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Meet the New York, New Jersey Nurse.com Nursing Excellence winners

Monday June 18, 2012
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The stage was set June 6 for a night of celebration and admiration for the 30 regional finalists of Nurse.com Nursing Spectrum’s 2012 Nursing Excellence Awards program. The stellar event, held at the beautiful Teaneck (N.J.) Marriott at Glenpointe was the culmination of the regional awards presentation in which six of the 30 were named regional winners.

The evening was hosted by Eileen Williamson, RN, MSN, senior vice president and CNE for Gannett Healthcare Group, publisher of Nurse.com, who expressed the company’s continued commitment to honoring the many exceptional nurses who can be found in the New York and New Jersey area. "We consider it a true privilege to recognize nursing excellence in this beautiful way," Williamson said. "We wait with great anticipation for this night all year; truly it is one of the highlights of the year for us at Nurse.com."

During the course of the evening, guest facilities that participated in the Honor Your Own program presented their honorees with certificates of appreciation. Each of the 30 regional finalists was garnished with a corsage and received a plaque bearing his or her name and regional achievement. Of those 30, six extraordinary nurses were chosen to represent New York/New Jersey in the national Nursing Excellence Awards to be announced this fall. The six regional winners each received an elegant, sail-shaped, metallic, etched-glass award to commemorate the evening.


Joanne Singleton, RN
ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSION

Joanne Singleton, RN, PhD, FNP-BC, FNAP, FNYAM, Professor, Chair of Department of Graduate Studies, Director, DNP Program, Pace University, Lienhard School of Nursing, Pleasantville, N.Y.

Singleton’s commitment to advancing and leading the profession is evident in her work as a faculty member at Pace University’s Lienhard School of Nursing. She is a professor and chairwoman of the school’s Department of Graduate Studies and director of its DNP program, which she helped to launch.

“That experience was a real journey,” she said, “one that continues because it’s an ongoing process.”

To ensure national expectations are met, Singleton works with a team that keeps the program successful. “It was a great opportunity to be able to put a vision into place, but I needed an incredible group of people to make it happen,” she said. “It’s definitely an expression of the collective.”

Her drive for moving nursing forward is grounded in her belief in evidence-based practice and its benefits to nursing. “It comes into play in so many different ways,” she said. “I believe it’s what helps us to really be able to define the contributions that nursing makes to practice.”

Nurses constantly look at how treatments and assessments benefit their patients, Singleton said. “It gives us a way to formalize and identify the evidences we know today to improve the outcomes of our patients,” she said. “That’s extremely powerful.”
Singleton believes in the importance of culturally competent EBP and said the team is working hard to include it in its programs.

Singleton also has taken her knowledge into the community. As Parent-Teacher Association president at her son’s elementary school, she spearheaded programs for hand-hygiene and anaphylactic response. Singleton and another parent, a therapeutic clown, put together a handwashing presentation to the Beach Boys rendition of “Barbara Ann.” The kids attended an assembly, then went to the bathroom to wash their hands.

“Every now and again I’ll see one of the kids in the neighborhood and they’ll start singing, ‘Wash wash wash, wash wash your hands,’” she said.

Singleton also taught the teachers how to spot anaphylactic shock, how to inject an EpiPen and conducted EpiPen drills with a firehouse near the school to re-enact their exact response to an anaphylactic emergency.


Gloria V. Hermoso, RN
CLINICAL NURSING, INPATIENT

Gloria V. Hermoso, RN, BSN, CCRN, MSN, ED Staff Nurse/Unit Educator, Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J.

As a member of a family full of teachers, it’s not surprising that Hermoso found her calling as a unit educator. Although, she admits, she didn’t have a love for it at first.
“I saw how much homework and papers they had to grade,” she said. “But after being in nursing for a little bit, I decided to do some classroom instruction and loved it.”

After conducting a few inservices, Hermoso was convinced teaching is what she does well. Her employer agreed and put Hermoso in charge of orienting new ED personnel and educating staff. “When they offered me unit educator I was thrilled,” she said.

Among her achievements are developing and teaching the Therapeutic Hypothermia protocol in the ED. At the time, only a policy on ICU use existed, Hermoso said, but nothing for the ED.

