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Nurse.com announces 2013 New York/New Jersey 2013 Nursing Excellence finalists

Monday May 20, 2013
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Each year, Nurse.com calls upon you, our readers, to tell us about
the exceptional nurses you work with by nominating them in our
Nurse.com Nursing Excellence program — and for more than 20 years now thousands of you have done that.

This year was no exception, and we once again received many phenomenal stories of nurse excellence that our RN judges narrowed down to the 30 finalists from the New England region that we proudly introduce to you now.

Winners in each category will be announced June 5 at a gala event at theTeaneck (N.J.) Marriot at Glenpointe.

To view a photo gallery of this year's finalists, visit www.Nurse.com/Galleries.

ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSION

Carlton G. Brown, RN, PhD, AOCN
Director for Nursing, Evidence-Based Practice and Research
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

Brown is responsible for establishing a research agenda at MSKCC that promotes improving care of patients with cancer. An oncology nurse for more than 25 years, he has served as president of the Oncology Nursing Society and the Oncology Nursing Certification Corp. His textbook, "A Guide to Oncology Symptom Management," an evidence-based work on 24 common symptoms experienced by patients with cancer, won the 2010 APEX Award for Publication Excellence and is a required text for the OCN, AOCNS, AOCNP, CBCN and CPHON oncology certification examinations. As ONS president, Brown provided testimony on risk evaluation mitigating strategies to the FDA and strengthened the role of the oncology nurse internationally at the Middle Eastern Cancer Consortium. He serves as an ASCO/ESPN Prostate Cancer Advisory Panel member, focusing on creating advertising campaigns to educate men on prostate cancer that have aired on ESPN, the national cable sports network. A 20-year Army veteran, Brown was awarded the Order of Military Medical Merit for his excellence, leadership and distinguished service to the Army Medical Department.

Miriam Carasa, RN, EdD, NE-BC
CNE/Deputy Executive Director
Woodhull Medical Center, North Brooklyn Health Network, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A highly effective leader, Carasa instituted a staffing model that resulted in annualized cost savings of more than $11 million while improving nurse-patient ratios and decreasing RN vacancy and turnover rates. She formulated a nurse leadership program for managers that provided training in personnel, operations, fiscal and quality management, making nurses better prepared and more efficient leaders. She was instrumental in developing an on-site RN-to-BSN degree program at Woodhull and currently is pursuing a similar program for an MSN. She has partnered with nursing schools to provide a leadership practicum for BSN students and a graduate nurse externship program. She has implemented multiple projects using LEAN methodology to decrease waste and improve interdisciplinary practice. She shares her leadership expertise abroad as coordinator for health education and a board of trustee member for the Hope for a Healthier Humanity Foundation’s Honduran nursing project, which develops health promoters in rural areas of that nation.

Frances Cartwright, RN-BC, PhD, AOCN
Senior Director of Nursing, Oncology Services & Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City

Cartwright leads interdisciplinary teams on Langone’s inpatient medical units and at the NYU Cancer Institute. She also provides leadership to the Oncology Services Nursing Councils, which include Leadership, Patient Education, Practice, Professional Development, and Quality and Performance Improvement. A nationally recognized expert in oncology nursing, she was a co-investigator on an National Institutes of Health-funded breast cancer study and is extensively involved in a number of other research studies. She also actively writes research grants. Throughout her career, Cartwright has been a mentor and a role model to numerous oncology nurses and nursing students, whom she has guided to expertly apply the research process. Her contributions have garnered numerous awards, including the Oncology Nursing Society Quality of Life Award and the NYU College of Nursing Fred Schmidt Award in recognition of humanitarianism.

