You are here:-, GEM Awards, Regional, West-Meet the 2014 Mountain West GEM Award finalists

Meet the 2014 Mountain West GEM Award finalists is proud to introduce our 2014 finalists for the GEM (Giving Excellence
Meaning) Awards.

The 24 Mountain West region finalists below will be honored June 20 at a gala event in Chandler, Ariz., at the Wild Horse Pass Resort and Casino.

For tickets or more information, visit


Sunniva Zaratkiewicz, RN, BSN, PhD(c), CWCN: Wound, ostomy and limb preservation program manager at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle

Besides leading the WOLP team, Zaratkiewicz is involved in wound care quality and process improvement committees. Her expertise has earned her the respect of nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners and allied health professionals. She is a sought-after speaker on wound issues, particularly pressure ulcers. She is brilliant, direct, well-spoken, approachable, fearless, tireless and has a wonderful sense of humor. She is committed to care for underserved patients and envisions increasing access to wound care using a mobile van. At Harborview, Zaratkiewicz is working with analysts to develop an integrated wound data base with the goal of improving wound care. It’s not uncommon to see her working evenings and weekends to meet the demands of her speaking engagements. She is enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Washington, studying the challenge of unstageable pressure ulcers with the goal of contributing to the science behind identification and treatment of this type of wound. Her impact on patients is evident in cases where patients ask for her by name, knowing she truly understands their condition.

Kim E.Williams, RN, MS, CENP, NE-BC: Chief nursing officer at Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett, Wash.

Williams is accountable for all acute care and outpatient services and departments. Before her recent appointment, she served as CNO for seven years. Williams is a strong advocate for nursing, but supports interdisciplinary collaboration and includes other professional service leaders in the nursing leadership group. She encourages, challenges and provides opportunities for her entire team to grow and excel in their leadership roles. She is true to her word and can be counted on to follow through with every task she undertakes. She is a winner of the Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives Authentic Leader Award. Because of her vision of nursing’s authority, responsibility and accountability for professional nursing practice, Williams led the staff to develop nursing shared governance at PRMC. As a result of Williams’ commitment to excellence in patient care delivery, the entire organization is aligned in support of the journey to Magnet status and submission of their application by 2015. Williams is a board member for the Washington Center for Nursing and the Northwest Organization of
Nurse Executives.

Maria Quimba, RN, MA, MBA, MSN: Assistant dean, professional studies at Grand Canyon
University, Phoenix

Quimba is setting the pace for healthcare education at one of Arizona’s largest nursing colleges. She oversees strategic growth and development of professional studies for more than 6,200 students across four campuses and 46 affiliate sites in 27 states. Her hard-driving and determined nature inspires everyone who works with her, and she has helped forge critical partnerships with influential healthcare groups. She persuaded Banner Health to bring GCU’s nursing programs to their hospitals to increase educational access to nurses who are striving to advance their degrees. To inspire the next generation of nurses to continue their education, Quimba created a two-pronged program that incorporates graduate level studies into undergraduate programs. She understands the importance of helping nursing students build their confidence and commitment to the profession by giving them a specific area of emphasis and by creating virtual hospitals where newly learned skills can be applied. Quimba’s novel program allows students to make patient care decisions while collaborating with other colleagues in the hospital system. The success of this program is fueling development of additional simulations, including a virtual community and home health centers.

Janeen Dahn, PhD, FNP-BC: Assistant dean, nursing division, University of Phoenix and Arizona State Board of Nursing, Tempe, Ariz.

Dahn oversees four NP programs in two states and assists with curriculum development and regulatory assurance for the largest nursing program in the country. As an advanced practice consultant for the Arizona State Board of Nursing and past president of the Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council Chapter 9, Dahn works tirelessly to advance the role of NPs in the state. She does consulting for Arizona Advanced Practice Nurses, of which there are now more than 4,000. At the University of Phoenix, Dahn ensures the Family NP program maintains the highest standards and is in alignment with accrediting bodies and national organizations. She is responsible for more than 400 FNP students and assists with 13,000 nursing students in 50 states. She believes in proactive involvement and education and was instrumental in organizing and presenting a course on advanced pain management for Arizona nurse practitioners that had one of the highest attendance rates in Arizona history. She also assisted with planning and preparation of the Southwest Arizona Nurse Practitioner Symposium for its 30th year.


