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Children’s Hospital Stanford celebrates national GEM Award winner

When Linda W. Ritter, RN, CPON, graciously accepted the national GEM Award in the category of Clinical Nursing, Inpatient, she thanked her family and colleagues for their support and dedication, and then turned to her dream team, presenting each of them with their own gem.

“These members of the palliative care committee are passionate about working together and providing the very much needed palliative care to our patients and families. and they are my ‘gems’ and a dream team,” Ritter said.

Described by her nominator as a visionary and an innovative doer with a big, beautiful heart and a truly compassionate soul, Ritter is a clinical nurse IV on the pediatric oncology-stem cell transplant unit at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Palo Alto, Calif.

During the Oct. 21 ceremony at the facility, Chief Nurse Executive Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, explained the Giving Excellence Meaning program and the scope of what Ritter had achieved in being named a national winner.

“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,” Williamson said. “One nurse in each of the six categories is chosen to be a national winner. Linda Ritter is one of those six, so what she has achieved is amazing.”

Williamson presented Susan Costello, PhD, RN, vice president, patient care service and CNE, with a facility plaque, recognizing Children’s as home to a national winner.

Costello talked about Ritter’s leadership in developing and implementing a palliative care program for the facility’s oncology patients and their families and credited Ritter for inspiring changes throughout the organization.

“She is known among her colleagues as a compassionate and focused nurse who selflessly contributes to making the lives of our patients healthier and happy,” Costello said.

Held in high esteem

Susan Costello, RN, vice president, patient care service and CNE, left, and Linda Ritter, RN, clinical nurse IV, proudly display the GEM facility plaque, recognizing Children’s as home to a national winner.

In the nomination, Leslie Griffith, BSN, RN, MA, CPHON, staff nurse, praised Ritter as someone who embodies excellence and is held in high esteem for the care she provides to the sickest and most complex of pediatric patients. “She is a person with idealism and dedication and a work ethic and ability to create change, even in a large institutional setting,” she said. Ritter’s sensitivity for dying patients is “a gift,” Griffith said, and the fact that she has held onto it through all her years of nursing is a true inspiration to others.

Respected for her knowledge, expertise and passion for palliative care, Ritter works under the motto: “Changing the Culture: Honoring the Child.” To improve patient pain control she sought out a dream team of colleagues who had an interest in palliative care and formed a Palliative Care Committee to provide excellence in pediatric palliative and end-of-life care through education and evidenced-based nursing interventions and practice.

She created a survey for staff to measure the need for more support and education, and after going through the End of Life Care Nursing Education Consortium program, she initiated a yearly ELNEC program at Stanford Children’s, where she has coordinated programming and speakers and helped the program grow and evolve for more than four years.

Meaningful touches for patients and families

During the GEM reception, Clinical Nurse IV Linda Ritter, RN, (far left) thanked her dream team (from left): Staff nurses Leslie Griffith, RN, Cassi Burhans, RN, Jill Hyland, RN, Renee Letsinger, RN, and Stephanie Williams, RN.

With her colleagues, Ritter created current-event staff meetings, staff mini-retreats and a staff palliative care manual. She implemented changes in staffing ratios for end-of-life patients and added many meaningful touches for patients and families.

Some special ones included a comfort cart, a holiday giving tree, starfish door decals for patients on end-of-life care and turtle door decals for families desiring privacy. They also initiated starfish pins and certificates to acknowledge staff for their compassion and excellence in end-of-life care; arranged for new furniture for the serenity room; and promoted music on the unit with CD players, IPODS, I-PADS and live musicians.

The ripple effects of Ritter’s vision for excellence and tireless commitment have been enormous, said Griffith. The many tangible changes she has made have impacted patient care and improved the delivery of palliative care by staff on a unit and a hospitalwide basis. Stanford Children’s team feels fortunate that Ritter decided to become a nurse — and they believe the world is a little bit better because of the difference she has made in it.

By | 2020-04-15T09:18:10-04:00 November 10th, 2014|Categories: Regional, West|0 Comments

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