Friends of Nursing 2010

posted November 12th, 2010
Friends of Nursing 2010

Brenda Wilcox, RN, was honored, humbled and excited, all at once.

Last year, her colleagues surprised her with the announcement that she had won the Myra Maddocks Award for excellence in medical surgical nursing. Wilcox was honored for her part in developing the patient navigator program at Duke Raleigh Hospital that helps newly diagnosed oncology patients and their families.

“It was a sweet thing to get the award, and then it became a particularly sweet, humbling thing when they explained that I had been nominated by my peers,” says Wilcox. “It still means a lot to me that I was recognized by my fellow nurses for the work we do for our patients and families.”
Like all award winners, Wilcox also received a $1,000 educational stipend, which she will use to further her nursing education.

The Maddox Award is one of two special nursing honors given each year that are part of the Friends of Nursing Program, a recognition and education program unique to Duke Medicine.

This month, a new class of Friends of Nursing award winners will be recognized at a gala held in their honor.

“It is was a high honor to be recognized for my contribution to patient care,” says Rhonda Lovelace, RN, a nurse manager at Durham Regional Hospital, a Friends of Nursing winner in 2009 who has several winners in the units she manages. “It is inspiring to be at the gala, look out at all those nurses and know we help so many people and families.”

This year’s 36 award winners, detailed on the following pages, join many other Duke nurses who have been honored since Friends of Nursing was begun in 1988 by the Blalock family of Bradenton, Fla., as a way to thank our nurses for the exceptional and compassionate care they provide. Over the years, the initial gift has been multiplied by donations from many other grateful individuals and corporations.

Friends of Nursing is run by and for Duke nurses. Nurses from across Duke Medicine staff its committees, select award winners and gather input on the direction of the program. Also, Friends of Nursing supports nurses in all different venues, from education to research to the bedside.

“Friends of Nursing transcends all parts of the Duke Medicine mission and covers all the types of nursing practice,“ says Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, RN , chief nursing officer for Duke University Health System and Duke Hospital. “It’s a very special program, something that very few health systems have.”

The awards form just a part of the comprehensive professional development goals of Friends of Nursing. In addition to the educational grants provided through the annual awards, Friends of Nursing provides stipends that allow Duke nurses to make a presentation at a regional, national and international professional and academic event.

Additionally, Friends of Nursing also organizes the Martha White Blalock Nurse Scholar’s Program, a lecture series which brings nationally renowned nurse scholars and clinicians to Duke several times annually.

“The scholars program is a great educational opportunity you just won’t find everywhere,” says Judy Prewitt, MSN, RN, a DUHS associate chief nursing officer and past Friends of Nursing winner. “Friends of Nursing is one of the many great things about being a Duke nurse.”

2010 Friends of Nursing Award Winners

Zita Achacoso, BSN, RN-BC, CNIII
5-1 Medicine
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She is a very compassionate, competent, caring and professional nurse who I would like to see at my own family member’s bedside. She is a great resource for practically anything, and we receive numerous letters and comments from patients about the great care she provides. She does not settle for anything less than perfect.
- a colleague


Brittany Bass, BSN, RN, CNIII, PCCN
Unit 7800 – Step-down Pulmonary/Renal
Mary Ann & Robert H. Peter Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

This nurse is an excellent preceptor and thoughtful of new nurses’ concerns and learning opportunities. She is also a very dedicated charge nurse, finding solutions to problems on the floor. She is probably the most concerned patient advocate. I have seen her work with patients over several days to teach and educate them about new medicines so that they are completely comfortable at time of discharge.
- a colleague


Helen Bates, LPN
4th floor Medical Oncology
Maddocks Award for Excellence in Medical Surgical Nursing

Helen is a true patient advocate and overall excellent nurse. She is always available to help someone or to take time to listen to her patients. She is willing to go the extra mile to give patients the best care. Helen is a nurse who continually strives to learn more and educate others. I would want her to take care of me.