Shannon L. Koty, BSN, CPN: Registered nurse Cardon Children’s Medical Center-Banner Health
Mesa, Ariz.

Koty is the interim RN manager for the night shift. She regularly receives praise from patients, families and colleagues and is the recipient of a Good Catch Award for patient safety, something she considers a top priority. Koty also has been nominated for Banner Health’s Nurses Week awards. She is considered a great educator who makes teaching moments out of most situations in a way that makes others eager to learn more. She is a role model to the new oncology nurses she precepts and is valued for her expertise in pediatric oncology as well as her compassionate and caring manner. Koty often is the first person to volunteer to be part of process improvement initiatives. She is a Magnet unit champion and shares the experience she gained from working at a Magnet hospital. Koty is passionate about pain management and is a resource for the unit’s staff. She presented new knowledge she gained from attending a pediatric oncology nursing conference to the unit’s nursing staff.

Heidi Riebe, RN, BSN: Registered nurse, Mayo Clinic Hospital, Phoenix

Riebe is admired by co-workers for going above and beyond to provide excellent patient care, putting patients’ needs first, and being a valuable resource to all staff. Many on her team have given her the highest praise, commenting that if they were ever patients on the unit, they would want her to be their nurse. One of Riebe’s patients who was hospitalized for a bone marrow treatment seven years ago comes to the unit every Christmas Eve to say thank you for the care she gave that saved his life. She is the first person among staff to suggest buying flowers or a card for a co-worker who has suffered a loss. Riebe is a hardworking role model who is always willing to help any team member to ensure prompt, high-quality patient care. She treats all patients with respect, kindness and patience, offering massages and other comfort measures at bedtime to enhance patient comfort and well-being. One of her colleagues testified that Riebe is an exceptional nurse whose upbeat attitude, laugh and smile are contagious and make work fun.

Mario Rafael Lluria, RN, BSN, WOCN: Wound, ostomy and continence nurse, The University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson, Ariz.

Lluria, who leads the skin care team at UAMC, was recognized as a Fabulous Fifty Nurse of Tucson and won the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses. Patients love him for his kindness and tender loving care. He excels at helping patients adjust to their ostomies. He has implemented many new and innovative wound and ostomy healthcare practices at UAMC, and he organized a wound and ostomy conference for the nurses and the community. Due to Lluria’s care and leadership, measurable patient outcomes have improved, including decreased skin breakdown, increased wear time of ostomy bags, and higher patient satisfaction. Known for his professional knowledge and expertise in pediatric and adult skin care, he has published and presented numerous articles on burns, wounds and incontinence. He is a member of the American Association of Men in Nursing, Wound Healing Society, American Burn Association, Arizona Organization of Nurse Executives, Wound, Ostomy Continence Nursing Society and Sigma Theta Tau. Lluria also is a nursing historian and maintains a collection of nursing antiques such as old uniforms
and bedpans.

Sarah E. Cooper, RN, BSN: Registered nurse, Tucson (Ariz.) Medical Center

Cooper came to the department as a student nurse, but the nurse manager who nominated Cooper found she was “amazing, charming, smart and wise way beyond the level of student” and recruited her to to the unit as a graduate nurse. One difference Cooper makes to patient care is that she gives every patient the feeling they are her only patient, even on the busiest of days. Patients say she stands out as the person who does extra things for them, such as ensuring they are comfortable, holding their hand when they are afraid and giving them confidence that they will become stronger and return home. Cooper is an exemplary charge nurse who fosters a can-do attitude in new nurses. She is a member of the nursing peer review team, which examines the documentation of care provided to patients, and suggests processes to reduce the likelihood of mistakes. Cooper is well-organized and compassionate and always gives her all to her patients and team members. She remembers her patients’ names and what is important to them without having to ask a second time.


