By Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN
Heidi Crooks, MA, RN, the CNO and senior associate director of operations and patient care services at four UCLA Health hospitals, is the 2015 Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. She was honored at the June 5 GEM Awards dinner at the Hilton Los Angeles, Universal City.
Believing that excellence begins with RN competency, commitment and engagement, Crooks strategizes daily with her nurses on patient care. A frequent visitor to staff on all shifts, she is famous for her “brown bag” sessions.
“This is an incredible honor, and I want to thank my family, friends, colleagues and all of the nurses who are in this room tonight. I would not have been successful without you,” said Crooks, after graciously accepting the Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award from Eileen P. Williamson, MSN, RN, Nurse.com senior vice president and chief nurse executive. “Nursing has given me the opportunity to work with individuals committed to providing a healing environment to our patients,” she said.
Williamson said that UCLA nurse leaders describe Crooks as someone who is loved, respected and admired by everyone. “Staff says she takes a genuine interest in her employees from their first day and works to help them grow and flourish ‘where they are planted,’” said Williamson.
Words of wisdom
Crooks shared some words of wisdom with the GEM finalists and their colleagues and families. “To keep me centered I always remember that I am a nurse first. Many nurses enter the profession with a profound sense of calling, a desire to care for others and to make a difference in people’s lives at their most vulnerable times. The soul of caring is to be able to share one‘s self in a sincere and loving manner.”
Crooks is an advocate of service to others. After traveling to Nigeria twice over the years, she never lost the volunteerism spirit, and Williamson told the audience that “to this day she encourages her nurses to take on service roles and then does all she can to facilitate their work nationally and internationally.”
Active on the Foundation Board of her church, she serves in ministry to the elderly and is a Red Cross volunteer and part of the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association and the LA Scandinavian Choir. Crooks also is involved in various fundraising and philanthropy initiatives.
Called a transformational leader during her lifetime of achievement, she has been honored with Los Angeles Business Journal’s leadership award; the Heidi Crooks Visionary and Transformational Leadership Award (which is named for her) and UCLA School of Nursing’s Visionary Leader Award.
The Nurse.com Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a nurse to honor his or her lifetime of achievement in a career of the most distinguished and meaningful kind within the field of nursing.