South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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May 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 11

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Salute to Nurses – Profiles of Nurses

In recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6-12, South Florida Hospital News asked healthcare providers to submit profiles of nurses who deserve recognition for their contributions to the advancement of nursing as a profession. South Florida Hospital News would like to salute the following nurses - and ALL nurses - for their hard work, dedication, compassion and commitment to providing superior care for our families, friends and neighbors.

Aventura Hospital and Medical Center

Brenda Hartmann, RN

Brenda is the Stroke Program Coordinator at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. She monitors all the patients admitted with tia/stroke or bleed. She coordinates their care and abstracts all the data for performance measures. In addition, she provides education for the staff on stroke/tia/bleed and provides in-services. In addition, Brenda speaks about our Stroke Program in Nursing Orientation and coordinates the monthly stroke meetings. She also conducts rounds with physicians on stroke patients.

Brenda has over 16 years of nursing experience. She is an excellent clinician with tremendous diverse clinical experience, she is a great patient advocate, flexible, and is always willing to go the extra mile. Brenda began her nursing career on a Post Open Heart Stepdown Unit in Erie, Pennsylvania. She later transitioned to CCU and CVICU. She has also worked in ED/Trauma, Trauma ICU, Neuro ICU. She was a traveling nurse for 10 years throughout the United States.

Brenda makes a continuous effort to promote the individualized and specialized treatment that each of our stroke patients need and deserves. She realizes the special needs required of many of our patients and works with the nurses and physicians to provide the best care for our patients. She is truly an asset to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.


Julianne L. Burgos, RN BBA

Julianne is a passionate, highly motivated individual who has had extensive experience in Critical Care, Recovery Room, Cardiovascular and Medical Surgical training. She began her training as an LPN in 1982, attained a Bachelors degree in Business Administration and later her RN degree. Her interests include advancing in the area of Quality Management and Performance Improvement. She was previously nominated for the Nursing Excellence of the Quarter Award, is an active member of the nursing Clinical Ladder and participates on numerous patient care committees.

Until recently, Julianne was the Performance Improvement Coordinator and clinical educator for the Cardiovascular services product line at AHMC. She conducted the Orientation Program of all new employees, was instrumental in the creation of orientation manuals for the different skilled level positions, continuing education of the multi-disciplinary team, documentation of competency checklists, patient teaching and follow-up. She was also responsible for coordinating the Performance Improvement program and Cardiovascular Registry within the department.

Julianne has most recently moved to the Quality Management department at AHMC. As the Quality Management Coordinator, she brings her expertise and passion for quality care to every aspect of patient care. Julianne makes a continuous effort to promote the individualized, specialized and quality treatment that each of our patients need and deserves through the monitoring of Core Measures outcomes, and house wide - Performance Improvement. Julianne has worked in the nursing development area, is a mentor and has grown and excelled as a healthcare provider. She is a welcome asset to the Quality Management team at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.


Michelle Zimmerman, RN

Michelle is a Charge Nurse in the Med/Surg Unit and has been with Aventura Hospital and Medical Center since 1999. Michelle is an excellent clinician, great patient advocate, flexible, functions in many roles and is always willing to go the extra mile. Michelle has received many complimentary letters from her patients. Many of them say she is always willing to listen, very helpful and makes them feel comfortable during a stressful time. She is an asset to Aventura Hospital.

Michelle is specialized in Oncology and is certified in chemotherapy and is extremely knowledgeable in her field. Our mission at Aventura Hospital is to strive to surpass customer expectations, exceed performance standards of our competitors, and commit to continually improve the quality and efficiency of our process, services and clinical outcomes. Michelle has played an active role in our mission. As we have grown as a facility, Michelle has grown and excelled as a healthcare provider.

In working with our team of healthcare providers, Michelle makes a continuous effort to promote the individualized and specialized treatment that each of our patients need and deserves. She realizes the special needs required of many of our patients and works with her nurses so they get the well rounded care that they need.


Society of Pediatrics New and Only Broward Chapter


Upper Row (l-r): Donna Santacroce, Lisa Wilson, Jennifer Gomulinski, Perla Bueno, Sylvia Conlee, Judine Whyte, and Serena Toney.
Lower Row (l-r): Caren J. Bock, Judith Anderson, Pat Gorney, Maxine Hogan, and Carol Bhim. Not pictured: Patty Gossage and Mary Ouellette.

The Broward County Chapter of The Society of Pediatric Nurses was launched on March 20, 2008. The purpose of the chapter is to provide opportunities for professional growth, network with local pediatric professionals, provide educational programs, and promote best practice standards for the pediatric population. We are a new chapter with 16 members representing Broward Health and Memorial Regional hospitals. Ballots for selection of officers and Governing board will be going out to all Broward County SPN members. Come join us and be part of the excitement in starting this chapter. For more information, contact Perla Bueno at pbueno@browardhealth.org or (954) 344-3375.




Broward Health Coral Springs Medical Center

Rachelle Zahniser
Nurse Manager, Emergency/Nursing Administrative Services

Power is in the ability to do good things for others. And there is certainly one woman who holds that power here at Coral Springs Medical Center. Her gift for helping people is clearly exemplified through her profession as manager of emergency and nursing administrative services. Rachelle Zahniser, R.N., M.S.N., C.E.N., was most recently recognized by the Coral Springs City Commission for leading her ER team to heroic efforts in medically assisting seniors who were transported to the hospital after a fire broke out at their homes at St. Andrews Towers, an assisted living facility in Coral Springs.

But her incredible work ethic and advocacy to providing exceptional medical care does not end there. Her proactive role in helping to development the Pediatric Drowning Prevention Task Force (PDPTF) has a proven track record of her leadership as seen in the drop in drowning statistics at our hospital.