- a colleague



Violette Frances Blumenthal, BSN, CNIV, RNC
Unit 5700 – Birthing Center
Award for Excellence in Women’s Health Nursing

When a mom on bed rest was unable to attend a prenatal class, this nurse brought the class to her and her family. She collected all the supplies needed for teaching hospitalized patients so that this mom, and other patients like her, would be provided with the information needed to care for their newborns. She participated in a research project that determined that prenatal classes prepare patients for their in-birth experience. She also co-authored a poster and presented this research at the North Carolina/South Carolina Perinatal Conference in 2009.
- a colleague


Tanya Thompson Bolton, BSN, RN, CNII
Unit 3200 – Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Nan and Hugh Cullman Heart Center Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

This nurse is certified in every piece of equipment that we use in the Cardio-Thoracic Intensive Care Unit. In addition, she is a preceptor for new nurses and is the chair of our Skin Care Committee. She provides excellent service to our patients and their families. As a charge nurse, I know I can depend on this nurse to take on any assignment and do it well. After receiving her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, she is already planning to re-enroll in school to pursue a master’s degree in nursing.
- a colleague


Kim Burchette, ADN, RN, CNIII
Unit 7800 – Step-down Pulmonary/Renal
Janet H. Clapp Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She is the team player all of the time. She takes time out of her day to do small things that lift patients’ spirits. For example, during the holidays she buys Christmas ornaments to decorate patients’ rooms. The patients’ smiles are as bright as the decorations. She also role models leadership skills on the unit. As a key member of our Medicine Service Excellence Team, she was instrumental in educating unit staff on new strategies that included a new routine for charge nurse rounding, actively promoting getting patients ready for early discharge and created our “Kudos” Staff Recognition board which included inspiring quotes from famous leaders.
- a nurse manager


Katie Cabaniss, BSN, RN, OCN
Clinic 1A – Multidisciplinary Breast Oncology
Evelyn Morgan Award for Excellence in Oncology Nursing

She is a young, energetic, compassionate nurse with excellent problem-solving and leadership skills who has been working with me and my physician for about a year. She is an excellent teacher who spends time in person and on the phone teaching patients about their disease, treatment and side effects. She uses various teaching methods based on how she thinks they will best understand.
- a colleague


Toni Creasey, BSN, RN, CN III
Unit 8200 – General Medicine
Ernestine Davis Cole Award for Excellence in MICU Nursing

She paired up with another nurse years ago when they realized they made a great team to precept other nurses. They have been inseparable and have produced strong nurses (new graduates who can handle critical situations within six months of orientation). She understands the importance of a strong team of nurses and the impact on patient care, so she is a strong and successful contributor to that goal.
- a colleague


Anita E. Docher, MLPN
Unit 2100 – General Surgery
Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice, LPN

This nurse looks at each patient individually, gives her best care, and involves the family to understand the value of nutrition and family support. When patients are not motivated, I have seen her provide extra time to discuss other options with the nurses that may motivate them. She keeps physical therapy, occupational therapy and limb loss clinicians in mind when discussing care with registered nurses and the charge nurse. She is a team player and has provided the unit with laugher, hard work and leadership.
- a colleague


Robin Farabee, RN, CNIII
PACU, Duke North
Award for Excellence in Perioperative Nursing

This nurse is an excellent communicator with patients and families. She tells them right up front what to expect, what the unit or hospital policy is (and WHY) and keeps them informed through the recovery room process to decrease their stress level. By giving clear, timely information and building relationships with the family members, she greatly improves their level of satisfaction with their Duke surgical experience.
- a colleague


Janice Febre, BSN, RN, CN IV
Unit 3200 – Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Eli Lilly Award for Excellence in Critical Care Nursing

She is a phenomenal leader. Ever since I started on the unit, I knew she was a nurse I could go to and ask anything without judgment and would want to be like when I furthered my career. She is a great patient and family advocate; she is the patients’ voice when they don’t have one.
- a colleague


Carrie Feth, ADN, RN, CNII
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

Her ability to connect with any patient is extraordinary. She is well liked by patients who have sent many letters and notes complimenting her on her reassuring manner, kindness and professionalism. She is never too busy to make every attempt to meet the patient’s needs.
- a colleague