Maureen Delage, RN-BC, MS: Clinical educator, CPM coordinator, University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, Tucson

Delage, who has a deep commitment to her job, is responsible for mentoring new graduate nurses and is inspired by their passion as they start their nursing careers. She is reliable, known to be a clear thinker with the ability to focus on the salient points of an issue to bring groups together with a common plan. Her opinions are valued by administrators as is her focus to promote what’s best for the nursing community. With a strong understanding of the needs of the geriatric population, Delage is a leader who guided her facility to becoming NICHE certified. She moved the process of certification through its many stages, including needs assessment, building the nursing community, implementing educational sessions and maintaining the vision. As the NICHE program expands to other departments, Delage will continue to be in the forefront, leading her staff to be knowledgeable, compassionate care providers to vulnerable elderly patients. Delage is a member of several advisory boards, including the Arizona Geriatric Education Center, Pima Community College Nursing Program and Pima Medical Institute Nursing Program.

Heather Bachman, RN, MSN, PCCN: Clinical educator, Tucson (Ariz.) Medical Center

Bachman is responsible for clinical education for the cardiac telemetry, catheterization lab, GI lab, critical care and cardiac step-down units. She leads several organization-wide quality initiatives and the professional nursing practice shared governance council. Bachman was selected to receive extensive training enabling her to serve as a nurse integrative health specialist for the Canyon Ranch Life Enhancement Program. She believes if the organization takes care of its nurses, they in turn will be able to take better care of their patients. Her leadership efforts in the fall reduction program resulted in significant reductions in fall rates. She partnered with the geriatric steering committee to reduce falls with initiatives such as delirium reduction, sleep promotion protocols and monitoring medications in the geriatric population. Bachman played an integral role in developing the new grad residency program for nurses, titled “Transitioning, Mentoring and Conquering.” This program, which has won regional and state recognition for its innovation, features small group sessions where challenging patient scenarios are discussed. Bachman attends the Institute of Health Improvement annual conferences and presents information there using humor, video clips and cartoons that keep her audience engaged and laughing.

Linda M. Olson, RNC, CCE, IBCLC, BS: Registered nurse, OB, Kingman (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center

Olson’s responsibilities include educating and training nurses in her department and assisting in educational programs for the medical center staff and the community. Olson works with the director of the education department, and has helped restructure and organize the OB orientation program. She ensures that every staff member is trained and cross-trained in the OB department and is knowledgeable about the best evidence-based practices. Olson is recognized as someone who does anything and everything necessary to care for her patients. She is an American Heart Association instructor who teaches basic life support, a neonatal resuscitation instructor, a STABLE lead instructor, a board-certified lactation consultant, OB preceptor and a certified childbirth educator. The KRMC OB department primarily serves uncomplicated, low-risk mothers and babies, but when a high-risk situation develops, Olson often is the first person called upon to help stabilize these patients and make sure they receive the best possible care until they can be transferred out. Last year, Olson was recognized for Women Making History, acknowledging her for the professionalism and dedication she brings to her community, patients and staff.

Roxanne D. Flynn, RN, BSN, CMS-RN: RN educator and administrative representative at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Healthcare

Flynn serves in a variety of roles inside and outside the hospital. She is a hospital-wide supervisor who responds to emergent needs and assists staff in finding resources and problem-solving at all levels. She is a system-wide clinical support nurse for the emergency and disaster preparedness department, creating and facilitating educational programs and annual drills. As a clinical educator for three military medical programs, she provides training in the classroom, simulation lab and hospital clinical areas. She supports the Air Force new graduate nursing program, as well as a critical care/trauma nursing fellowship for experienced Air Force nurses. Flynn also is an adjunct clinical instructor at Grand Canyon University. Outside her hospital work, Flynn volunteers as a paramedic for a rural fire department in northern Arizona, and received the 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award. She responds to 911 calls, teaches CPR and presents continuing education topics such as trauma, emergency medicine and pediatrics. After the 2012 Haiti earthquake, Flynn volunteered at a hospital there. In 2013, she traveled to Ireland and volunteered at the Cork University Hospital trauma center.