Catherine Galla, RN, MS
Assistant Vice President, Nursing Initiatives Initiatives
North Shore-LIJ Health System Institute for Nursing, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

As part of the Institute for Nursing, which houses the corporate infrastructure for nursing education, practice and research, Galla maintains and oversees the development of more than 300 collaborative care councils across 16 hospitals. These councils identify and problem solve patient care, safety and staff engagement issues to improve care delivery. Her interest in and understanding of information technology led to her serving as nursing liasion to the IT business unit, providing the central coordinating force when large-scale technology and product changes impact nursing and patient care. She ensures that these initiatives are effectively and efficiently implemented across all 16 facilities. At the national level, she shares her experience as a participant on the American Organization of Nurse Executive’s Technology Committee. Under her direction, TeamSTEPPS communication strategies were effectively taught to more than 33,000 staff members. As a result, Galla and her team frequently are asked to present on the the strategies at regional and national conferences, which led to the Institute for Nursing serving as a 2012 national training center.

Rose Madden-Baer, RN, DNP, MHSA, BC-PHCNS, CPHQ, CHCG, COS-C
Vice President, Behavioral Health, Assessment Services & Special Projects
Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York City

The behavioral health program Madden-Baer launched only three years ago to help meet the mental health needs of homebound elderly across NYC and outlying suburbs delivered care to more than 1,800 patients in 2012. She developed the program as a pilot project in part from her doctoral research and is passionate about bringing appropriate psychotherapeutic interventions and psychopharmacology to the homebound elderly. That advocacy extended to supporting VNSNY’s relief work after Superstorm Sandy in affected areas like the Rockaways and Staten Island by offering behavioral health support to those affected. She has mentored many new nurses in home care and behavioral health and works tirelessly to build awareness of behavioral health work through bylined articles in newspapers across the New York/New Jersey region and websites. She recently was asked to present at the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, the Home Care Association of New Hampshire and the International Home Care Nurses Organization conferences.

CLINICAL NURSING, INPATIENT

Keisha Ballentine, RN, BSN, CRRN, ONC
Registered Nurse
NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York City

As a staff nurse on a Commission of Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities-accredited neuro rehab unit specializing in brain injury, Ballentine’s clinical expertise has been recognized this past year through an appointment on the Nursing Department’s Professional Development Program as a Clinical Nurse 2. She was elected by the staff to be the Unit Practice Council leader and shares her knowledge by participating on the Rehabilitation Service Practice Council, the Nursing Coordination Council and the Nursing Quality Council. Ballentine’s unit had a fall rate that was consistently above National Database of Nursing Quality benchmark. She took that as a challenge and drafted a pilot program to reduce falls. In seven of the first eight quarters since the program has been in place, falls have been under the national benchmark. Ballentine’s unit recently went 132 days without a fall. Her work was accepted as a poster presentation at the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses annual conference in New Orleans in May 2012.

Sylvie Jacobs, RN, BSN, CPAN
Clinical Nurse
The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City

Jacobs has been a Mount Sinai clinical nurse for 34 years. She participated in a conflict resolution qualitative research project in which PACU nurses were interviewed. The project was a success, and two of her clinical nurse colleagues presented it at the International Nurses Conference in Jerusalem.. She has precepted countless Mount Sinai nurses and serves as a co-chairperson of the Perioperative Professional Practice Council. She has sound clinical knowledge and mentors less experienced nurses with ease. Jacobs attended the annual conference of the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing and upon her return, created a brochure for nurses outlining what she had learned. Mount Sinai’s Magnet Champion group tried twice to get a newsletter off the ground. It wasn’t until Jacobs became editor that the project succeeded, reaching about 2,200 nurses. Her passion for people reaches outside of work as she is an active member of Peace on the Street, a nonprofit in East Harlem that focuses on disadvantaged teenagers.

Jennie Lee, RN, BSN
Registered Nurse
Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lee’s unit, 4D, is dedicated to serving the Chinese patient population of the community. As a Fall Champion on 4D, Lee was part of a team that redesigned the Fall Risk Assessment program and has been instrumental in working with staff as a resource person and expert in the new protocol’s implementation. The fall rate with injury on 4D is well below the national benchmark. A bar code medication administration expert, Lee has contributed to improved patient wristband and medication label scanning results for 4D and is a member of its Quality Improvement Council. She is committed to the hospital’s Chinese patient population and is a sought-after resource for her cultural knowledge and experience. Lee presented a poster at the Transcultural Nursing Conference in Brooklyn last year that showed improved results of patient satisfaction for her patients and represented Lutheran last October at the Transcultural Nursing Conference in Florida. In her spare time, she has administered flu vaccines on behalf of Lutheran at senior centers and community organizations throughout Brooklyn and has worked as a volunteer EMT for Stony Brook (N.Y.) Ambulance Corp. and the East Brentwood, N.Y., fire department.