Jo Ann Garofalo, BSN, RN, CPSN
Clinic 3J – Plastic Surgery
Norma L. Harris Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She has helped women battling breast cancer since coming to Duke in 2001. She is a model of what a nurse should be and how nursing impacts patient care and quality of care. Her sensitivity and ability to know who needs more explanation, a second visit or more one-on-one time with the surgeon is uncanny. She has worked diligently over the years to ensure our Web site and take home materials are clear, completed and helpful to our patients.
- a physician


Chrissy Gresham, ADN, RN, CNIII, CHPN
Duke HomeCare & Hospice
Drew Award for Excellence in Hospice Nursing Practice

This nominee embodies the characteristics that are essential for a hospice nurse and she performs them at the highest professional level. End of life care is extremely challenging and requires a level of understanding and compassion that goes beyond normal practice. I have always been impressed with her ability to establish this connection with her patients as they go through the dying process. Her patients routinely ask: “When are you coming back?”
- chief medical officer of Duke Primary Care


Brianna Grohman, BSN, RN, CNII
Unit 6300 – Head & Neck, Urology, Plastics
Hill-Rom Wound Care Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

This nurse is a valuable member of our team. She serves as charge nurse, preceptor and mentor. She is a fierce patient advocate and goes through the proper channels to ensure patients’ needs are met. She is an excellent teacher to patients, families and peers. This nurse has excellent critical- thinking skills and mentors other nurses on the unit to think through situations and come up with needed solutions to problems together.
- a colleague


Shelley Harmon, RN, CAPA
Davis Ambulatory Surgical Center
DCHC Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She is always able to see the big picture, especially when it comes to patient care. She has a kind, gentle spirit that lets her patients know they are her number one priority. She is very supportive of staff, from continuing education to personal concerns. She is the type of nurse I would like to be when I grow up.
- a colleague


Anne Keohane, RN, CNII
7-1 Orthopaedics
Hill-Rom Wound Care Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

Our Graduates: Engaged, Mastering, Succeeding (GEMS) remark that this nurse helps them build confidence in their skills. They always mention how knowledgeable and thorough she is. Recently, her quick actions and excellent assessment skills potentially saved a patient from respiratory arrest.
- a colleague


Hannah Crowell, BSN, RN, CPN
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
Award for Excellence in Nursing Education

As an educator, she sets high standards for the nurses. She is frequently on the unit, checking on the nurses and available as a resource. She is involved in organizing and planning the agenda for the orientation classes, and is able to adapt them to the ever changing needs of the unit. She provides excellence in nursing by educating dozens of excellent nurses!
- a colleague


Lisa LaFata, BSN, RN, CNIII
Emergency Department
Award for Excellence in Emergency Trauma/Nursing

Despite my broken neck, I consider myself a very lucky person. I can’t help to continue to feel so very fortunate that my nominee was the one there during the most trying and uncertain part of my stay. At the beginning, my nurse found me anxious, scared and full of apprehension. She left me smiling. I still had a long road ahead of me, but she got me through the roughest patch.
- a patient


Oluwaseyi Lawal, ADN, RN, CNII, CCRN
Unit 7200 – Heart Services
Ernestine Davis Cole Award for Excellence in CCU Nursing

This nurse has demonstrated excellent clinical skills since she started working on unit 7200. I have a lot of respect for her clinical judgment. She is working towards her bachelor’s degree in nursing, thereby setting an example and providing motivation to newer nurses who plan to continue their education. She also recently obtained her certificate in critical care nursing. She pioneered the urinary tract infection (UTI) project on our unit to decrease infection rates. She also represented our unit at National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition advocating the prevention and reduction of UTIs.
- a colleague


Kelli Lee, RN, CNIII
Labor & Delivery
DRH Auxiliary Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She sets the bar high and encourages others to do so as well. She is proactive when caring for patients, and anticipates their needs and ensures their expectations are meant to the best of her ability. She demonstrates the kind of service that patients write to tell us about.
- a colleague



Alene Love, MA, RN, B-C, SMI
Advanced Clinical Practice
Wilma Minniear Award for Excellence in Nursing Mentorship

She always maintains a positive attitude toward change. She has an innate ability to come up with new ideas that turn challenges into opportunities. As a team leader she supported a new program that was created to provide additional night coverage for our team. With her support it became a successful part of our program, leading to improved patient and staff satisfaction!
- a colleague