With more than 20 years in nursing management, Rachelle is immediate past President of the Emergency Nursing Association’s Dade/Broward/Monroe chapters, and currently the Secretary Treasurer at the state level. She has been the Chair of the fundraising committee for the past 3 years.

Given her proven track record of accomplishments, Rachelle truly exemplifies the true advocacy for nursing care.


David Vieira
Nurse Manager, Critical Care/Medical Services

Caring and Compassion:

David is a true patient advocate. The medical unit he manages frequently has patients with complex diagnosis and/or psycho-social problems. He never hesitates to become involved directly with family members as needed to work through communication problems or difficult decisions. He has an extraordinary calm in his demeanor and can put anyone at ease.

Leadership:

David is a highly effective leader and is respected by staff and managers alike. His staff appreciates his hands-on approach and visibility on the unit. "He is always willing to roll-up his sleeves and assist us with patient care. He doesn’t ask us to do anything he wouldn’t do" The managers describe David as the ultimate team player…always ready to lend-a-hand. He is also responsive and timely in his follow-up with concerns brought forward by customers (patients, families, physicians, staff, and managers)

Impact on Practice Environment:

David is a nurse’s nurse. He seeks opportunities to both improve customer service while making the nurse’s job easier. This year he converted his medication rooms into multipurpose areas so the nurses could acquire their meds and supplies from their automated dispensing machines all in one location. Computers are also located in these areas so nurses can check labs/diagnostic data before pulling medications.


Sylvia Conlee
Nurse Manager, Children’s Services (Peds, PICU, NICU)

Caring and Compassion:

Sylvia has a passion for pediatric critical care and readily becomes involved at the bedside in urgent, emergent and even routine situations as the need arises. She maintains her clinical skills by remaining involved directly in patient care. This benefits both our patient’s outcomes and our staff competency. Sylvia is family-centered in her approach to care and insists that the greatest flexibility is extended to patients and loved ones.

Leadership:

Sylvia has a challenging job in managing a 22-bed Pediatric Unit, 5-bed PICU and 10-bed NICU. Volumes in these units are static and make it difficult to staff. Sylvia has successfully cross-trained most of the staff and eliminated the use of agency and travelers. She also came in on budget in two of her three units despite the extreme fluctuations.

Impact on Practice Environment:

Sylvia has facilitated the development of order sets for both the acute and progressive NICU patient to standardize care and improve outcomes. She researched and implemented a DKA Protocol for pediatric patients. In collaboration with our Child Life Coordinator, Sylvia developed a pediatric pre-op program. This program has enhanced pre-operative preparation of the patient and their family, enhanced communication and decreased anxiety.


Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Emergency Nursing Team Named the Best in Florida

They work different shifts to provide round the clock critical care to the most precious little patients – the children. In addition, they have an elaborate outreach program that educates mothers, fathers and caretakers on various topics such as drowning prevention, first aid and poison response and control. And this year, they are being recognized as Florida’s top nursing team by Advance for Nurses, an industry publication.

"This recognition is truly an honor and a testament of the care we provide within our emergency department and the education that happens beyond the walls of the hospital that aim at reducing critical incidents," said Marie Hankinson, director, pediatric emergency department at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

The magazine recognized the emergency team for its unique mix of outstanding patient care and superb outreach efforts to educate the community on many injury-prevention topics. One of their greatest undertakings occurred in 2007 when two of the nurses became certified as Pediatric Emergency Pre-Hospital Provider Instructors (PEPP) by the American Association of Pediatrics. The certification allows the nurses to educate emergency medical personnel on how to apply pediatric protocols to young patients being transported to the hospital. Armed with their certification, they began teaching the class to area paramedics and to date more than 150 participants have been certified. The class is now offered six times a year.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital ER nurses also created a team of Car Passenger Seat technicians, with two nurses certified as Special Needs Car Seat Technicians. Through community partnerships and grants, the car seat program has flourished to include a loaner seat program for special needs kids and the creation of the Safe Kids Chapter in Broward County, which offers the team additional training opportunities and a broader community reach.




HospiceCare of Southeast Florida

Debbie Premeza

Debbie Premeza is a Florida native, one of the rare kind found in Florida, let alone the Keys. She is married to Brian, and the mother of Shannon.

She came to HCSEF in April, 2007, as a case manager. Little did we know just what a Godsend she was to become. Although she had a years of home health care experience, she transitioned into a first rate hospice nurse.

She received her RN in 1980 and got her BSN in 1984.

Debbie has worked for Mercy Hospital, and was DON for LifeLine, a home health agency for 17 years, which says a lot for her dedication to an organization.

She received the Humanitarian Award from WIN in 2006, and the Lignumviate Award for her work in the Rural Health Network in 2006, also.

Debbie’s goals for the future include getting certified in hospice work, where she will be able to add CHPN to her name, and also her Masters of Divinity in her pursuit in Theology.

The entire staff of the Monroe Branch of HCSEF is so very glad that she is here. She is a go-getter, always has a positive attitude, and is a true joy to be around. She is a true asset to our organization, and we hope to see her face around the office for a very long time, and we know that all of her patients feel the very same way.




HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami

Mytchell Chancy
Chief Nursing Officer

To Mytchell, everyone is "mi amore".

Mytchell Chancy came to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami in 2005 as a registered Nurse with more than 22 years of experience. She was hired in the capacity of Nursing Supervisor quickly becoming a Nurse Manager and was recently promoted to the position of Chief Nursing Officer. Mytchell works tirelessly to ensure the patients at HealthSouth receive the best possible care. Not only does she oversee the nursing department, but she also manages the Pain Clinic, pharmacy, respiratory, and Education Departments. When a patient voices a concern, Mytchell personally visits the patient to coordinate opportunities for improvement and her big heart and caring nature shine through in every aspect of her job.