Lizabeth Gober, RN, BSN, NNP, BC-CHPN, CHPPN, Pediatric hospice clinical supervisor, University of New Mexico Hospitals, Albuquerque

Gober created the pediatric hospice program, which is the only one of its kind in New Mexico. She has grown the program from an average census of three or four per day to a daily census of 10 to 12 patients. Gober advocates for this special population of patients and families who might benefit from pediatric hospice. She presents in-services at UNM Hospitals and other local organizations. She is a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, and maintains membership in the New Mexico Organization of Nurse Leaders, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association and the National Case Management Association. Gober meets the needs of her hospice patients and families in a unique way, often parking a mobile home in their neighborhood so hospice nurses are readily available. To extend care and support to patients who live outside the 60-mile service radius of the program, Gober collaborates with statewide agencies and trains their staffs so children can have hospice in their own communities. She instituted a program that allows providers throughout the state to call a toll-free number to obtain answers about end-of-life care for children.

Stacy McSharry, RN, RN case manager, PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Home Health and Hospice,Florence, Ore.

She manages a home care patient caseload of 12 to 20 patients at a time. McSharry is always willing to lend a hand. She routinely takes overnight call for both health and hospice patients and volunteers to do extra weekends or extra visits. She works efficiently and independently but is not afraid to ask for help. One staff member whose elderly mother became a patient of McSharry’s called her a special nurse, who educates her patients and puts them at ease in a kind, comforting manner. McSharry is responsible for precepting all the new nurses, ensuring they are trained thoroughly and understand the flow of home care nursing. Patient satisfaction scores have improved since McSharry set the bar for the rest of the team. Her commitment to her patients sets her apart as she keeps them at the forefront of all of her planning and organizing. She serves on a Quality Improvement team, working to improve outcome scores on ambulation and fall prevention. She is slated to attend the Oregon Home Care Association Leadership conference this year.

Andrea Mickelsen, RN-BC, BSN, CHFN:, Assistant nurse manager, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle

Mickelsen is responsible for the clinical competency of her staff and the nursing care provided at the clinic. She has been a part of the cardiology clinic for 17 years and is a highly knowledgeable and competent professional. Her passion and good humor make her patients feel well cared for and comfortable. She manages multiple issues daily, communicating with providers and service lines while keeping her patients at the forefront. Physicians who work with her say she is the glue that keeps the cardiology clinic together. Her attention to medical and psychosocial issues helps the team formulate care plans that consider the patients’ strengths and limitations. Mickelsen is well-organized and handles many aspects of patient follow-up and evaluation, including monitoring responses to medication changes and following up on labs and other studies. She’s a can-do person, who often goes with patients being transferred to the hospital so they do not feel alone. Her support of patients’ family members is exemplary, and she has attended multiple funerals to show her respect. Her performance consistently goes above and beyond the rest, and patients know they can always call on her for help.

Pam Budge, RN, BSN: Registered nurse, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Budge is responsible for direct ambulatory patient care, collaborating with NPs and physicians to implement care plans and interpret medical information for families in the clinic, particularly around surgical decision-making. She covers telephone triage calls and interacts with an average of 15 to 20 patients per day. Budge can be counted on to expertly, kindly and competently do her job every day. When a child with many complications requires an advocate, Budge is the nurse to do so. Budge is an unsung hero who provides families under stress with a wealth of nursing experience, expertise and compassion. She partners with families to ensure they understand the plan of care, and that the next steps are clear and are completed. She is tenacious and persistent when she feels a family needs more information or help, qualities that lead to optimal outcomes for families. Budge is a team player who never allows a colleague to struggle alone. She offers staff help and expertise and is generous with her time. She is not satisfied with the status quo unless it is truly meeting the needs of patients and families.