Bernadette Melido, RN, CWOCN
Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia, New York City

Melido is responsible for consultation, clinical teaching and staff development in Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing and Quality initiatives at the 700-bed Milstein campus. She will come back to a patient several times a day to teach ostomy care and wait until late in the evening to meet family members who may be working to make sure they are comfortable and understand the care required. She teaches and develops Skin Champions on every unit, which has allowed her to reduce pressure ulcers hospitalwide. She has co-authored the Skin Resource Nurse Program that is being taught to all health system nurses. The indicators by the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators for nurses is a measurement of her success at NYP in the reduction and prevention of pressure ulcers, which continues to be the cornerstone for the hospital’s WOC program. A certified wound ostomy care nurse, Melido works full time while pursuing her NP degree. She continues to raise the bar for all nurses and peers through her dedication and commitment to excellence.

Katie Pierson, RN-BC, MSN, ONC
Nurse Navigator-Orthopedics
Saint Clare’s Health System, Denville, N.J.

Pierson’s responsibilities include patient navigation through all phases of the Joint Replacement Program. She leads an interdisciplinary Joint Replacement Team, is a member of the organizational Nurse Practice Council and co-chairperson of the Pain Management Team. She led the efforts of the Joint Replacement Team to create a new Patient Education Guidebook, assisted in developing a therapy book for patients to set goals and track their progress and accomplishments during their stay and created reference binders as a resource for nurses to refer to for care of joint replacement patients. Her quality improvement initiatives have resulted in a reduction in the length of stay for hip and knee replacement patients. She collaborated with orthopedic surgeons to revise blood transfusion criteria for specific post-operative patients, which significantly decreased the blood transfusion rate from 30 to 2.5. Pierson’s efforts resulted in Saint Clare’s receiving Joint Commission disease-specific certification for hip and knee replacement in December 2012.

EDUCATION AND MENTORSHIP

Barbara Blozen, RN, EdD, MA, BC, CNL
Assistant Professor
Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.

Blozen serves on and chairs the Continuing Education Committee and is the chair for New Jersey State Nurse’s Association’s Continuing Education Regional Review Team 3. She has chaired numerous committees for Sigma Theta Tau, serving as a mentor to students who are new to the local chapter. She helped bring an accelerated BSN program to an area of Southern New Jersey that had no traditional BSN program and has presented on the subject both locally for Sigma Theta Tau International and at STTI’s 37th annual National Conference, Gateway to Innovation and Creativity in Nursing Education sponsored by the Villanova University College of Nursing and at the XIII Pan American Nursing Research Colloquium, Global Nursing Challenges for the Millennium in Miami. As a testament to her teaching and mentorship, a group of her senior students had bracelets made emblazoned with “What Would Professor Blozen Do?” Many of these students continue to seek her professional advice and educational guidance.

Donna Cill, RN, DNP, FNP-BC
Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, and Director of Continuing Education
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing, Newark, N.J.

In five years as assistant dean, Cill has grown the school’s educational offerings from 10 to 12 per year to more than 35 per year. She developed a graduate student mentoring program and successfully negotiated for clinical opportunities for these nurses when facilities were reluctant to host them. She is chairwoman of the Student Diversity Committee and serves on the Faculty/Staff Diversity Committee, working closely with at-risk and minority students. She developed the Code of Conduct for the school of nursing in an effort to support minority faculty, staff and students. A frequent speaker to professional and community groups on career opportunities, leadership and mentoring, she created a TV series about teenage girls’ rites of passage. Her international work includes serving on the nursing faculty of the University of Nottingham/DeMontfort University, Durham/Leicester, United Kingdom, and the National Management Institute in Cairo, Egypt. She also has traveled to Guyana, where she assessed the infrastructure of nursing and made recommendations for implementation of programs in all phases of the profession.