Mytchell is experienced in leadership, administrative positions. Mytchell is responsible to ensure compliance with Florida, AHCA, JACHO, and other regulatory agencies. Mytchell has worked in several major Hospitals in Boston in acute and rehab settings but we are extremely happy she has decided to remain here at HealthSouth.




Cleveland Clinic in Florida

Isabella Luckman, RN
Assistant Director of Telemetry

Since she joined Cleveland Clinic six years ago, Isabella Luckman, R.N., has earned a reputation for building solid relationships with staff, physicians, patients and their families. Isabella’s peers note that she is the ‘no nonsense’ type of director who holds employees accountable but at the same time, she is the first to go beyond the call of duty to educate, mentor and support her peers.

According to Isabella, she loves what she does and it shows. She enjoys mentoring and nurturing new nurses and encouraging their continuous professional growth. In fact, she is putting together the first assistant nurse manager support group and recently implemented a peer interview process for new management applicants.

But it’s not all work and no play. Isabella does know how to have fun at work. Her peers say that Isabella is the nurse who finds any opportunity to celebrate every success, big or small. She breeds enthusiasm into everything she does, making Isabella an important source of motivation for her colleagues. She has even been "dubbed" the party queen of the unit!

Isabella’s efforts go beyond the doors of Cleveland Clinic as she represents nurses at the Trinidad and Tobago Nursing Council, which serves as a forum for discussion, networking and decision making for nurses. Isabella strongly believes that advancing the profession of nursing will positively impact the quality of patient care.


Norma Daniel, RN
Surgical Nurse Clinician, Department of Colorectal Surgery

Norma Daniel, R.N., is a 41-year veteran of the nursing profession, 18 of those with Cleveland Clinic. She exemplifies nursing going above and beyond to advocate for patients and her colleagues.

Norma’s drive to put patients first and attend to their needs is evident in her daily practice, and it epitomizes the Cleveland Clinic motto of "Patients First." According to Norma, she believes in preparing champions for the future with a passion for excellence, to provide the best care for the most important person in the healthcare environment, the "Patient."

Norma’s role as a surgical nurse clinician entails not only perioperative teaching for colorectal patients, but also practices as a first assistant on all surgical procedures. This affords her the opportunity for continuity of care, giving the patient a sense of security. She is their ears and eyes and acts as a liaison between patient and physician. As a nurse clinician, Norma is able to explain very complex surgeries in very easy terms and makes patients feel comfortable. She is empathetic and truly portrays what nursing is all about.

Although patient advocacy, a core value to nursing, is a core value to Norma, she is also vested in encouraging her colleagues to advance their scope of practice through educational and research opportunities. Her managers admire Norma’s sincere desire to help her colleagues and foster their professional growth and development, earning her the respect of both the medical and nursing staff at Cleveland Clinic.


Julieann Boisvert, RN
Assistant Nurse Manager, Endoscopy

Starting as a staff nurse in the Endoscopy Department with Cleveland Clinic in 2004, Julieann was quick to build a strong team through mentoring. Her efforts were recognized and about one year ago, Julieann was promoted to Assistant Nurse Manager of Endoscopy.

Julieann’s peers say that she’s assertive without being overly aggressive and excels in dealing with patients. She displays maximum drive when fulfilling her job responsibilities as a nurse and demonstrates strong personal commitment as a mentor to many. Julieann has a pleasant and cheerful disposition with everyone that surrounds her no matter the circumstance.

According to Julieann, starting out as a staff nurse helped her understand the energy involved in providing outstanding care to patients. She says that she always makes time to listen to staff and they motivate her to give her best every day.

It is Julieann’s approachability, patience and nurturing demeanor that make her such an effective nurse and mentor. She demonstrates a positive professional influence in all of her endeavors and exemplifies what can be achieved with team work, one of the founding principles of Cleveland Clinic’s model of medicine.




University of Miami Hospital

Charmeline Jules, RN

Charmeline has been a nurse at University of Miami Hospital for 4 years. Starting out as a staff nurse she mastered her unit Penthouse South and has been the senior charge nurse for the past two years. Charmeline never says no. She is the consummate team player, even calling the unit on her days off to check if we are ok .

Charmeline also has the title of senior Preceptor for Penthouse South. She works along side of all new hires to make sure they have the full effect of her mentorship. All of her "students" have her cell phone number and access to her whenever they are feel over whelmed or just want to talk about the day.

When I think of the words " personal ethics" I think of Charmeline Jules. At a time when some are questioning the ethics of our young nurses I only have to look at Charmeline to know that we, as a profession, will be ok as long as the Charmeline’s of the world keep stepping forward as Nurses. As much as she is there for her peers, her patients also get the full Charmeline effect. Charmeline has a corner of the supply closet on PHS that she has made into an emergency clothes closet. She takes home clothing given to her by staff or left behind by others, washes them and brings them back to give out to patients that are discharged and in need. She has organized money collections for taxis for patients that had no way to get home. She answers all of their questions even if it means stopping her non stop actions and holding a hand to help make a patient comfortable.

Charmeline has a bachelors' in nursing and is returning to school in the fall to start work on her masters. One of her goals is to work in a leadership position.

She is my right hand woman and a great reason PHS continues to receive some of the highest patient satisfaction scores in the facility.

Submitted by Pamela Woods, Nurse Director of PHS.


Lorraine Graham, RN, and Angie Heinser, RN
Pain Management Team for Orthopedic Joint Center

Kudos to Lorraine Graham, R.N., and Angie Heinser, R.N., Orthopedic Joint Center Nurses at University of Miami Hospital. Both Lorraine and Angie are the designated pain management nurses for the center and have made an extremely positive impact on patients comfort and level of pain after surgery. The Ortho doctors are thrilled at the outcomes and are constantly commending them for the difference they have made to patients and the unit for the past year. The number of complaints related to pain management has been drastically reduced, thanks to these 2 nurses. In addition to being the pain management nurse on the night shift, Lorraine assumes the Charge Nurse role. One of her duties is rounding with the Ortho MDs, who have reported how informed she was about all the patients on the unit.