Yolanda M. Morales, PhD, PM-HCNS, BC: Advanced practice nurse, University of New Mexico Psychiatric Center, Albuquerque, N.M.

Morales is hard working, independent, responsible and highly respected by her colleagues. She works full time serving an indigent population with severe and persistent mental illness, yet devotes one day a week in rural Bernalillo County to serving patients without access to psychiatric care. She is committed to ensuring her urgent care patients get the follow-up support they need, and initiated a process in which the most vulnerable patients receive a telephone call from an RN or NP at one-day, one-week and one-month intervals. In an effort to attract practitioners to the facility, Morales took the initiative to have the UNMH Psychiatric Center apply for HRSA designation. With the designation, qualified staff are eligible to receive student loan repayment awards. In addition to her clinical work, Morales lectures to advance practice and undergraduate students on psycho-pharmacology and psycho-pathology. She has presented her innovative research at national and international conferences, including the Western Institute of Nursing and the International Custody and Caring Forensic Conference.

Teresa Lynn Capriotti, RN, BSN: Nursing supervisor II, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Healthcare –
Thompson Peak

Capriotti works in a unique setting consisting of a diagnostic lab, a cardiac cath lab and interventional radiology, where she uses a special talent to unify staff to achieve excellence in patient care. Her ability to assemble a team of expert nurses and techs has enabled Thompson Peak to achieve 100% success in the national standard of 90-minute door-to-balloon time and achieve status as a certified chest pain center and a peripheral vascular center of excellence. From equipment choices to room remodeling, Capriotti empowers her staff by including them in decisions. Under her management, the number of lab procedures completed in the past three years has grown significantly, and the lab has performed above budget every month since her arrival. She is involved in the heart and vascular, integration and rapid process improvement committees. She helped Scottsdale Healthcare achieve the Southwest Alliance for Excellence Award in 2013. Capriotti is a member of the hospital’s speakers bureau, giving talks on heart and vascular disease at public libraries, senior centers and at Arizona State University.

Rosemary Catherine Ford, RN, BSN, BA: Transplant clinic nurse manager, Seattle Cancer
Care Alliance

Ford is responsible for more than 100 staff members at one of the largest transplant programs in the country, with more than 500 patients per year receiving transplants. Ford serves patients at various points in the continuum of care, from initial consult through the transplant process, including long-term follow-up and survivorship. One measure of her success as a leader and manager is the longevity of her clinical nursing staff, averaging 15 years of service. Ford acknowledges each staff member’s talents and helps build their expertise and professional care-giving capacity. She has made significant contributions in the field of bone marrow transplant and her knowledge of infection control, nutrition, chemotherapy and radiation guidelines has set the foundation for care delivery at SCCA. Ford has served as a pivotal member of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Research Tandem meeting for more than 20 years. She is an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society and has served on task force boards. Ford participates in the National Marrow Donor Programs System Capacity Initiative, addressing workforce and infrastructure challenges to meet the demand for skilled bone marrow transplant nurses.

Dineke Hartling, RN, MBA, BScN: Clinical informatics program director, Banner Health, Phoenix

Hartling is responsible for the design and use of the EMR throughout Banner’s 24 hospitals in seven states. She leads by influence, participating in system-wide teams to find opportunities where the EMR can serve as a tool to drive best clinical practice. Hartling evaluates how clinicians use the EMR products, identifies and corrects gaps or redundancies in documentation, and develops clinical decision-support alerts and rules to coordinate best clinical practices. She is a leader on the clinical informatics team, mentoring less experienced staff and sharing her expertise with everyone. Hartling designed documentation and clinical decision-support tools to drive best practice and early intervention for critical care patients with delirium, a complication that often is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Since implementation of these tools, the hospital has seen a sustained improvement of delirium identification and mortality rates. She has presented her work in clinical informatics at several conferences, allowing her to influence other healthcare organizations. She presented her project at the American Nursing Informatics Association conference in April in Las Vegas.


