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Meet the 2015 Greater Chicago GEM Awards finalists

This year’s Greater Chicago GEM Awards finalists are among the best of the best in the profession. Thirty finalists are honored from 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.

Here are the 2015 Greater Chicago GEM Awards finalists:

Advancing and Leading the Profession

Kim Lucille Armour, PhD, NP-BC, RDMS, NEA-BC, director, women’s health, Prentice Women’s Hospital, Northwestern Medicine, Chicago. Expertise as a clinician, academician and organizational leader distinguish Armour as an outstanding example of nursing excellence. She has received local, regional and national recognition. In complement to her academic and clinical contributions to obstetrics and women’s health, she consistently exhibits her dedication to patients.

Cynthia Barginere, DNP, RN, FACHE, vice president, CNO, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. As a Magnet commissioner, Barginere’s leadership style is one of empowerment and belief that the strength she has built in her leadership team will bring about positive outcomes for patients and staff. Her collaboration with RUMC’s human resource department to develop a succession planning program has received high marks.

Mary Hillard, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president, patient care and clinical operations, CNE, Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville, Ill. Demonstrating strong leadership, Hillard gained the trust of all nurses, giving each a voice to be heard by developing a robust shared governance structure. She strengthened clinical programs leading to designations that include stroke, chest pain, level I trauma, EDAP, breast center and Truven Top 100 Status.

Debra A. O’Donnell, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNO and vice president of patient care services, Northwestern Medicine — West Region, Winfield, Ill. Described as someone who has changed the culture of nursing, O’Donnell partnered with nursing staff and leaders to develop and implement a vision for nursing with a strategic plan including a professional practice model and a career advancement program. She oversaw the achievement of the initial Magnet designation.

Candice Phillips, PhD, RN, APRN, CNM, CNE, faculty development specialist, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downers Grove, Ill. As a faculty development specialist, Phillips has had a profound impact on faculty, students, nursing and nursing education. She was an early champion of continuous quality improvement through Quality Matters course design and nursing education excellence through scholarly teaching and mentoring faculty.

Clinical Nursing, Inpatient

Elizabeth Barrera, RN-BC, staff nurse, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Glenview, Ill. In 2012, Barrera became the first certified medical-surgical nurse on her unit, setting the example for her colleagues. With 36 years experience at the bedside in oncology and hospice, she is a preceptor, expert clinical resource, coach enthusiast, counselor and friend, creating a caring, comforting environment for patients and staff.

Jaime Biagioni, BSN, RN, CCRN, interim clinical practice partner, Advocate Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, Ill. As one of only 35 nurse clinician IVs, Biagioni recently became the dyad partner as the interim clinical practice specialist in the PICU. She participates on multiple committees and served as co-investigator for two research projects. She earned her CCRN in three years, is a PALS instructor and is trained in ECMO.

Elizabeth Day, MSN, RN, CCNS, CCRN, RN3, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Tireless in the pursuit of clinical issues, Day provides quality patient care as a dedicated RN3. She is a champion for progressive mobility, participates in multidisciplinary team projects, serves as chairwoman for the unit’s staff education committee and is the department chairwoman of the ICU policy and procedure committee.

Dwayne Dobschuetz, MSN, RN, clinical nurse, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, Chicago. His willingness and ability to be a trailblazer made Dobschuetz an obvious choice to lead the geriatric emergency department initiative, which improves the care of elderly patients in the ED. He has been highlighted for his great work in the program, which has significantly reduced admission and readmission rates for this population.

Barbara Labuda, MSN, RNC-NIC, nurse clinical IV, Advocate Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, Ill. Labuda is master’s prepared and prefers to stay at the bedside. Her ownership of unit orientation and the work she has done to improve that program is commendable. She recently won the Robyn Main award for Clinical Excellence by the National Association of Neonatal Nursing for her outstanding work with neonates.

Education and Mentorship

Manisa Baker, MSN, RN, APN, CCRN, CCNS, ICU clinical nurse specialist, Advocate South Suburban Hospital, Hazel Crest, Ill. As a clinical expert, Baker strives for excellence. She orients the nursing staff and leads the sepsis task force, the ventilator-associated pneumonia program and the EICU orientation program with excellent outcomes. Under her leadership, the ICU new graduate orientation and mentorship program was successfully implemented and is approved for publishing.

Beth Brooks, PhD, RN, FACHE, president, Resurrection University, Chicago. Brooks’ doctoral studies resulted in the creation of Brooks’ Quality of Nursing Work Life Survey, which has been used in 13 countries and most recently was translated into Chinese. She introduced the Executive Format MSN Program, which provides the knowledge nurses need to play a key role in the future of nursing.

Beth-Anne Christopher, MS, RN, CNL, Project director, Better Care Teams, assistant professor, adult health and gerontological nursing, Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago. Christopher has been a faculty member for more than 35 years and has interacted with close to 1,500 pre-licensure students. Active in the graduate entry master’s program, she has presented at the AACN, disseminating the concepts of the program and assisting other colleges to develop similar programs.

Jean Powlesland, MS, RN, NIDCAP trainer, development specialist, Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, Chicago. As a clinical practice specialist and a NIDCAP trainer, Powlesland challenges through inquiry the standard delivery of care to the sick and premature infants in UIC’s NICU. She trains NICU professionals in the NIDCAP philosophy of developmentally supportive care and has a substantial impact on the quality of care delivered.

Nancy Raschke-Deichstetter, MS, RN, CEN, clinical educator, emergency department, Edward Hospital, Naperville, Ill. Raschke-Deichstetter’s clinical expertise makes her an extraordinary role model. She is an integral member of the emergency department leadership team and is regarded as a practice expert. She co-authored the applications that resulted in Edward’s ED receiving the Emergency Nurses Association’s Lantern Award in 2011 and redesignation in 2014.