On the day shift Angie assists all the nurses with admissions, discharges etc. She is the lead person who prepares for the Multidisciplinary Orthopedic Care Conference every Thursday. When either of these nurses are off the staff hates it and misses them. They are committed and dedicated to the joint center and are making a difference each day. Thank you Lorraine and Angie for a Job well done. The director and staff of the Ortho joint center truly appreciate you!


Tryphose Listera, RN, and Cynthia Charles, RN
Chemo Nurse Team

Tryphose Listera, R.N., and Cynthia Charles, R.N., both nurses from 11 north at University of Miami hospital, are exceptional at what they do. These 2 nurses are 2 of the 4 certified chemo Therapy nurses on the 11th floor who work tirelessly without complaints or reservation to ensure that every chemo patient receives therapy in a timely manner. The commitment, support and compassion to patients are demonstrated each day by their work. While the unit is actively involved in the process of hiring Chemo certified Nurse Cynthia and Tryphose are on the unit frequently up to 1am in the morning administering therapy, many times returning the following day for their scheduled shift. It is amazing to see the bond and level of caring that exists between these 2 nurses and their patients. Cynthia and Tryphose are truly committed nurses who do care about people; thank you. The 11th floor is extremely proud of both of you.


(l-r) Tryphose Listera, RN, and Cynthia Charles, RN Graham.Heinser
(l-r) Lorraine Graham, RN, and Angie Heinser, RN



Hospice of Palm Beach County

Sandra Moncayo, LPN, CHPLN

Sandra Moncayo, L.P.N., CHPLN, is a Continuous Care Charge Nurse at Hospice of Palm Beach County. In her role as a Supervisor, Sandra consistently sets high standards for staff providing comprehensive symptom management, acting as a patient advocate, and providing compassionate care to patients and their families facing life-limiting disease processes. Her focus also on patients’ caregivers is frequently recognized by families. In their letters, they commend her for her ability to comfort and care in this most difficult time. She regularly provides competency training in the use of medical equipment to her staff of over 100 CNAs and LPNs and, as their mentor, encourages them to continue pursuing higher education.

Sandra seeks personal educational opportunities including continued IV certification, attending the annual hospice symposium, and leadership training. She makes significant contributions to the community through her extensive volunteer work. She volunteers as a nurse to middle school students, provides school supplies to students through faith-based community initiatives and annually volunteers at Sunfest providing first aid to those in need.

For her efforts, Sandra Moncayo is a finalist for the Palm Healthcare Foundation Annual Nursing Distinction Awards LPN of the Year award.


Lisa Bottke, RN-C, CHPN

Lisa Bottke, RN-C, CHPN, is a Clinical Nurse Educator at Hospice of Palm Beach County. She exemplifies commitment in her work through the ongoing support she provides to nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, integrative therapists and volunteers. Specializing in Gerontology and Hospice and Palliative Care, Lisa co-authored a 4 hour Hospice Course for Alzheimer’s Education approved by the State of Florida Division of Elder Affairs. Her innovative work with the Alzheimer’s Community Care Program includes her presentation on the Multicultural Needs of the Alzheimer’s Patient at the annual conference.

Lisa developed a preceptor curriculum for all disciplines within Hospice of Palm Beach County, and has the unique role of facilitating trials of clinical products by staff to meet the needs of patients. She educates caregivers on how to provide compassionate care to those with a life- limiting diagnosis and mentors high school and college students broadening their understanding of end-of-life care.

She continues to inspire nurses not only at Hospice of Palm Beach County, but as a volunteer on medical mission trips, for the Believers in Recovery Program at Palm Beach Gardens Christ Fellowship Church, at free medical clinics, and with Al-ANON Family Groups. For these efforts, Lisa is a finalist for the Palm Healthcare Foundation Annual Nursing Distinction Awards Extra Mile award.




Broward General Medical Center

Marisa Rietema, RN
Emergency Department

Joining Broward General Medical Center’s Emergency Department in December 2006, Marisa Rietema quickly adapted to the department’s hectic pace and within a short period of time transitioned from a novice RN to a Preceptor. On April 3, 2008, Marisa became a very important person in a patient’s life. The patient was waiting for an admission bed, but in the interim, his hemoglobin level dropped considerably and as a result, he became hypotensive, tachycardic and pale. Due to Marisa’s astute observations, assessment skills and communication, Trauma was notified and a previously unidentified splenic injury was identified. Marisa’s patient was rushed to the operating room, and as result of her quick responsiveness, is currently recovering in the in-patient unit, 5 South Tower.

As a strong patient advocate, Marisa used this experience firsthand to show the student nurse assigned to her the critical role nurses have in caring for their patients.

The staff of Broward General Medical Center Emergency Department is very proud of Marisa’s efforts and would like to recognize her for the exceptional service she provided.




St. Lucie Medical Center

Barbara Edwards, RN, BSN
St. Lucie Medical Nurse Starts Rapid Response Team to Save Lives

Barbara Edwards, R.N., B.S.N., has led the creation of St. Lucie Medical Center’s Rapid Response Team. A Rapid Response Team is used at any time the patient’s primary nurse is concerned about a patient’s condition or the patient meets certain criteria based on vital sign monitoring. In addition to the patient’s primary nurse, the team usually includes a respiratory therapist, trained rapid response nurse and an intensive care or step-down unit nurse. Once paged, the team arrives at the patient’s bedside within five minutes.

