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Modern-Day Florence Nightingales

California celebrates its Nursing Excellence Award winners

Monday September 13, 2010
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As nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale noted more than 140 years ago, “Nursing is an art.” That statement rang true when the myriad accomplishments of California nurses were recognized during the regional Nursing Excellence Award gala in Los Angeles.

“These nurses are artists as well as scientists,” said Judith G. Berg, NurseWeek’s vice president of nursing communications & initiatives. “They touch, connect, carve paths, and with skill and courage lay track for those who come after them.”

Nominations for finalists and winners were blinded and ranked by nurses on a panel. The regional winners will be judged against those across the country, with Nurse of the Year winners to be announced at the end of the year.

Berg welcomed the finalists and then the winners to the stage, where they were bathed in the spotlight. “In the words of Nightingale, ‘It is not what we say, what we do or what we appear that has influence on others, but what we are.’ ”

Read about the California winners below, and view photos of the event at View the gallery of this event at www.Nurse.com/gallery/CAgala.


Ruth Ann Terry, RN
Diane F. Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award

Ruth Ann Terry, RN, MPH

Before her work as executive director on the California Board of Registered Nursing, Terry had an illustrious career in service and academic settings in Northern California. During her 26 years with the BRN — 17 of those years as its director — she dealt with multiple challenges to the practice of nursing. Needless to say, her cool-headed, excellent communication skills and a fabulous sense of humor ensured a successful outcome as she navigated a constantly changing environment.

“I do not have the words to express my gratitude for being chosen,” Terry said. “As always, I will continue to advance professional nursing to its highest potential.”


Elise Dempsey, RN
Advancing and Leading the Profession

Elise Dempsey, RN, PhD
Senior director for clinical improvement
Catholic Healthcare West, San Francisco


Dempsey’s passion and effectiveness essentially guarantee a project’s success. Dempsey has championed the electronic health record at this large, multihospital organization for many years. Managing clinical IT projects in which all hospital systems and processes are fully replaced in a 48-hour period has been compared to overhauling an airplane while in flight. But Dempsey effortlessly led thousands of hospital personnel and clinicians through this massive change, making what seems impossible, possible.

Dempsey acknowledged her team of colleagues upon accepting the award. “Nursing informatics is still really a young field,” she noted. “After collecting data, we transfer that data into information, and then into knowledge — knowledge about our patients and the care that we’re providing.”


Jessica Goggin, RN
Clinical Care

Jessica Goggin, RN, BSN
Nurse coordinator, adult cystic fibrosis program
University of California San Diego Medical Center, La Jolla, Calif.


Goggin joined the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program five years ago, early in its development. The disease had been a pediatric concern in the past, and only relatively recently have patients survived in any numbers to adulthood. Goggin has fostered the growth and development of a well-functioning multidisciplinary team. She ensures patients receive optimum care at all levels of treatment — inpatient and outpatient. She is involved in all aspects of their care. She has worked diligently to connect patients with needed services and providers, while maintaining the close and supportive professional relationships with these long-term patients.

“I want to accept this on behalf of thousands of nurses,” Goggin said. “I don’t feel that I do anything other than take care of people that I love. It seems rather simple to me, and to receive an award for it is absolutely amazing.”


Priscilla "Patti" Taylor, RN
Community Service

Priscilla “Patti” Taylor, RN, MN, CNS, FNP-C
Lecturer
UCLA School of Nursing, Los Angeles


Taylor volunteers as a case manager for wounded soldiers with Operation Mend, which provides soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan with free facial reconstructive surgery and functional reconstruction of disfiguring facial burns. Taylor meets the soldiers and their families at the airport when they arrive in Los Angeles and is their ambassador for the entire surgical experience. She also led a of a team of nurses that went to Haiti after a massive earthquake devastated the country. Taylor and her team were in Haiti for two weeks aboard a U.S. naval ship, which was deployed to provide humanitarian aid.

“I want to thank the wounded warriors for allowing me into their lives and to care for them. It is such an honor,” Taylor said. “And everybody in this room, please do not ever forget them.”


Jill Fargo, RN
Management

Jill Fargo, RN, MSN, FNP, NEA-BC
Clinical director
Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Orange, Calif.


Fargo has had no vacancies in her areas for two years, and her team’s turnover rate is consistently 9% below the benchmark. The organization has multiple strategic goals related to timely access to care and throughput. Fargo recognized that the med/surg units were key to throughput efficiencies. By analyzing the system and involving key stakeholders, Fargo set in motion evidenced-based strategies and monitored results. As a result, while there has been a 20% increase in admissions from the emergency department to med/surg, wait time has decreased by 14%. Unit notification of bed availability has decreased from 33 minutes to less than 10 minutes.

Fargo thanked CHOC “for creating such an inspiring work environment.” She added: “This is an award about ‘we.’ I am so honored and privileged to be one of the leaders at this hospital.”


Kris Tina Brust, RN
Mentoring

Kris Tina Brust, RN, BSN, AE-C
Pulmonary nurse specialist
Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, San Pedro, Calif.


Brust leads a twice-weekly progressive exercise and health maintenance program that provides a support group atmosphere and urgent care screening opportunity for participating chronic lung disease patients. She has mentored many volunteers over the years. One example: One patient’s wife, a participant of one of Brust’s programs, died, leaving him lonely and depressed. Brust created an opportunity for him to volunteer in the program, and that substantially improved his depression and sense of well-being. She also is a role model and inspiration to area grade school children and the Girl Scouts of America, helping to expose them to nursing careers, basic first aid and CPR training.

Brust thanked her family and supervisors for their continued support. “I am ecstatic. I need to acknowledge all my mentors — past, present and future.”


Michele Rigsby-Pauley, RN
Teaching

Michele Rigsby-Pauley, RN, MSN, CPNP
Program director
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles


Rigsby-Pauley tended to many sick children with hematology/oncology and trauma conditions in her career. After attending many funerals and talking to parents about how they found out about their children’s illnesses, she realized there was opportunity for education. Often, there were symptoms that parents thought were normal but actually needed medical attention. Rigsby-Pauley thought that by helping parents understand the developmental processes in children, they could recognize abnormal signs and seek help early. Her mission became to educate. She has strong collegial ties with the COACH Program’s community partners and has earned the respect of her staff, colleagues, physicians and executive leadership.

“Caring for children and community service has been a passion of mine for a very long time,” Rigsby-Pauley said. “I’ve used that passion to educate other individuals who care for those who aren’t as fortunate as many of us are.”

VIEW THE GALLERY

View the gallery of this event at www.Nurse.com/gallery/CAgala.