South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday February 18, 2020

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May 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 11




Salute to Nursing

Memorial Hospital West 

Crystal Allwardt, RN, BSN
On a daily basis, Crystal Allwardt cares for mothers and babies post-partum at Memorial Hospital West. “It’s exactly the hospital and department I dreamed of working in since I decided to become a nurse. I landed my dream job.”
Allwardt joined Memorial Healthcare System nearly six years ago, after earning a BSN at Nova Southeastern University. In addition to the work she does at the bedside, Allwardt is also a lactation educator, traveling to pediatrician’s offices to teach staff how to help moms sustain breastfeeding, ideally for at least six months. That’s the time period research shows results in better health outcomes for babies and mothers.
Allwardt, like many in the maternity community, believe breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for babies taking the first step on a journey to lifelong health.
Margalie Occil-Mathurian, MSN, RNC Perinatal Registered Nurse
For more than 15 years, Margalie Occil-Mathurian has been nursing’s equivalent of the Swiss Army knife, showing her versatility as a charge nurse that cares for patients in Labor and Delivery, Newborn Nursery, and Post-Partum units. Her ability and willingness to float between numerous assignments help ensure that every patient receives the highest quality care.
Occil-Mathurian’s skills and abilities have also made a difference outside Memorial Hospital West, most recently on a mercy mission earlier this year to her family’s homeland of Haiti. She and a team of medical professionals from Memorial Healthcare System cared for neonates in one of the poorest areas of the country and educated healthcare workers on best practices for high-risk pregnancies and infection control.
Called a “shining star” and “leader” in the nursing community by those she works with at Memorial Hospital West, Occil-Mathurian is also an active member of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
Memorial Regional Hospital
Diana Stevens, RN
For the past five years, Diana Stevens has been an advocate at Memorial Regional Hospital for patients, families, and fellow nurses. She does this by providing the best possible care and resources for those under her watch on 5 East and for peers as a member of its Pride Council.
The tri-lingual (English, Spanish, Italian) Stevens is also having a positive impact outside the hospital. She has participated in several medical missions to El Salvador and is a youth leader and mission director at her church. In the latter role, Stevens organizes service opportunities for more than 200 congregants.
Despite a busy professional and religious schedule, Stevens still finds time to volunteer at homeless shelters and the Children’s Home Society, assisting adults attempting to put their lives back together and foster children under protective custody.
Richard Knips, RN
For Richard Knips, a nurse in the neurology unit at Memorial Regional Hospital, personal satisfaction comes from seeing the progress of patients, many of whom have suffered strokes or are dealing with other brain injuries. “They’ve all experienced a life-changing event and can come to us unable to speak, use their arms, or walk. Then, to see them leave our unit having gotten back close to their prior level of function, and to know I had something to do with that improvement, tells me I’ve chosen the right profession.”
Knips, who expects to earn a BSN at the University of South Florida later this year, says educating patients is his most important role. He first assesses the patient’s knowledge and explains things in a way they can understand. Then he utilizes the teach-back method, asking them to explain the instructions in their own words so he can gauge comprehension.
Knips, who was born at the hospital he now works at, has been with Memorial Healthcare System for nearly three years.
Memorial Hospital Pembroke
Gina Sledge, RN, BSN, CEN
A traumatic experience as a teenager led Gina Sledge to what has become her life’s work.
“I was close with a cousin that died from cancer at 17-years-old,” said Sledge, an emergency room nurse at Memorial Hospital Pembroke for the past three years. “Throughout the entire ordeal, all the nurses were patient, compassionate, and took the time to be there for our family.”
It’s a lesson Sledge has never forgotten, and a standard she tries to live up to, even in the fast-paced ER. “Every patient is scared and I do my best to understand what they’re going through so I can effectively explain to them all that’s happening. Communication is so important in that situation.”
A nurse since 2006, Sledge expects to become a nurse practitioner in the coming months. She says the staff at Memorial Hospital Pembroke is like family to her.
Laura Mendez, RN III
Don’t correlate Laura Mendez’s relatively short time at Memorial Hospital Pembroke with a lack of impact or accomplishment.
She began her Memorial career after being assigned a practicum while a student at Nova Southeastern University. Mendez then joined the MHP team as a new graduate RN, was paired with an amazing preceptor (Randi Silverhardt), and is now performing the same role with other graduate nurses. She has also been a charge nurse, become an RN III, and recently won a Daisy Award for extraordinary nursing. “Ours isn’t the easiest profession and it comes with many challenges, but it is truly rewarding.”
Mendez is currently pursuing a master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner and wants to bring a deeper knowledge and understanding of disease processes to the patients she cares for. Despite a busy professional and school schedule, Mendez still finds time to volunteer at the Humane Society of Broward County.