Barbara researched and created Rapid Response policies and procedures and working with the Nursing Quality Council, she also provided Rapid Response education to both the responders and staff. Barbara has been the leader and champion for the Rapid Response Team. Since the team’s inception, nearly 100 patients, students and visitors have required the Rapid Response Team’s care and benefited from its efforts. Barbara received St Lucie Medical Center’s 2007 Patient Safety Award for her work with the Rapid Response Team. She is currently leading efforts to expand the Rapid Response process to include needed emergency assistance that is identified by patients and their families.

Barbara is currently completing the Clinical Nurse Leader Program and seeking a Master in Nursing degree at the Christine E Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. Submitted by Karen Deison, R.N.


Gina Shouse, RN, MSN, CNL
St. Lucie Medical Center Selects Gina Shouse as Clinical Nurse Leader

Gina Shouse, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.L., has been a pioneer in the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) Model of Care implementation at St Lucie Medical Center. Gina graduated from Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader program in August 2007. This groundbreaking, master’s-level program equips nurses with advanced clinical assessment and leadership skills to help patients and families move through today’s complex continuum of care.


Gina Shouse being congratulated by her manager Dave Bonato.

Graduates of the program are eligible to take a national certification to be eligible to use the CNL title as a professional designation. Gina took and successfully completed her certification examination in August 2007. Since then, Gina has been leading the transition to the Clinical Nurse Leader Model of care with the nursing manager and staff on the Medical Surgical floor. In addition, Gina has led the effort to expand her graduate nursing research project on intentional rounding to all the hospital’s nursing units. St. Lucie Medical Center has seen an improvement in patient satisfaction and core measure compliance since the implementation of the CNL practice model. Gina's flexibility and patience during the time of this transition has resulted in a near seamless change in model of care. Submitted by Karen Deison, R.N.


Toni Dichiacchio, RN
St. Lucie Medical’s Emergency Room Gets Lean with Help of Nurse

Many hospitals are challenged with quickly moving patients from the emergency department to patient floors. In Florida, the challenge is greater during what’s known as "season," when many part-time residents return to Florida to live and hospitals see a surge in patients. St. Lucie Medical Center’s challenge has been overcome successfully through the leadership of Toni Dichiacchio, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department.

Toni is leading the hospital’s "Overcrowding Task Force". She has been instrumental in improving patient flow from the Emergency department into appropriate units of the hospital. She created a computer report called "passport" that is used to ensure complete patient information is passed on to any receiving nurse to facilitate rapid movement of admitted patients from the ED to other patient care areas. Due to her efforts, the hospital has seen vast improvement in decreasing the length of stay for admitted patients.

Toni also has served as a leader in St. Lucie Medical Center’s "Lean Process" –the effort to eliminate wasted steps in processes. Toni was instrumental in initiating the emergency department’s "sub-waiting" treatment room. This area allows patients to receive needed medical care and attention even if there are no beds available in the ED. Toni’s efforts have led to improved patient and staff satisfaction by addressing the flow issue of moving patients into and out of a crowded ER.

Toni is currently a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University slated to graduate this December with her Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Degree.

Submitted by James Kruger, R.N., Emergency Services Director.




Imperial Point Medical Center

Lola Rhodes, RN, BSN, ARNP

Lola Rhodes, R.N., B.S.N., A.R.N.P., came to Imperial Point Medical Center seven years ago from a telemetry unit. She brought with her a wealth of experience. She never questioned her decision to enter emergency nursing and she was a perfect fit for this environment and our team.

Lola has evolved from an ED staff nurse to a charge nurse and one year ago, accepted the assistant nurse manager position. She recently received her ARNP in family medicine yet she has decided to stay and continue to move up the management ladder.

Her peers in the ED value her knowledge, her guidance and her endless patience. She mentors our new employees, rallies the staff to go the extra mile, and works with all departments to assure our patients receive quick and efficient care with a personal touch. She is the reason we have a great unit and an ED family that prides itself on being a cohesive unit.

There is so much I could say about Lola but one word says it all, "dedicated." She encourages everyone to strive for perfection so we can obtain our department and personal goals.

Submitted by Mary Anne Usher, R.N., B.S.N., M.B.A., Nurse Manager, Emergency Department.


Elizabeth Comer, RN, CCRN

Elizabeth has been a nurse for more than 20 years and was trained in Ireland. Prior to joining Imperial Point Medical Center in 1995, she served many years as a traveling nurse with extensive travel ranging from Iraq to Australia.

Elizabeth has medical surgical, OB, intensive care, psychiatry, recovery and emergency medicine experience. Her energy and wealth of knowledge, combined with an unparalleled commitment and a level of dedication to her job, is admirable. She responds without hesitation to the demands of the hectic role of an ER nurse.

Elizabeth's expertise is especially evident with patients whose injuries are unknown, who are unresponsive, with vital signs too low to be detected. She is an assertive, methodical, detailed-oriented and a "hands on" nurse. Her critical thinking skills are respected by physicians and colleagues and appreciated by her patients.

She is an avid reader who stays abreast with the constant change in evidence-based practice. Her passion is to mentor nurses and technicians. Anyone who shows an interest in learning is a teaching opportunity for Elizabeth. She embraces the belief that time is well invested in teaching those who want to learn.

Submitted by Lola Rhodes, RN, BSN, ARNP, Assistant Nurse Manager, Emergency Department.


Mary Anne Usher, RN, BSN, MBA
Nurse Manager/Emergency Services

The best ED manager works at Broward Health Imperial Point Medical Center … Mary Anne Usher R.N., B.S.N., M.B.A. Mary Anne came to Imperial Point 14 years ago as a part time administrative supervisor. She brought with her experience as an ACHA surveyor, risk manager, and nurse leader.

Two years ago Mary Anne was recruited to be the manager of our 16-bed ED. She has empowered the ED nurses and techs, unit secretaries and mental health techs to make decisions on policies and procedures. She encourages professional growth and continuing education. Her open door policy and bottomless candy jar has helped us make it through stressful days.