Lorraine K. McEvoy, RN, DNP, MSN, OCN
Nurse Leader
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

McEvoy manages nurses who work in consultative services such as cardiology, dentistry and ophthalmology at Sloan-Kettering and oversees the practice of close to 100 professional nurses who deliver care to outpatients with various types of cancer, as well as those in need of support services. She has developed and facilitated oncology nursing review courses to prepare nurses for the oncology nursing certification exam. She has taught a two-day OCN review course at institutions across the country with more than 6,000 attendees over the last decade and created a 16-week OCN review course for all Sloan-Kettering nurses. As previous executive director at Nursing Education Associates, she developed a breast self-exam education program to reach minority women in underserved areas, for which she received a Susan G. Komen grant. An advocate for elderly patients, she is leading implementation of the Geriatric Plan, a care plan with universal applicability across cancer types and treatment modalities that is used to guide the nurse in care coordination of this patient population. She worked with Caldwell College in New Jersey to launch a BSN program, leading the effort for their CCNE certification. She continues to mentor members of Caldwell’s first graduating class as well as seniors in the program.

Alice Marie Nash, RNC-NIC, MS
Clinical Educator/NICU
Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.

A Sigma Theta Tau International Maternal Child Health Leadership Academy Fellow, Nash orients new staff to the NICU by requiring them to keep a journal of their experiences throughout orientation, allowing them to see how their knowledge and crticial thinking skills progress. She developed the Before Excess Assess Requirement, or BEAR program, which serves as a reminder to staff of infants on oxygen who may be at risk. Using a teddy bear visual on the isolette, BEAR became a formal education program for the neonatal staff, including nurses, nurse practitioners, resident physicians and respiratory therapists. When Nash recognized a need for parent education regarding car seat safety as part of a safe discharge from the NICU, she became a certified infant car seat technician and developed a program in which she first educated staff to perform a car seat challenge test on infants younger than 37 weeks, and then she also developed a teaching tool for parents. She applied for, and was awarded, a grant through the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to implement a child car seat fit station at the hospital. The station is open to any community member who wants an infant/child car seat properly fitted to a vehicle. She sponsored three additional staff members to become certified as well.

Maria Jocelyn Sulit-Garrido, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRN
Critical Care Instructor
Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sulit-Garrido is a member of the Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Standards committees, ensuring that all Maimonides standards of practice are current and EBP-based. A clinical faculty member at both the NYU College of Nursing and Touro College, she mentors RNs and other members of the professional team in the application of evidence-based practice and performance-improvement strategies. When a neighboring hospital launched a new surgical program, it reached out to Maimonides for the training of ICU nurses to care for its neurosurgeon’s patients postop. Sulit-Garrido created an eight-hour workshop for staff that included a competency station that was used as a reference for staff. An example of her mentorship ability is when she single-handedly helped more than 100 nurses become certified in their areas of specialty. In addition to being lead instructor for stroke training and teaching ACLS and BCLS, she works as a TeamSTEPPS trainer and simulation instructor at the Maimonides Clinical Simulation Center. Sulit-Garrido teaches the Advanced (Critical) Care Program to all newly hired adult-ICU nurses and coordinates their clinical orientation. Her nominator has received hundreds of letters over the past 12 years describing how influential Sulit-Garrido has been in supporting the practice of individual nurses.

HOME, COMMUNITY AND AMBULATORY CARE

Carmen Andujar, RN, BSN
Registered Nurse
The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City

Andujar was a pioneer of the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors program, volunteering from a small cubicle in the Internal Medicine Associates clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital during her lunch hour. She was hired full time as the program expanded and now is responsible for processing the initial patient referral to the program. Andujar created the program’s filing system, which progressed from a file cabinet to an electronic records system that keeps track of the program’s more than 800 patients. Her colleagues said that in one phone conversation, she is able to give precise clinical instructions to the caregiver even before the patient is an active member of the program, a skill that sets her apart.