South Broward Community Health Services
Jamie Dixon, LPN
For Jamie Dixon, it was an unfortunate medical situation that propelled her toward the nursing career that has become her life’s work.
Nearly 15 years ago, Dixon’s grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and the young woman joined her family in caring for its matriarch. Professional nurses also attended to the elderly woman during this time, impressing Dixon with their compassion and inspiring her to enroll in Keiser College’s emergency medical technician’s program. Licensed as an EMT in 2010, Dixon completed Keiser’s LPN program a year later and is currently pursuing an RN degree at Florida Career College.
Dixon joined the South Broward Community Health Services team two years ago as a care coordinator at its Dania Beach and Pembroke Pines locations. The Paterson, NJ native recently transitioned to the case manager’s role at the Pines practice.
Judith George-Elliott, RN
Working with new mothers is what Judith George-Elliott enjoys most about her role with South Broward Community Health Services. The native of Trinidad joined Memorial’s labor and delivery team in 2001 and transferred to the outpatient OB/GYN practice at the primary care provider a year later.
In addition to sharing the anticipation and joy of a new baby with moms, George-Elliott takes time to educate women about what they should expect from motherhood, including lessons learned from her own child, Jurrol, and four-year-old grandchild, Jordyn.
An RN more than 35 years, the married George-Elliott currently works as a charge nurse/team leader, which enables her to combine managerial and clinical experience. She first started her professional career as a medical assistant at a nursing home before continuing her education at Miami-Dade College.
Memorial Healthcare System has eight SBCHS locations dedicated to providing high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care in friendly and culturally-sensitive environments.
Memorial Home Health
Leonela Perez Osoria, RN, BSN
Leonela Perez Osoria has always had a passion for medical knowledge. It was evident in Cuba, where she was trained as a family physician and studied plastic surgery, and is apparent in the U.S., where she continues to further her education while working within the Memorial Healthcare System.
The flexibility to pursue advanced degrees (she recently competed a masters in advanced practice nursing), work, and maintain an active family life is what attracted Perez Osoria to home health nursing. She also appreciates the connection to peers at Memorial that help her provide care at a high level. “My patients have acute and chronic conditions that are highly complex, allowing me to practice at the top of my license and contribute to multi-disciplinary conferences with other nurses, therapists, home health aides, and physicians.
Memorial is the best healthcare system. I want to be part of this family my entire career.”
Memorial Manor
Michele Holly, RN, BSN
For nearly 19 years, Michele Holly has enjoyed working with the short-term rehabilitation patients at Memorial Manor. Nursing, she believes, is her “calling” and these individuals, many of whom are anxious and scared, benefit from the care the staff provides. “They come in so sick and we’re there for them. We attend to both the physical and mental aspects of treatment and, as their health improves, we see their true nature return.”
Holly, who came to the U.S. from Haiti as a teenager and immediately began working at nursing homes, is in charge of the floor she works on and collaborates with doctors and other nurses to solve problems that arise. Often, she’s able to do that just by talking to patients, many of whom are elderly, and explaining the reality of their situation.
“I’ll do whatever is possible to help, as long as I’m truthful with them and true to myself,” said Holly.
Violette Moise, RN, BSN
The work can be intense and is always busy, but Violette Moise always leaves time to sit and visit with those in her care. It’s an approach she believes is very important, especially at Memorial Manor, which offers individuals long-term care and short-term rehabilitative services.
“I focus on their needs, listen to their stories, and give comfort,” said Moise, who will celebrate 20 years in her current position in December. “The residents in particular look forward to the visits and say the friendship we share makes them feel alive and relevant.”
Moise takes pride in being in charge of the daily work flow, minimizing stress on the floor, and handling whatever issues may arise. “I like to update my supervisors on the problems we’ve solved, without involving them in the process of getting it done.”
It’s a mindset that has served her, and the Memorial Healthcare System family, well.
Plaza Health Network
Claudia Innocent, FN, MSN
Claudia Innocent is the Director of Clinical Excellence for Plaza Health Network. In her role, she is responsible for driving the development, implementation and evaluation of clinical operations and strategic initiatives designed to enhance the quality of patient care. Innocent played a pivotal role in all seven of Plaza Health Network’s centers receiving recent national recognitions, accreditations and awards for quality and performance excellence (QAPI).
Innocent is the current president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association Directors of Nursing Administration (FADONA) and a member of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners (FLANP).
She received her Master of Science in Nursing in 2004, her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2003 from the University of Phoenix, and an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner program from Purdue University in 2017.