The ED core measures are at 100% and we treat each patient as we would want our own family to be treated. Our most recent patient satisfaction score reflects a 95%, which is in the top 10% of the hospitals in the U.S.

We may work out of an older ER but we are the proudest, and we owe this all to our manager who believes in each of us. Thank you Mark Sprada, IPMC’s CNO for recruiting Mary Anne … she is our STAR.

Submitted by Briege Maguire-Zilinka, RN, ANM, Emergency Department.




Palms West Hospital

Martha Morales

Martha exhibits passion and quality of excellence in everything she does, and cares about the people she works with on a daily basis, whether it is interacting with staff or physicians. Martha has been known to be very creative in engaging employees in fun, educational activities and works well with new employees at the bedside on all shifts whenever needed.

Martha is approachable, knowledgeable, proactive, dependable, and a valuable resource to the staff. Martha cares about what she does, and takes her job very seriously as she realizes how much education plays a role in staff and patient safety.

Martha, thank you for all you do for all of us every day!


Marie Previlus,RN IV
Intensive Care Unit

Marie Previlus was born and raised in Haiti, married and mother of 4 children. Her personal belief is that she was called by God to serve with compassion. Marie currently is a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Palms West Hospital, as well as a volunteer at Bethel Junior Academy in Riviera Beach, FL Marie serves as a ministry leader for her church to help teach women and community groups on health promotion and prevention by providing free seminars, lectures, and handouts. Marie and her family give annual donations to a school in their native country, Haiti to help subsidize teachers’ salaries, children’s scholarships, and interest-free loans to help people start small businesses.

As charge nurse, Marie functions in many capacities that allow her to share her expertise with others in critical thinking and clinical competence. Marie participates in many hospital-supported functions and activities, and is truly respected by her peers and physicians. Marie’s on-going compassion, commitment to others, and her never-ending caring attitude truly make her an asset to Palms West Hospital.

Marie received the distinct honor of receiving the HCA Frist Humanitarian Award for 2007. The Frist Humanitarian Awards are given annually to the employee at every HCA hospital that has epitomized the extraordinary spirit and care for the welfare of their patients, fellow staff and community.


Stacey Yuskas Demerski
Administrative Director of Quality

Stacey helps staff and management focus on principles and applications of performance improvement, quality management, patient safety, regulatory compliance and medical-legal review.

Stacy has an extensive nursing history and career as a Cardiothoracic Nurse, Certified Pediatric Nurse, Clinical Educator, and Quality Manager/Director. Stacey’s previous clinical experiences have been the catalyst for her drive and passion to achieve positive patient outcomes and maintain patient safety and quality of care. Stacey strives on a daily basis to share her expertise with other departments in critical thinking and clinical competence. She works diligently with nursing and other departments to achieve JCAHO/CMC compliance standards, and has taken a proactive approach to improving staff responsibility and accountability as shown in her daily performance as a mentor and a leader.

Stacey’s Director responsibilities at Palms West Hospital include: Medical Staff, Quality Management, Infection Control/Prevention, Risk Management and Employee Health.




Columbia Hospital

Leslie Baker, RN
Emergency Department Nurse

For as long as I can remember, all I wanted was to be a nurse. I achieved that childhood dream at the ripe ole age of 20! I grew up in the small southern town of Morehead, Kentucky and received my nursing degree from Morehead State University, nestled in the heart of Appalachia.

My most memorable nursing experience came from working at the local hospital there. I was afforded the opportunity to take care of people from many different cultures, backgrounds, levels of education, etc. That proved to be the most valuable experience to me and that is when I realized I wanted to be an ER nurse. And here I am … 28 years later, doing what I love in South Florida!

Nursing can be a tough, very emotionally stressful job. Not all days are good. But sometimes, you get that opportunity to make a difference – even if it is in just one person's life and you realize, "Yes, this is why I am here!"

As clichéd as it may sound, I live my personal and professional life by the Golden Rule-- treat others as I would want to be treated. This has never failed me and if I could give one piece of advice to all the young nurses out there it would be: "Live and work by this rule and you will always be successful!"


Anol Thelusmar, RN

I have always admired those who help other people. Being a nurse is a rewarding contribution to today’s society. Nurses are people who care about the well-being of others. They do the best to anticipate the needs of the sick and to ease their physical and emotional pain endured throughout their illness.

I have wanted to be a nurse ever since I moved to the Sunshine State in 1990 from Connecticut. At first, I believed my duties would be very simple. However, I soon learned I was wrong. Nursing is a challenging job every day requiring new approaches to new challenges. I take my duties seriously during my entire shift and am always putting the needs of my patients first and foremost.

I am very proud to be a nurse and would highly recommend this profession to anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of others. In fact, my 18-year old daughter who is graduating high school this year has chosen to go to nursing school, making me a very proud father as well.




Memorial Hospital Pembroke

Jason Cohen, RN

As a Pembroke Pines paramedic, Jason Cohen, R.N., brought patients to the door of the Emergency department at Memorial Hospital Pembroke for more than seven years. Then, he completed his nursing training and for the past year and a half, he has been on the "receiving" end, working as an Emergency department nurse.

"I find it very rewarding to take care of the patients once they get to the hospital," said Cohen. He feels strongly that having the background as a paramedic makes him different.

"I utilize my paramedic training every day in the ER. We see a little bit of everything in the ER," Cohen explained. "With the pace that I often need to work at, I have to anticipate patients’ needs and work very independently."

It must be a winning combination because Susan Kramer, Director, Emergency Services, singled Cohen out as one of the best nurses at Memorial Hospital Pembroke. "His bedside manner is outstanding," said Kramer.

Cohen believes that one reason he’s effective in his job is that he knew exactly what he was getting into when starting nursing school. He encourages prospective nurses to either volunteer at a hospital or work as a nurse’s aid or patient care advocate to get a realistic idea of the profession.

