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Atlantic Health System celebrates national GEM Award recipient

Trish O’Keefe, PhD, RN, NE-BC, CNO and chief experience officer at Morristown Medical Center, recalled her delight the night of June 3 when colleague Denise Fochesto, MSN, APN-C, RN, CCRN, was named’s New York/New Jersey regional GEM Awards winner in the Patient and Staff Management category.

“We were very proud of her and continued to celebrate,” O’Keefe said. “But then her nomination moved forward to a national level.”

Fochesto was recognized in’s Sept. 15 issue as the national GEM Awards winner in her category, setting off another cause for celebration. “We were very, very pleased to hear from ( that our dear Denise had received the national award,” O’Keefe said.

She and her colleagues from throughout Atlantic Health System shared their joy once more at an Oct. 14 congratulatory reception for Fochesto.

Executives and staff from Morristown and Newton medical centers joined family, friends and colleagues for the reception.

O’Keefe told the audience how she has watched Fochesto grow professionally while managing the ICU, MICU and hyperbaric units at Morristown, and expressed pride in seeing Fochesto become the new director of nursing and operations at Newton (N.J.) Medical Center, another Atlantic Health System hospital. “From my heart and from many around the room, we are extremely proud of you,” O’Keefe said.

Before presenting the award, Chief Nurse Executive Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, discussed the GEM (Giving Excellence Meaning) program.

“After six winners in each region are selected at our GEM events, a second judging process on blinded nominations is carried out for the national phase of the program from among 54 regional winners,” she said. “One nurse in each of the six categories – Advancing and Leading the Profession; Clinical Nursing, Inpatient; Education and Mentorship; Home, Community and Ambulatory Care; Patient and Staff Management; and Volunteerism and Service – is chosen to be a national winner. Denise Fochesto is one of those six nurses, so what she has achieved is amazing.”

Williamson read highlights from Fochesto’s nomination, written by Morristown colleague and former GEM winner, Patricia Primmer, MA, RN, CMSRN.

Under Fochesto’s leadership, according to Primmer, Morristown’s hyperbaric medicine service received accreditation with distinction from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Fochesto also is credited with promoting the continuing education and certification of the critical care nursing staff, of which 100% are certified. Fochesto served as project leader for Joint Commission accreditation for disease-specific certification for total hip and knee replacement and for lumbar and cervical spine disease-specific certification. A grant proposal and business plan she wrote secured funds for an animal-assisted activities program to enhance the healing experiences of patients and families that was adopted systemwide and led to the creation of a center of excellence for animal-assisted therapy.

“When I called (Fochesto) to notify her of her win, she told me it was truly an honor to be recognized with this prestigious award amongst so many exceptional nurses throughout the country,” Williamson said. “It is said that the most effective leaders are those who empower their staff, and she is one of those managers. She in turn, however, is quick to credit her staff as the reason she is so successful.”

Williamson and Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN,’s nurse editor and nurse executive, presented Fochesto with an obelisk bearing her achievement and a one-of-a-kind framed cover photo featuring Fochesto. The two also presented a signed copy of “The American Nurse” coffee table book to Fochesto and a plaque to O’Keefe that signifies Morristown as the home of a national GEM winner.

“[This win] is so bittersweet but so exciting,” Fochesto said. “I’ve had the honor of attending a few of the regional galas as a guest, and to be a recipient is very humbling.”

Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.


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By | 2018-01-19T18:42:12-05:00 October 31st, 2014|Categories: Nursing Awards|0 Comments

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