidney transplant program has been exemplary, leading to transplant opportunities for a number of patients who otherwise would remain on dialysis. Her colleagues in transplant recognized her clinical excellence by nominating her for the 2013 Excellence in Nursing Award for the ambulatory and procedural departmental nursing shared leadership committee, where her nomination was endorsed. She serves on the ambulatory and procedural departmental shared leadership committee and transformed the transplantprractice committee into a truly self-governing group. She serves on the genetic and genomics and culture of safety ad hoc nursing taskforce. She is an active member of the Chicago Chapter of the International Transplant Nurses Society, serving on the board from 2012-13.


Meredith Borak, RN, MSN: Patient care manager, rescue care and resiliency, The University of Chicago Medicine

Borak is in charge of the collection, analysis and communication of hospitalwide resuscitation data for all cardiac arrests and rapid response team activations. She has facilitated quality performance improvement initiatives including an emergency equipment standardization project, interdisciplinary mock (simulated) codes, monthly cardiac arrest and RRT debriefings and the implementation of a critical care outreach team to proactively round on high-risk patients admitted to medical-surgical units. She manages five outreach nurses on her team with highly successful outcomes and data. Meredith also works with medical residents to improve resuscitation outcomes and provides direct training to improve their performance in code situations. She has transformed not only the practice of RRT at UCM, but the culture surrounding RRT and codes. She is recently published as lead author in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality. She has presented at national conferences and is one of the leading nursing experts in resuscitation care. Borak is an ACLS trainer of the American Heart Association. She works in conjunction with her physician colleagues on research initiatives aimed at improving resuscitation care. Borak also worked to standardize the emergency crash carts for the medical center. This major project ultimately saved the hospital a large amount of money.

Sarah Elizabeth Buenaventura, RN, MSN, CMSRN, NE-BC: Operations manager, patient care, medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

Buenaventura is responsible for attracting, developing and retaining exceptional caregivers. She is responsible for translating organizational vision into her units and engages team members in contributing to achievement of that vision. She is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. Her integral role in addressing healthcare worker fatigue has gained local and national attention. Buenaventura found that caregiver fatigue posed a threat to the health, safety and satisfaction of patients and employees. She and her colleagues developed six organizational initiatives to mitigate the risks of healthcare worker fatigue. She presented a podium presentation at the AONE National Conference in 2013 and at poster sessions at both the 2012 IONL Conference and the National Magnet Conference in 2013. In February, she had an article published in Nurse Leader regarding her work in caregiver fatigue. She presented her work at the National Magnet Conference in 2011. Buenaventura also presented a poster at the American Nurse Credentialing Center National Magnet Conference, “Creating a Healthy Work Environment: Strategies to Reduce Healthcare Worker Fatigue” in October 2009.

Joyce E. Fitzpatrick, RN, MSN, CNRN: Stroke nurse coordinator, Advocate South Suburban, Hazel Crest, Ill.

Fitzpatrick was hired to start Advocate South Suburban hospital’s stroke program from the ground up. She implemented the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Stroke performance measures and earned the Gold Program Get With the Guidelines in two years. Stroke patients are located on any unit and this dedicated coordinator works with all staff who touch the patient from the time they arrive at the door in the ED to discharge and beyond. Fitzpatrick has earned the respect of each staff nurse and doctor through her patience and commitment. Her responsibilities include implementation, education, audits, coaching and action planning. Fitzpatrick ensures the best practices in stroke care are provided to every patient to improve survival and outcomes. To improve the tPA time frame from door to injection, she coached and encouraged everyone until the program benchmarks for this indicator were 100. Fitzpatrick was presented with the DAISY Award for her compassion shown to stroke patients, and she also has worked as a parish nurse and provides education to church groups throughout the area on recognition of stroke and the importance of early treatment.

Karen Oldfield, RN, BSN, PCCN: Manager of clinical operations/clinical decision unit/short-stay unit, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Oldfield is a manager of clinical operations for two units. The first is a 19-bed clinical decision unit; the second is a 17-bed short stay unit. The use of these units has enabled the ED to have a more consistent area to ease overcrowding and improve throughput. As the manager, Oldfield is responsible for the daily operations of both units and works closely with multiple disciplines to ensure proper use of these beds. With her personality and drive, she was able to help the associates unify together into (or as?) a highly functional team. While these units have independent staff they are in close proximity to each other. They now rely upon each other for assistance and have become a great team within a team. She has encouraged the staff to become certified in their specialty. Oldfield worked tirelessly to make changes and the team is truly beginning to reap those rewards. Her development of the department has allowed the physicians to become comfortable in placing their patients there, freeing up the ED. She is now a mentor to other struggling managers, willingly sharing her expertise. Her never-give-up attitude and strong sense of what makes a team function are just some of the skills she shares.

Adrienne Schultz, RN, MSN: Director of care management, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, Ill.