Jill Goldstein, RN, MA, MS
Vice president, Congregate Care
Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York City

Goldstein oversees about 125 clinical and management staff who provide community and ambulatory care to an average daily census of 2,200 patients in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Goldstein led more than 50 VNSNY nurses and NPs in carrying out relief efforts in the Rockaways, Red Hook in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, overseeing their collaboration with VNSNY’s frontline social workers, physicians, specialty clinicians, home health aides and other staff. She assembled multidisciplinary sub-teams that went door to door, taking note of which residents needed services or supplies, and shifting resources as needed to ensure the needs of all residents — not just VNSNY patients — were met. She established a system at Command Central to manage resources, ensuring information from the field was acted upon efficiently. When efforts in the Rockaways wound down, Goldstein and her team helped other areas of New York City such as Staten Island, where she collaborated with VNSNY’s Behavioral Health Program staff to provide supportive behavioral health services and nursing care at home.

Jacqueline M. Hale, RN, MSN, APNC, AOCN, APNG
Coordinator, Family Risk Assessment Program
Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, Flemington, N.J.

Hale is coordinator of the Family Risk Assessment Program and works closely with a genetic counselor, physicians and volunteers to help individuals with a personal or family history of cancer understand how hereditary factors contribute to cancer risk, how they may affect other family members and how risk can be reduced or managed. In her previous position, she recognized the significance of bringing these services to the community. Though there weren’t any resources allocated for it, Hale continued to educate herself and others about the value of FRAP services and eventually secured funding to support the program. In 2009, Hale earned her certification as an Advanced Practice Nurse in Genetics, and is one of only 46 in the country to achieve the distinction. She is committed to helping others achieve that certification. Hale also created a nurse practitioner-run program that counsels approximately 700 clients annually and works with the Child Development team on the link between a mutation in the PTEN gene, cancer and autism spectrum disorders.

Solymole Kuruvilla, RN, PhD, ACNP-BC, NYSAFE
Associate Nurse Practitioner 2
North Bronx Healthcare Network/North Central Bronx Hospital, Bronx, N.Y.

Kuruvilla serves on many NCBH committees, including Infection Prevention, Environmental Safety, Needle Safety Subcommittee, Joint Commission Prep and Bylaws Credentialing for doctors and allied health professionals. In 2009, as a member of the National Association of Indian Nurses of America, she volunteered to lead the newly formed Research and Grant Committee. She eventually became president of NAINA and established a mentoring program that attracted new chapters and members. A community advocate, Kuruvilla showcases the nursing profession through college fairs at high schools in the Bronx and Elmsford, N.Y., and coordinates an annual health fair for the Elmsford community. She has received numerous awards, including the Indian Nurses Association-NY Recognition Award for Dedicated Service and the Winning with Teamwork Award from the Village of Elmsford School District. Many NCBH nurses say they were motivated to pursue higher education because of Kuruvilla, who serves as a mentor and preceptor for nursing students on all educational levels.

Deidre Kuster, RN, BSN
Long Term Coordinator
South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, N.Y.

Kuster works tirelessly to ensure a safe, healthy environment for the at-home patient through her in-depth knowledge of agency policies and procedures, New York StateDepartment of Health regulations, and regulations governing the long term home health care program. She also works closely with social work staff to ensure patients receive needed services offered by outside agencies such as rent or heat assistance, ramps and stair glides. She often exceeds her duties by picking up medications and groceries, donating needed articles of clothing and assisting patients with general household tasks. This volunteerism extends to her involvement in the Jacobs Light-Adopt a Soldier Program, for which she packs goody boxes weekly for soldiers overseas, and her assistance to the local Red Cross. A member of the Home Care unit-based council, she was nominated for a Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council Nurse of Excellence Award in 2009 and an Excellence in Community Nursing Award in 2012.

PATIENT AND STAFF MANAGEMENT

Cecelia Alvarez, RN, DNP
Director of Nursing, Informatics and Clinical Services
NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City

Alvarez served as project leader for transition to a new workflow and documentation system, orchestrated and opened the Center for Musculoskeletal Care and developed policies/competencies for nurses and medical assistants, providing the actual training. Staff members that she trained champion NYU Langone’s documentation system and have been able to resolve countless workflow issues. She aids in the successful transition of nurses from the staff nurse role to that of leader. Oncoming nurses now review real-time information while in the patient room during an initial patient assessment, a critical element of transitioning patient care from one caregiver to another. In her spare time, she conducts research on patient satisfaction, which has earned her the Nurse Researcher of the Year Award from the Philippine Nurses Association of America. Alvarez speaks on patient safety, infection control and public health topics relevant to rapid-response processes and is a delegate to the United Nations regarding global public health.