Dawne Estrada, RN: Clinical documentation specialist, University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson

Estrada works with the medical team to ensure thorough and accurate physician documentation at the medical center. She is relied on to be the team’s daily cheerleader and motivator. She keeps her staff smiling and the physicians well-educated and up to date on documentation guidelines and coding requirements. With her positive attitude and team approach, Estrada makes the work environment enjoyable for all of her co-workers. With a strong commitment to her community, she participated in the Walk the Loop for Lupus, the silent auctio,n and helped raise funds and awareness for lupus research. She was the department’s chairwoman for United Way and participated in the Rock the Runway fashion show for the Diamond Children’s Center. Each year at Christmas, she involves her family in giving back to the community through volunteer activities, such as collecting and distributing toys to needy children at the Tucson Miracle on 31st Street event or volunteering at the Vail community food bank. In 2011, after the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Estrada read and sorted the memorial letters, and carefully packed the stuffed animals, candles and flowers to be used for a future memorial.

Caylin S. Stroupe, RN, MPH: Registered nurse, University of Arizona Medical Center, Tucson

Stroupe leaves a positive and lasting impression on everyone she meets. Words commonly used to describe her are “amazing,” “selfless” and “full of grace.” She leads by example, and she puts the lives of children before all else. One example of her humanitarian efforts is the work she did at an orphanage and refugee camp in Sudan with Samaritans Purse. She recently became a foster/adoptive mother to a special child who had to overcome horrific circumstances. She writes a blog to inspire others to serve humanity. Her nominator quoted a sample of her philosophy taken from her blog: “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourself to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.”

Justin Dennery, RN, BSN: Registered nurse, Mayo Clinic Hospital, Phoenix

He cares for patients with complex and challenging diagnoses, including patients with total artificial heart and circulatory system devices, patients with heart transplants and patients with end-stage heart failure and significant dysrhythmias, which require highly skilled nursing coordination and care. Dennery has nursing skills that were honed during his international experiences in post-disaster and epidemic contexts in Haiti, Africa and Southeast Asia. After the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, Dennery lead a team to the hardest hit coastal regions to provide medical support. He also conducted first aid trainings for Thai aid workers at the international relief agency, Food for the Hungry. In 2007, he led a mobile medical hospital outreach project in Kenya and Uganda, treating patients with severe malnutrition and anthrax exposure. He spent a month in Swaziland in 2010 working in a rural clinic and providing treatment to orphans affected by HIV/AIDS. After the earthquake in Haiti in 2011, Dennery lived in Haiti for a year and helped manage a cholera treatment program, including supervisory oversight of two 24-hour treatment facilities with more than 240 beds.

Gloria Sue Doherty, RN, MSN, AHNS, ACNP-BC: Executive director, inpatient providers and respiratory services, University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque

Doherty is a role model for nursing advocacy while working as a nurse practitioner, administrator and pursuing a doctorate in public policy. She empowers providers to enhance their practice and expand their roles within the organization. She is a pioneer in her field, and one of the first acute care nurse practitioners in New Mexico. She believes nurses need to use their voices to change the world through role modeling, mentoring, leading, educating and engaging in political activism. She is a champion for nurse involvement in policy and decision-making, and her ultimate goal is to run for office and represent nursing in the state capital. Doherty is involved in many professional nursing organizations, and is vice president of the New Mexico Nurses Association. She meets regularly with state legislators and helped support the passage of Senate Bill 342 by encouraging collaboration between nurses and physician allies in efforts to call representatives and attend committee hearings. The passage of this bill protected the skills and resources nurses use daily to care for patients. Doherty also initiated an annual legislative night to educate local representatives about nursing issues.

— Compiled by Donna Novak

By | 2015-04-23T21:22:55-04:00 June 9th, 2014|Categories: Awards, GEM Awards, Regional, West|0 Comments

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