Sinai Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Chantal Williams, LPN
Chantal William is a Licensed Practical Nurse at Sinai Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center located in Miami, FL. She has been a nurse since 1990 and received her LPN license from Lindsey Hopkins Technical College. A graduate of Miami Dade College, Chantal is currently awaiting to take her board exam for her registered nurse (RN) license. A compassionate and dedicated nurse, she truly enjoys making her patients’ smile. During her time off, Chantal enjoys spending time with her son and encouraging his love of sports.
Marie Jean Pierre, RN
Marie Jean Pierre is a Registered Nurse at Sinai Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. She has been a nurse since 2011. She first obtained her licensed practice nurse license (LPN) from Lindsey Hopkins Technical College and then went on to obtain her RN license from Azure College. She enjoys working with her patients to provide them the best possible care. A mother of two, Marie enjoys spending her time off with her children.
Jackson Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Yvette Hobson, LPN
Yvette Hobson is a Licensed Professional Nurse at Jackson Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center located in Miami, FL. Yvette received her LPN certification from Lindsey Hopkins Technical School in 1994. She also received her certification as a Minimum Data Set (MDS) coordinator in 2000, which allows her to assess the functional capabilities of patients and formulate individual care plans. She joined the MDS team at Jackson Plaza in 2015. Yvette is also a licensed Healthcare Risk Manager for the State of Florida, as well as a member of NOBLE (National Organization of Black Law Executives), MDCS-NCNW (National Council of Negro Women), and the Miami-Dade NAACP Chapter.
Inelbis Gonzalez, RN
Inelbis Gonzalez is a Registered Nurse at Jackson Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Inelbis received her Associate of Science in Nursing degree in 2010 and her Bachelor’s Degree in 2012 from the University of Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico. Eager to help others and implement her skills right away, she began working at Jackson Plaza in May of 2013 as a floor nurse. Her compassionate and efficient care to patients was recognized when she was promoted to nurse supervisor in 2017. Inelbis is proud to provide patients with the highest quality care as she feels she is a caregiver at heart. That’s why she chose to devote her career to nursing and share her passion with the patients of Jackson Plaza.
Aventura Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Claudine Mateo Marcelin, LPN
Claudine Mateo Marcelin is the Director of Nursing at Aventura Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center located in North Miami Beach, FL. She began her nursing career in New Jersey as a Licensed Practical Nurse. After moving to Florida with her family in 2001, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Azure College School of Nursing, and, is currently working toward her master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner at the University of Phoenix. Claudine has worked as an ANAAC-certified MDS Coordinator, an Assistant Director of Nursing, and has served as a facility risk manager before joining the team at Aventura Plaza. She takes pride in her work and is involved in her community as a member of the Haitian American Nurse Association.
Arch Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Jessica Bocanegra, RN
Jessica Bocanegra is a Registered Nurse at Arch Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center located in North Miami, FL. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2012 from Barry University. Prior to beginning her nursing career, Jessica conducted home health visits with patients throughout the Miami area. Jessica joined Arch Plaza in 2013 as their wound care nurse director before transitioning to clinical nurse navigator.
Jessica says she enjoys the diversity of the patient she encounters in her career and values knowing that she can help them as well as their family members.
Nick Pana, LPN
Nick Pana is the Director of Nursing for Arch Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. While working as a civil engineer in the Philippines, Nick realized that his passion was helping others. He decided to shift his career focus to nursing and began his studies in 2006. Upon completing his LPN exam and RN degree, he began working for Plaza Health Network. Over the course of 11 years, Nick has risen in the ranks from nurse supervisor to nurse manager and is now the Director of Nursing for Arch Plaza. Knowing he made the right career move, Nick says he now has the ability to transfer his passion for nursing to his staff to ultimately offer their patients the highest quality care.
University Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
Ileana Gonzalez, LPN
Ileana Gonzalez is a Licensed Practical Nurse at University Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center located in Miami, FL. She received her nursing degree at the University Pelegrina Sarda Sarda in Havana, Cuba. She then worked for four years as a pediatric nurse in Juan Manuel Marquez Pediatric Teaching Hospital. Upon moving to Florida, Ileana applied her nursing skills here and had been working as a registered nurse in the home health arena for 14 years before joining the team at University Plaza, where she has been caring for patients for the last three years.
Mirta Reyes, RN
Mirta Reyes is a Registered Nurse at University Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Mirta has over 38 years of nursing experience having received her nursing degree in 1980 from Livia Gouverner Paseo Marti in Matanzas, Cuba. She joined University Plaza in 2015 and is currently a unit charge nurse in the center’s rehabilitation wing, helping patients return to optimal health and back to their normal lives as quickly as possible. Mirta’s extensive nursing experience is a benefit not only to the patients she helps each day, but to her colleagues who look to her as a nursing resource.
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