Olga L. Husbands, RN, MSN, NP, ONC
Manager for Nursing Operations and Systems
NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York City

Committed to nursing and education, Husbands advanced from CNA to LPN to RN to NP and is now pursuing a DNP degree. She encourages staff to seek higher education and shares knowledge she has gained with them to further the profession. As project manager, she helped design, build and test the EPIC electronic medical record documentation system and coached six bedside RNs to be EPIC Champions. She has served as preceptor and mentor for staff and student nurses and works closely with nursing and other departments to build relationships to advance nursing practice and create a culture of excellence. She serves on several councils, including the oversight council for the EPIC system and the Nurse Manager, Quality, Pharmacy and Nurse Products councils. She established the first Unit Clerk Council to aid in identifying and removing barriers to care. She also established a new system for purchasing and managing uniform distribution for support staff in nursing, which resulted in a cost savings and staff receiving uniforms quicker.

Patricia Primmer, RN, MAS
Nurse Manager
Morristown (N.J.) Medical Center

As manager of the original unit of the NICHE program, Primmer guides her unit-based shared governance team in implementing strategies to improve safety-related patient outcomes, such as pain management, device-related urinary tract infection and patient falls, and participated in an Institutional Review Board research study on the amelioration of physical decline in the hospitalized elderly. When members of two telemetry units merged and were trying to adjust in a redesigned culture, Primmer used critical care eduction to successfully cross-train nurses from those units for the MSDU. At the time she became manager of the medical/renal/gerontology unit, staff engagement and quality outcomes were low and nurse turnover was high. Primmer took on the challenge and by the end of 2012, nurse retention rose to 99.9%. During Superstorm Sandy, when the average daily census quickly jumped by 30 patients, she successfully coached the medical/renal/gerontology unit team in testing a periodic process called “Surge” to reconvert the private rooms back to accommodate increased volume. The unit is one of the only units that has this capability.

Elizabeth Schmidt Rodriguez, RN, DNP, OCN
Nurse Leader
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

Rodriguez is solely responsible for managing the clinical and operational functions of the ambulatory leukemia, adult bone marrow transplant and hematology disease management teams. Passionate about healthcare innovation, Rodriguez served as the nursing lead on a project that provides patients with electronic access to their laboratory results that greatly increased patient usage. For this work, she earned an Outstanding DNP Capstone Project Award from Duke University’s School of Nursing and served as chairwoman and presenter for the American Society of Clinical Oncology educational session. She has served on a national Technology Resource Group, participated in a leadership think tank and helped create and write a leadership development online course for the Oncology Nursing Society. In 2011, Rodriguez helped open an outpatient infusion unit where BMT patients receive comprehensive care along the entire course of an autologous stem cell transplant, saving about 30 hospital days a month. She also helped established an immunization clinic where patients’ care was followed by an NP for assessment and evaluation of immune function and immunization requirements.

Joanna Marie Zanko, RN, MS
Director of Nursing, Critical Care Services
New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn. N.Y.

Zanko is responsible for an annual educational seminar for all critical-care nurses that covers the latest research, trends and technology in the specialty. Zanko successfully led a quality improvement project to expedite transfers out of the ICU so waiting time for admission to the unit was decreased. A staunch advocate for evidence-based practice, Zanko expanded the step-down unit from four beds to 16. This cost-effective model helped reduce wait times for patients waiting for ICU admission. It also freed up beds and improved patient flow in the ED. Zanko spearheaded the development of an obstructive sleep apnea protocol to screen for potential anesthetic complications. Patients are screened in the pre-surgical testing unit. If a patient with apnea is identified, care is adjusted to ensure safe anesthetic care. Zanko has accomplished numerous other critical initiatives that have resulted in a more cost-efficient and satisfying clinical environment for staff and patients.