Schultz leads with courage and innovation in a Magnet culture. She is an exceptional director who values nurses and promotes research-based nursing practice, and she played an integral part in expanding the care management team from 25 to 68. She not only exceeds all expectations in terms of facilitating patient-centered care, she is respected by her staff because she supports and challenges her team members to set and achieve their personal and professional goals. Schultz completed the accelerated development program for emerging leaders at CTCA, and she belongs to the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has embraced the Lean Six Sigma ideology and completed her Greenbelt certification. Schultz has led several Kaizen initiatives for quality improvement, serves on the ethics committee, the nursing transformational leadership council and the continuum of care. Her transformational leadership style is the definition of true leadership. Schultz was instrumental in the development and implementation of the CTCA at Midwestern patient care model, Patient Empowered Care, to coordinate and communicate care. She also developed a remote care manager program and flexible staffing options. She recently completed the holistic nursing educational program and the ensuing poster will be presented in June 2014 at the AHNA national conference.


Mary Antos, RN, MSN: Advanced practice nurse (retired), Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Antos worked in the Inpatient Psychiatry unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center for 27 years. She also works as adjunct faculty at Lewis University for its accelerated nursing program. She is extremely knowledgeable about the care of psychiatric patients. Antos retired in December from her role as APN for the department of psychiatry and substance abuse services. In January, she returned as a volunteer after only being off for a few weeks. Antos continues to serve as a resource to the department through her volunteer services. She volunteers specifically for the department of psychiatry and substance abuse services and works in conjunction with the unit manager and interim APN to complete various administrative tasks such as updating bulletin boards with the department’s key result area information and completing audits on various documentation compliance. Her volunteering sets the bar and opens the door for other volunteers who might want to spend their hours working in the psychiatric department.

Kendra Calawerts, RN, BSN, OCN: Nurse clinician, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago

Calawerts channeled her creativity and passion to create a hair donation event for women undergoing cancer treatment. She chaired the first Make the Cut hair donation event in 2012. In the two years that the hospital has hosted this event, more than 200 ponytails from more than 100 donors have been collected for the creation of natural hair wigs for women receiving chemotherapy. She wanted to share her experience with other nurses around the country so that they could lead similar events for their patients. As a member of the Oncology Nursing Society, she presented this work at the national Oncology Nursing Society Congress in 2013. At the meeting she had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of nurses around the country about this event and how to create a grassroots program at their own organizations. She is chemotherapy and biotherapy certified through the Oncology Nursing Society.

Patti Jo Jarvis, RN, BSA: RN, care manager, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, Ill.

Jarvis’ strong faith sets the foundation for everything in her life. She dedicates a large majority of her time to her community and her church. She brings communion to those sick at home, in the hospital or in nursing homes and serves on the governing board of the church. Patti also belongs to the Grayslake (Ill.) Lions Club, where she helps organize fundraising events. During the holidays, she appears as the Easter Bunny for Winthrop Harbor, Ill., and as Mrs. Claus for the city of Zion. She spends much of her personal time making blankets, hats and other crafts, and she donates them to patients. Jarvis volunteers her time unselfishly, and she makes a positive difference in the lives of those she touches. No matter what it is, she is always going above and beyond the call with a smile and is a blessing to everyone she meets, said her nominator. She belongs to the care management unit-based council and was appointed council secretary. Jarvis has received multiple Moments of Truth awards and Stakeholder to Stakeholder recognition for consistently putting patients first or going above and beyond her regular job. In September 2013, she was awarded the DAISY Award for Exemplary Nursing.

Trisha Kupczyk, RN, BSN, CCRN: Registered nurse, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

On Nov. 17, Washington, Ill., was devastated by an EF-4 tornado that swept through the town leaving seven people dead, dozens injured and hundreds homeless. When hearing the news, Kupczyk, who is savvy with social media, immediately took to Facebook to find out what the needs of the community were. In the following days and weeks, she made numerous trips to the devastated area delivering food, clothing, blankets, household items, pet food and gift cards, all donated by her friends, family and their friends and family. She adopted a family affected by the storm and took her own savings to provide new clothing, shoes, food and Christmas gifts for this family of six who lost everything. Kupczyk and a few of her colleagues have purchased construction attire to help with the demolition process and the rebuilding that will follow. She is working on teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to provide more help in the reconstruction process. Others have been so inspired by her work that she has received requests from groups such as the Girl Scouts of America and religious groups to speak about her experience and the virtues of giving.

Colleen Vanderwarren, RN, BSN: Registered nurse, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.

Vanderwarren is an outstanding nurse and citizen who has impacted thousands of lives. She is a consistent supporter of area Public Action to Deliver Shelters shelters and during her service as unit council chairwoman she was able to open the door for many to serve. She led in the collection of more than 900 pairs of socks and undergarments for PADS, and she also helped the unit council in collecting almost 100 backpacks, children’s books and stuffed animals along with coordinating opportunities for staff to host meals at the shelter. Vanderwarren led a project that provided enough money to send two patients to Beyond Barriers spinal cord camp and to Camp Fun Zone brain injury camp. Vanderwarren also led a clothing drive to support those affected by an earthquake in the Philippines and continues to organize the unit patient clothing closet. Vanderwarren led a paper product drive that served the South Side of Chicago, where corporate donations filled a 53-foot truck with adult and infant diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, sanitary products, baby wipes and facial tissues. In October 2013, she led a drive where 750 coats were collected and distributed. Vanderwarren has an ability to inspire others to action, which demonstrates her desire to influence others to extend human kindness.

By | 2015-04-23T21:14:45-04:00 April 15th, 2014|Categories: Awards, GEM Awards, Greater Chicago, Regional|0 Comments

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