Home, Community and Ambulatory Care

Sarah Greene, RN, RN field nurse, Great Lakes Caring, Kokomo, Ind. Greene manages more than 45 patients with great care. Possessing an exceptional skill set, Greene shows meticulous attention to detail. She provides needed education to her patients to help them remain safely at home and to help prevent rehospitalizations.

Mary Mitchell, RN-BC, pain management triage nurse, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill. On a daily basis, Mitchell manages more than 50 complex calls professionally, compassionately and with great expertise. As the quality management liaison for the pain-management center, she has comprehensive knowledge of the pain medications that are prescribed as well as the skill to carefully monitor and advise her patients.

Karen Sorensen, RN, CCRN, C-NPT, pediatric and neonatal transport RN, Advocate Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, Ill. Sorensen is part of a team that provides approximately 3,000 transports a year for pediatric and neonatal patients. Described as an informal leader and one of the main preceptors for new transport team members, Sorensen is said to be truly gifted. She has advanced on the nursing clinical ladder and is a nurse clinician III.

Beverley Tann, BSN, RN, CRRN, registered nurse, RIC outpatient physician, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. As an outpatient nurse, Tann’s broad knowledge base is critical in identifying patient and family needs and then developing appropriate plans to meet those needs. Tann is described as a strong advocate for patients and families, ensuring coordination within RIC’s multiple departments and within the patient’s own community to facilitate recovery.

Lisa Williams, MS, APN-CNS, AACRN, HIV advanced practice nurse, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago. Williams is a strong patient advocate, coordinating the patient‘s entire experience by working across the hospital and with the research partners at the university. She takes a holistic approach, treating her patients not only medically but also helping them navigate sensitive issues such as disclosure of their HIV status and quality of life.

Patient and Staff Management

Robin Alvarado, BSN, RN, NE-BC, nurse manager 3 surgical, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, Hinsdale, Ill. Using five key principles, Alvarado worked to improve the patient experience. She is quick to say her team deserves the credit, and her nominator said Alvarado’s approach of team empowerment contributed greatly to the unit’s success. As a result of her dedication and leadership, Alvarado received the Press Ganey Nurse of the Year Award in November 2014.

Stephenie Blossomgame, BSN, RN, patient care manager, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago. Blossomgame is an exceptional leader, taking on the role of patient care manager and opening two new nursing units served by a staff of all advanced practice nurse providers. She has developed new avenues of care delivery, mentoring staff at all levels and building relationships with her peers across many disciplines.

Cheryl Hickey, BSN, RN, CEN, TNS, manager of clinical operations, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill. Armed with tools, resources and metrics, Hickey led the opening of the geriatric emergency track in 2014. Three months later, the data proved the Geri ED to be successful in three areas: patient satisfaction, left without being seen, and door-to-provider time. An abstract on this project was accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Patricia Juarez, MS, APN, CCNS, clinical practice specialist, Advocate Health Care, Downers Grove, Ill. A clinical practice specialist for a large healthcare system, Juarez’s expertise in evidence-based practice is a critical factor in reducing practice variation and promoting patient care excellence. Her work is said to transform thinking and remove barriers. Improved patient outcomes are attributed to her eye for detail, superior collaborative skills and ability to motivate busy practitioners.

Carrie Renschen, MSN, RNC-NIC, assistant unit director, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Renschen was a key leader in implementing the PICU skills advancement orientation guidelines, and due to the guidelines’ success, the PICU has seen a vacancy rate reduction to 3%. Renschen possesses a passion for quality initiatives, and as of March 2015, the unit had gone two years without a CLABSI.

Volunteerism and Service

Christy Aliposa, BSN, CMSRN, RN3, Professional Nursing Staff president-elect, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Aliposa scheduled and organized Rush nursing participation in volunteer health screening events at Thresholds, an organization that helps people struggling with mental illness. These events serve the diverse mental health population through community outreach and education. The nursing division uses Aliposa’s volunteer work as evidence of structural empowerment in the organization’s Magnet document submission.

Patricia Burke, BSN, RN, Penwasciz coordinator, Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville, Ill. Burke coordinates the hospital’s Penwasciz program, which provides high school students interested in health careers hands-on experience. Since 2009 when Burke began as coordinator, more than 150 students have completed the program and are in school or have graduated from pre-med, nursing, pharmacy or physical therapy programs.

Stephanie Krienitz, BSN, RN, staff nurse, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Serving her community and the world, Krienitz works in youth ministry and has made seven medical mission trips to underserved populations in the world. Last year, she was awarded the prestigious American Red Cross of Chicago Nurse Hero Award for her heroic nursing acts both in her community and for numerous international mission trips.

Claire Liszkay, BSN, RN, CCRN, staff RN, MICU, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago. Liszkay recently was in Sierra Leone for a six-week tour caring for Ebola patients. She was the first to volunteer in her organization to care for potential patients and helped set up an Ebola unit. Her volunteer efforts have served many others in New York, Nicaragua and Haiti.

Sarah Pruitt, BSN, RN, assistant clinical manager, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill. When Pruitt learned one of her organization’s physicians frequently travels to Turkey to care for refugees misplaced by ISIS, she offered to help. She gathered supplies from the hospital that would be otherwise discarded and worked with the physician to send these supplies to Turkey so they could be used to treat patients.


By | 2015-08-05T16:21:16-04:00 April 8th, 2015|Categories: Greater Chicago|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Roszkowski is a freelance writer.

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