VOLUNTEERISM AND SERVICE

Susan Adamcewicz, RN, BSN, MS
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City

Adamcewicz has participated in five missions in the last five years for Medical Missions for Children, a U.S.-based organization that sends healthcare teams abroad to provide free surgical, medical and dental care to children with congenital facial deformities, primarily cleft lip and palate. On her last mission to Quito, Ecuador, she gave up almost two months of work and family time to help children who suffer from chronic health complications, speech impairments, shame and social ostracism. During her trips, she has been in the midst of a political coup and had to delay her return home because of a hurricane back in the U.S. on the day she was scheduled to travel, along with a number of other mishaps. Even so, her commitment knows no boundaries. In lieu of favors for guests at her wedding last year, Adamcewicz and her fiance chose to display photographs and information about MMFC and donated the money that would have been given to them directly to the MMFC.

Shyni Charley, RN, BSN
Nurse Manager, SICU and PACU
Nassau University Medical Center, East Meadow, N.Y.

Charley runs annual clothing and food drives for local homeless shelters. These shelters have a large population of single mothers involved in abusive relationships, many of whom have neglected their own health. She organizes health fairs at the shelters and educates these women on proper nutrition for themselves and their children, exercise, the importance of hand washing and basic hygiene, and refers them to counselors and social services, if necessary. A Sunday school teacher for 24 years, Charley ensures the curriculum involves community service. She and her students volunteer at soup kitchens every year around the holidays. She even brought her 19-year-old daughter on a mission trip to Guyana, where they were saddened by the abundance of teenage prostitutes. Guyanese women are skilled sewers of clothing, so Charley raised money to purchase 10 sewing machines and supplies so these young women would have a way to support themselves other than prostitution. Through a connection Charley has in New York City’s garment district, she arranged a venue for this clothing to be sold in the U.S. She returned to Guyana in April to coordinate and assess the progress. She also has worked in Ethiopia, where she has dug wells that provide clean, safe drinking water. An advocate for education, she also worked to establish an elementary school for village children who had never attended school, recently celebrating the first graduating class. Locally, she volunteers at a nursing home where she, her children and colleagues sing and read to patients.

Maria Teresa De Vries, RN, BSN, CCRN
Staff Nurse
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J.

De Vries works on several community outreach projects through the Magnet Ambassador Committee. She has coordinated two medical missions to the Philippines and has another scheduled for July. She planned and implemented a medical mission with her former classmates to establish a wellness program focused on health promotion and disease prevention for local fishermen and their families in Pahokee, Fla. She is actively involved in a number of local, national and international community outreach organizations including Love Made Visible Foundation, Home Reach Foundation, American Cancer Society, and is also a Eucharistic minister. She promotes nursing to high school students in New Brunswick, N.J., and Montgomery Township, N.J., and volunteers with the March of Dimes and Hugs for Brady, an organization dedicated to children with cancer. De Vries is a past winner of the Philippines Nursing Association of New Jersey Community Award, the March of Dimes Award, and was a nominee for the 2012 RWJUH Magnet Nurse of the Year Award. A breast cancer survivor, she has served as an inspirational speaker at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event. In 2012, she was interviewed by a local radio station during National Nurses Week and recounted some of her experiences during her medical missions.

Kathleen O’Rourke Vito, RN, PhD, PHCNS-BC
Associate Professor
Felician College, Lodi, N.J.

Vito was only 9 years old when she volunteered at clinics to distribute the then-new oral polio vaccine. She continued her community service into adulthood as a volunteer camp nurse for Cub Scouts, a Girl Scout Leader, and a parish nurse. She works with a department of health nurses group in planning emergency preparedness and response. When the grant supporting her involvement ended, she remained as a volunteer consultant. The group was so determined to keep Vito that they revised their mission statement to include an academic partner. With this group, she helped develop statewide uniform training guides and plans for mass prophylaxis clinics to respond to public health emergencies. An advocate for foster care children, Vito serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. She is a member of her community’s emergency response team and the Medical Reserve Corps. She was responsible for the operation of a shelter during Hurricane Irene when the Red Cross was unable to staff one in Salem County. During Superstorm Sandy, she was the only volunteer nurse with the MRC to assist the Salem Health Department nursing staff in operating a shelter for people with special needs.