It’s a fast paced career but Cohen wouldn’t trade it for anything. His pace doesn’t lessen when he gets home either. He and his wife have a daughter and a son—both under two years old.




Westside Regional Medical Center

Gea Anderson

Gea Anderson became an Emergency Room Nurse at Westside Regional Medical Center after trying other professions. After graduating on the Dean’s List from Florida State University with a Criminology and Psychology Degree, she was planning on attending Law School. While working part time the law field she decide it wasn’t for her. Gea then knew she wanted a profession that was both rewarding and respected. She gives thanks for her grandmother; who is a retired RN; who offered her advice to work in a field that gave her the career and lifestyle she was searching for. Soon after, Gea graduated from Broward Community College with an Associate in Nursing Degree and is currently attending prerequisite classes to obtain her MSN in hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner or educator. Gea states, "Every day is a challenge and I love it. I work with some of the most talented, dedicated and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I am thankful for the opportunities that have opened up for me, and for the people that believed in me along the way." Gea is also on the clinical ladder at Westside Regional Medical Center and a member of both the department safety officers and the pastoral committee.


Margo Myrick

Margo Myrick is one of our most professionally respected Registered Nurses at Westside Regional Medical Center Critical Care. She received her BSN with Honor in 1983 and began her nursing career in the Intensive Care Unit. Later in her nursing career Margo became involved with Columbia Hospital as a CVICU nurse at Lakeview Regional Medical Center in New Orleans. She has been working at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation since 1997. In 2003 she received the Frist Humanitarian Award. Margo possesses high integrity and sense of mission and vision. The wisdom that comes from her professional reflection and knowing what is most important brings a commitment and personal example to the rest of her peers. She has the desire to serve, to act in the interest of others by seeking opportunities to develop others in the role as a charge nurse, coach and a mentor. She participated in multiple education ventures at Westside such as teaching of Meditech documentation classes, teaching and orienting new graduate nurses in ICU, participating in different unit and hospital committees.


Debra Brindley

Debra Brindley shares 30 years of experience in the nursing felid. As Westside Regional Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer, she diligently worked her way through clinical and administrative roles. Debra has been with Westside since May 1994. Throughout her career at WRMC, she has held several positions including Director of Quality, Utilization Management, Medical Staff and Laboratory where she was responsible for all aspects of quality improvement, utilization and staff compliance. Debra also served as interim CNO from Aug. 2002-Jan. 2003.Debra brings energy and enthusiasm to the team at Westside Regional. Her professional experience excels in healthcare leadership, performance improvement, strategic planning, and regulatory compliance. Debra is looks forward to assuring the quality of nursing care to all patients and family, facilitating the educational needs of the nursing division and the management resources needed to accomplish the goals of the medical center. Debra has her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and received her Masters in Science of Management Healthcare Administration from St. Thomas University in Miami, FL. Among her many professional affiliations, she is a member of the National Association of Healthcare Quality and the American Heart Association where she received the Broward County American Heart Association Top Walker for 2006.




JFK Medical Center

Sharon Williams 2n/2c
Nurse Manager

JFK is the leader in the community in cardiac care and I am proud to be a part of this dedicated cardiac team.

I take great pride in knowing that the team consistently uses critical thinking and expertise to ensure optimum patient outcomes.

I work alongside top specialists, utilizing the latest technologies, all within a supportive environment where my opportunities for growth are endless. Everyday is a valuable learning experience for me.

My experience here at JFK has helped me to recognize the unique challenges in all areas of cardiac nursing and power of human caring. I feel as if we not only save lives but, we create lasting impressions for the patients, the families and the community at large.

The rewards at the end of the day are gratifying in knowing that I have made a difference in lives of my patients.

I started working at JFK in Mar 1994 as a PCA. I went back to school for LPN, then my associate degree in nursing, then BSN at FAU. JFK gave me the opportunity of a flexible schedule to allow me to continue my nursing education.

I was recently promoted to the manager of the med/tele unit.


Gina Thorn, RN
Nurse Manager 4N/4NW

Gina was born and raised in San Francisco California. Initially pursued a degree/career in Special Education and Respite Services for families with developmentally delayed/autistic children. During college, I lived with one of the families as a "au par" and went to classes during the day and then worked in the evening while the mom went to work. She was a single parent and RN and was eventually my inspiration to change my career/ focus into the medical field, specifically Nursing.

In 1992 Gina applied and was accepted into the Nursing program at Chabot College in Hayward California.

Gina went to nursing school full time and worked/lived with the Thompson Family. Working in the evening caring for her two sons, one of which had a severe seizure disorder and was also developmentally delayed.

Gina graduated in 1996 with my AA Degree in Nursing. After graduating from nursing school, Gina worked in a Rehabilitation Facility as a staff nurse and was then trained to Charge Nurse to the 36 bed rehab unit of the facility. In 1997, Gina worked at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkley, California as charge nurse on a 26 bed med-surg unit specializing in end stage renal disease, and was also a team member on the Kidney Transplant Team, as educator for all the pre and post op teaching to the kidney donor and recipient.

In 2002, she ventured into "travel nursing". Her first travel assignment was approximately 10 miles from her home! She spent a year at Kaiser hospital working on a med surg tele unit. After a year, she was ready to really travel and drove cross country with friends and my 2 dogs and headed to Florida. Gina started working for JFK in January 2003 and never looked back! She worked as a 'travel nurse" and after three 13 week assignments, I made Florida and JFK my home base. She has worked as a staff nurse, charge nurse, shift coordinator, a Meditech educator for IS dept and now is now part of the Emerging Leader Program where she will eventually be a Nurse Manager.