“I went through the policy and with one of our clinical specialists to see what could be included for the ED,” she said. “It started as a worksheet but through the years we’ve added more information until it became the official policy of the ED.” The policy has been in use since 2007.

Using the protocol, EMTs record patient temperature in the field and then again on arrival. “I’m also working on a critical pathway from the EMT to ED and then the ED to the ICU,” she said.

Hermoso also was instrumental in implementing the use of capnography in the ED. This equipment is used for patients undergoing conscious sedation and other cardiac procedures in the ED, in which case the team requests a portable machine. “This is one of the latest additions to the worksheet,” she said. “I do the teaching to make sure staff know how to properly use the equipment. I include it as part of my quarterly skills lab because there are so many new developments.”

Hermoso’s easy manner and commitment to patients and colleagues have brought her to a place she didn’t think she would ever be. Although she is clearly an excellent clinician, her win in this category validates her nominator’s and colleagues’ belief that she also is an exceptional teacher. “I came to nursing because I thought I wouldn’t like teaching,” she said. “But it’s been my love for many years.”


Karen Julia Doblin, RN
HOME, COMMUNITY AND AMBULATORY CARE

Karen Julia Doblin, RN, NP, PhD(c), CCRN, CNS, Nurse Practitioner, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City

In her practice, Doblin cares for more than 700 patients who suffer from chronic pain. But it was her work with one patient in particular that demonstrated her patient advocacy.

“His was a particularly hard case of reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or complex regional pain syndrome,” she said. The patient was only 28 years old and was wheelchair-bound, never leaving his house.

“The nerve damage was spreading to his eyes, all over,” she said. “He had seen multiple physicians all over the country and no one could help him.” A true patient advocate, Doblin couldn’t accept that.

After researching an experimental treatment called Ketamine coma, Doblin took action. Preliminary outcomes showed good results, she said, with a few patients experiencing permanent pain relief. She contacted the physician who was leading the trials and got him to send all the information on the treatment he was using.

“We worked with him using short-term Ketamine infusions first to reset the NMDA receptors and it worked,” she said. After the treatments, the patient felt strong enough to join his family at an outing in New York’s Central Park. “He is currently in physical therapy and has a much improved quality of life.”

Doblin’s interest in science and nursing prompted her doctoral dissertation on stimulators and continues to fuel her. She is the study coordinator for a multisite study of patients living with spinal cord stimulators two years post implant.

“We’re one of the 300 sites that is working with St. Jude Medical in Texas to record real-time outcomes of patients living with a spinal cord stimulator,” she said. The study is ongoing, but so far about 75% of the patients have had positive results, Doblin added.

Realizing there is a psychological side to dealing with chronic pain, Doblin is working with her manager on an idea that would bring psychiatric NPs in to work with their patients.

“Ours is a tough population,” she said. “We need to do a multidisciplinary approach to care using psychiatric services with our treatment in order to get the best outcomes.”


Elaine L. Smith, RN
EDUCATION AND MENTORSHIP

Elaine L. Smith, RN, EdD, MBA, NEA-BC, ANEF, Vice President, System Nursing Education, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

When asked why she loves education, Smith replied, “I love to design programs and to help nurses achieve their nursing goals. It gives me great satisfaction.”

As vice president for system nursing education for North Shore-LIJ Health System, Smith’s role allows her to do just that. Working with nurse leaders and educators throughout the health system, she coordinates and effectively helps the system’s 11,000 RNs not only reach their goals, but also do so in a timely and efficient manner.
Although the task seems daunting to most, Smith credits the health system’s team of nurse executives and nurse educators for their work with the individual councils at each NS-LIJ facility.

“We use a very collaborative process of establishing nursing education goals that involves system nurse executives and nurse educators at each site,” she said.
Each site has nursing councils that identify strategies and prioritize educational needs, she said. Smith is chairwoman of the Nurse Educator Council and serves as the bridge between the Nurse Executive Council and Nurse Educator Council.

“We prioritize, coordinate, develop and implement through the council mechanism,” she said. “We develop an idea and then the entire system benefits from it. That way, there’s no reinventing the wheel.”

Smith developed the health system’s Nurse Leadership Academy to meet the needs of nurse managers and executives who are transitioning into new roles. The NLA is a three-component program.