Barbara Zanetto, RN. BSN. CNOR
Clinical Level III, Coordinator of Orthopedics and Podiatry, Inpatient OR
HackensackUMC, Hackensack, N.J.

Zanetto is currently working on the implementation and deployment of a government-sponsored Mobile Operating Room Suite. Her work with Hackensack’s Mobile Satellite Emergency Department, which assisted during Superstorm Sandy, is a voluntary position. She has been part of the International Surgical Mission Support since 2010, serving on international missions and dedicating many hours to acquire donations of equipment and supplies and to prepare and organize them to ensure they reach a population in need. In the past three years, she has gone to Egypt to deliver orthopedic and plastic-surgery services and supplies, and to Kenya, where she cared for patients with burns and orthopedic fractures that had gone unattended for months. She recently completed a mission to Guatemala. Closer to home, Zanetto works to endorse and support Magnet nursing by serving as the co-chairperson of the New Jersey Council of Magnet Nurses. She also is very active as a church volunteer. She believes being a nurse is gift and an opportunity to give back to society, not just a job.


To comment, email editorNY@nurse.com.
Nursing Excellence 2013

The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for
Nursing’s Future is a national sponsor of the 2013
Nurse.com Nursing Excellence GEM Awards program. The campaign helps focus attention on the severe faculty shortage that exists in the nation’s nursing programs through a faculty scholarship fund that helps qualified RNs pursue the advanced education they need to transition into teaching.

Nurse.com is proud to support the campaign by donating $5,000 to the faculty scholarship fund, which is administered by the Foundation of the National Student Nurses
Association. The donation will be made in the name of the 2013 GEM Awards national winner in the Education and Mentorship category.

ABOUT THE FINALISTS
The finalists include nurses from all specialties and practice settings. They are educators and executives, clinicians and managers, mentors and humanitarians. No matter their role or position, they’ve raised the bar for their colleagues and improved the lives of their patients. In ways as diverse as they are, they’ve enhanced the art and science of nursing and grown the body of nursing knowledge and expertise in countless ways. They are true nurses of excellence.

ABOUT THE AWARDS
Although it’s been the same nursing excellence program since the very beginning in its nurse-led nomination, selection and award process, our 2013 program has a brand new name and a shiny new look. This year’s finalists will be the first group to receive the Giving Excellence Meaning, or GEM, Awards, and the first to be honored at our GEM Awards celebrations. The 30 finalists were nominated in one of the following six categories and selected from among the many nominations that came in to our 2013 program:

ADVANCING AND LEADING THE PROFESSION: An RN who is well-known and respected as a visionary, innovative leader and change agent, who moves the profession forward through work in patient care administration, education or research, or strengthens it through other professional activities, endeavors or contributions.

CLINICAL NURSING, INPATIENT: An RN who demonstrates superior clinical nursing knowledge and expert skills, and applies both in ways that measurably impact the quality of care and improve patient care outcomes in any inpatient clinical setting or nursing specialty.

EDUCATION AND MENTORSHIP: An RN who contributes to nursing’s body of knowledge through formal nursing education, skills training or continuing education, or who guides, supports or influences nurses’ career development in meaningful, measurable ways through the art of professional nursing.

HOME, COMMUNITY AND AMBULATORY CARE: An RN who exemplifies outstanding clinical knowledge and nursing expertise in caring for patients in settings outside the hospital in professional home care nursing, home hospice, subacute and intermediate, or in other ambulatory community, industrial, or school nurse roles.

PATIENT AND STAFF MANAGEMENT: An RN who makes significant contributions to the management, supervision or direction of the environment of care and the performance of staff, demonstrating an ability to lead, influence and improve outcomes of care in any inpatient or outpatient setting.

VOLUNTEERISM AND SERVICE: An RN who gives of self in outstanding humanitarian and/or heroic ways by providing nursing care, skills and expertise in outreach to the community, either at home or abroad, to improve the lives, well-being and healthcare of others.