West Palm Beach VA Medical Center

Angel Lopez-Lopez, BSN, RN

Angel Lopez-Lopez, B.S.N., R.N., is the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center’s Nurse Manager for Dialysis Services. He has been with the Medical Center since 1995. He is an expert nurse in the practice of Hemo-Dialysis. His vast knowledge and evidence-based approach to patient care is apparent in daily practice.

He is a "hands on" manager providing care to a variety of patients in acute and chronic states of renal failure. His expertise and skill, along with concerns for safety, is ensured by the recent use of the "one-needle technique." He oversees and encourages changes to the dialysate solution and machine adjustments, to ensure the effectiveness of the individual dialysis treatments. This has resulted in an increased rate of dialysis effectiveness for the patients. He has spearheaded the fistula-first initiative to decrease the use of catheters.

He is admired by staff for his honesty, integrity, confident positive- can-do-attitude, and his contagious smile. Mr. Lopez is currently enrolled in a Masters of Science program, in Leadership, at Nova Southeastern University.

Submitted by Richard E. Shilling, MSN, ARNP, GNP-BC, Acting, Associate Chief Nurse for Clinical Practice.


Melissa Barbosa-Ortiz, BSN, RN

Melissa Barbosa-Ortiz, B.S.N., R.N., is the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center’s Admission Nurse and Acting Patient Flow Coordinator. She has been with the Medical Center since 1997. Melissa is the nurse that we all want at our side when facing inpatient medical care. Her compassion and strong clinical knowledge of nursing science is evident in all of her interactions with patients, significant others, and staff.

As the Admission Nurse, she has been instrumental in team building and staff support. In these times of complex patient care, ER saturation, and an increased demand for a limited number of inpatient beds, her work has made theses times less stressful for the entire Medical Center. With her expertise in medical, surgical, telemetry, and chemotherapy administration, she is seen and respected as a nurse leader and a clinical resource for all levels of staff.

Barbosa-Ortiz’s role has assisted patients with understanding the admission process and assignment to the most appropriate therapeutic environment that will provide the most beneficial care to them. Her efforts have contributed to improved patient flow.

Submitted by Richard E. Shilling, MSN, ARNP, GNP-BC, Acting, Associate Chief Nurse for Clinical Practice.


Gayle Jones, BSN, RN

Gayle Jones, B.S.N., R.N., is a nurse working in the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center Medical Specialty Clinics. She has been with the Medical Center since 1995. Jones demonstrates leadership skills as a Unit Facilitator, coordinating the care for seven specialty clinics and supervising clinical staff composed of another RN, five Licensed Practical Nurses, and three Health Technicians. Her areas of expertise are allergy testing, rheumatology, neurology, dermatology, and anticoagulation.

Gayle’s strength lies in patient education. She ensures patients are aware of their plan of care, understand their medications, and why they require certain labs or tests. She has taught self administration of rheumatology and neurology medications. She spends extra time teaching family members how to help the patient administer a self injection at home as well. Gayle goes out of her way to assist patients and families to receive the best care possible. She has received numerous letters of recognition from patients for going above and beyond their expectations. She sets the example for professionalism and is a role model for customer service. Her enthusiasm and dedication are characteristic of her approach to achieving the VA mission and vision.

Submitted by Richard E. Shilling, MSN, ARNP, GNP-BC, Acting, Associate Chief Nurse for Clinical Practice.




University Hospital and Medical Center

Carleen Lewis

Carleen Lewis has been with University Hospital and Medical Center since August 2004 and over the years has grown professionally and proved to be a true asset to our facility and the Medical Oncology Unit.

Carleen exemplifies everything a nurse should be; she is a skilled clinician and a role model to other nurses. She goes above and beyond the call of duty, doing what is right and necessary, making a difference in the lives of her patients and her colleagues every day. She creates a collaborative and professional environment that exudes positive energy and confidence. Her ability to bring calm and tranquility to every situation makes working with her an enjoyable experience for all. She is a dynamic and flexible nurse who efficiently manages her unit and her nursing duties.

A team player, she assists the staff as needed and acts as a mentor assuring that the Standards of Practice are always maintained. Her compassionate care of her patients, her professional mentoring and her consistent flexibility sets her above and apart. Carleen is often visited by the families of her discharged patients to show their appreciation of the care she rendered to their loved ones. Her passion for caring makes her exceptional and during this National Nurses Week, 2008, we are proud to express our gratitude and recognize the contribution Carleen has given to the nursing profession.


Linda Hirt, RN

Linda Hirt, R.N., began her employment in the OR department at University Hospital and Medical Center in 2000, bringing with her over 14 years of OR experience. Linda has functioned in various roles in the department ranging from relief charge nurse to preceptor and progressed from staff nurse in the Operating Room to preceptor, relief Charge Nurse and acting clinical co-coordinator. She has earned the respect of her peers, surgeons, patients and management through her positive attitude, teamwork and flexibility. Linda’s passion for patient safety is reflected in her involvement with quality initiatives related to JCAHO’s National Patient Safety Goals and CMS evidenced based Core Measures. In her off duty hours Linda volunteers her time with the Association of Retarded Citizens in Volusia County.

During this National Nurses Week, 2008, we are proud to acknowledge Linda’s contribution to the profession of nursing.


Susan Cohen

Susan Cohen joined the staff of the Department of Psychiatry at the University Pavilion in 1988. She has earned respect in every role she has occupied since. Her knowledge, expertise and flexibility have enabled her to assume many responsibilities in the Pavilion as a leader and expert resource.

Beyond her hospital responsibilities, Susan provides community outreach lectures to schools, police departments, and businesses. Her medical journey with end-stage renal disease, transplantation and dialysis has led to volunteerism with the National Kidney Foundation providing support and education to transplant candidates and their families.

Susan also serves as Adjunct Instructor at BCC School of Nursing and supervises nursing students during their psychiatry clinical rotation. In addition, she serves on the Guardianship examining committee for Broward County Circuit Court and previously as an examiner for the

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