“The first phase is for charge nurses who are aspiring professionals, the second phase is for middle nurse managers, and the third phase is for nurse executives,” Smith said.

Smith’s combined dedication to nursing and commitment to teaching is something she always has had. “In teaching, you never really know where your influence ends,” she said. “You influence your learners and they go out and teach others. There’s a dimension to teaching that knows no boundaries.”


Denise M. Robinson, RN
PATIENT AND STAFF MANAGEMENT

Denise M. Robinson, RN, MPH, CHWOCN, Patient Care Director of Orthopedics/Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University, New York City

The applause Robinson received when her name was called as the winner in the Staff/Patient Management category demonstrated her influence. Her approachable management style has made her a favored and effective leader. She credits her success to the responsive and dedicated staff and administration with whom she works.

“We have the same shared end goal in mind and that is the delivery of excellent quality patient care,” she said. “When working relationships are strong and effective, nurses at all levels function as a team and they deliver on their shared goal of high-value patient care.”

Robinson said she strives for a transformational leadership style and believes working in a shared governance model and a primary nursing practice environment allows her to work closely with a team to provide patient-centered care and support professional growth at the same time.

“At NewYork-Presbyterian, we put patients first always, and the education of our clinical nurses is essential to maintain that standard of excellence and quality patient care,” she said. “Simply said, organizing the educational priorities for my staff means better patient care.”

Robinson coordinates the hospital’s annual wound and vascular educational symposium, just one of the initiatives she spearheads as the NYPH/CU’s WOCN program manager. Skin nurse champions and the new nurse attendant champions on every hospital unit are two strategies employed to keep pressure ulcer rates in check.

“The wound ostomy care nurses provide monthly lunch-and-learn educational meetings with the unit nurse and nursing attendant champions on new WOC products, Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Survey scores and Press Ganey scores and new research,” she said.

Daily rounding and monthly educational programs for new nursing, medical and clinical staff have decreased hospital infection rates, which are under the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators benchmark, she said.

Robinson said she is especially humbled to receive this award. “This recognition by my peers represents nursing in an exceptional way,” she said. “I accept it as an affirmation of the WOC specialty as it brings forward WOC nursing as a highly regarded specialty.”


Rookmin Rampersaud, RN
VOLUNTEERISM AND SERVICE

Rookmin Rampersaud, RN, BSN, Senior Staff Nurse, Maimonides Medical Center, , Brooklyn, N.Y.

As Rampersaud took the stage to receive her award for volunteerism and service, the audience could feel her excitement. “I am honored because I’m now part of this elite group of national nurses,” she said.

Rampersaud’s consistently positive attitude and unprecedented concern for others makes her the ultimate patient advocate. Her caring nature extends outside of her job and clearly is seen in the volunteer work she loves to do.

In 2006, she joined a physician colleague on a trip to Guyana. While the physician, a cardiothoracic surgeon, set up a cardiothoracic surgical program abroad, Rampersaud created an online critical care education program and developed a postoperative guide on caring for and managing patients after cardiac surgery, ECGs and other surgeries for the newly opened Caribbean Heart Institute.

“I developed the program for use through the internet which makes it easier to constantly update it,” she said. The program now includes hemodynamic monitoring and has standards of protocol online.

The online program proved to be a timesaver and moneysaver. “I can send and receive exams, as well,” she said. “It’s so much easier than trying to do everything by telephone and definitely more cost efficient than traveling back and forth.”

In addition to successfully getting companies to donate much-needed medical items to the program, Rampersaud continues to give to the cause in the form of heart pillows she makes herself for splinting and as a teaching aid. “We initially got about 25 of them in the form of donations from a company that makes therapeutic pillows. After that, it became kind of costly because we don’t buy them in bulk,” Rampersaud said.

The group decided to buy forms and make them instead, stuffing them with just about anything. “Although, sometimes they don’t come out in the shape of a heart,” she laughed.

Rampersaud continues to volunteer, spending about eight hours per week online working on the program, and travels back to Guyana about every three months or so. “It’s good work,” she said.

For a photo gallery from the event, visit www.Nurse.com/Gallery/NYNJwinners2012.


Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter. Send letters to editorNY@nurse.com or post a comment below.