Emergency Department
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She is passionate about learning and has taken on the education of the entire department. You can always find her on the unit, teaching new graduates and seasoned employees new ways of doing things. She is an excellent bedside nurse, and very respected by the department.
- a colleague


Misty Lyon, ADN, RN, CN III
Intensive Care Nursery
Terry L. Johnson Award for Excellence in Pediatric Nursing

Have you ever had an experience where you’ve felt like someone was sent to you at a certain, specific time in your life so that you can get through your current situation? I have. Our twins were born at 25 weeks and I can’t begin to express in words how scary it has been and still can be. My husband and I truly believe that this nurse was sent to us so that we could make it through this up-and-down roller coaster ride they call the Intensive Care Nursery.
- a patient’s mother


LeAnn Mertins, ADN, RN, CNIV, GRN
Unit 7100 – Heart Services
Heart Center Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Nursing in Recognition of Mary Ann Peter

This nurse is proactive in recognizing patients and family needs. She is always ahead of the game and is a strong patient advocate for all patients on the unit. Whether she functions as a care nurse or charge nurse, she always puts the patients’ needs first and collaborates with every health team member to achieve what is best for the patients. She is always recognized in Press Ganey reports as being a wonderful caregiver, exhibiting a positive influence, and providing advice and guidance to patients.
- a colleague


Johanna Paschal, RN, CNIII
Critical Care Unit
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

Her positive energy is inspiring to coworkers. She is always thinking of creative ways to recognize others. She is a preceptor, charge nurse, code team member and functions as a unit educator on many pieces of equipment. She never waivers—she remains calm in some of the most stressful circumstances.
- a colleague


Faryl Podolle, BSN, RN, CNIV
Unit 3300 – Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Nan and Hugh Cullman Heart Center Award for Excellence in Nursing

She has been a dedicated and devoted Duke nurse for the past 24 years. She has selflessly supported the professional development and recognition of others. She developed and led creative initiatives at a service in-line and unit-based level that have produced significant outcomes. She is a role model for others in providing clinically sound and compassionate care. She truly puts the needs of patients, families and her coworkers above her own. She has a love and enthusiasm for nursing that is inspiring.
- a colleague


Gloria R. “Pam” Porter, BSN, RN, CNIV, CCRN-CSC
Unit 3200 – Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Nurse Researcher Mentor Award

This nominee constantly strives to improve nursing care by conducting research initiatives. She wrote a research article, titled “Stagnant Perceptions of Nursing among High School Students: Results of a Shadowing Intervention Study,” which was published in the Journal of Professional Nursing. The research examined the expectations and perceptions of high school students contemplating the field of nursing, so we can better understand why some novice nurses leave the profession after one to two years. Through discussions we now encourage all nurses without Cardio Thoracic Intensive Care Unit experience to shadow a nurse on the unit.
- a nurse manager


Meghann Roberts, MSN, RN- BC
Acute Pain Service
Inez “Turk” James Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

This nominee has been at Duke for more than five years. During this time she achieved her master’s of science in nursing degree while working full time on Unit 6100. In the past four years, she has been an integral part of Acute Pain Service (APS), managing epidurals, regional anesthesia for patients and teaching new nurses about pain management. This nominee dedicates her time to finding ways to relieve patients’ pain. She is a mentor to the Pain Management RN team on 6100 nights, a leader in APS and an excellent role model.
- a colleague


E. Faye Staton, BSN, RN, CNSC
Total Parenteral Nutrition
Watson Family Award for Excellence in Patient/Family Education

Over the years she has worked with patients with varied life experiences and many different disease processes. After assessing patients’ living conditions, she adapts the instructions to meet their abilities while maintaining a safe environment. This includes homes with no running water, people living on the streets, and those who have available resources but need someone to make it understandable for them.
- a colleague


Sherry Strader, RN, CNOR
Davis Ambulatory Surgical Center
DCHC Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She has an exceptional talent for problem solving and is innovative in creating strategic plans not only for our facility, but for North Carolina. She serves with unselfish dedication and commitment, and truly cares for her staff and makes many sacrifices for them.
- a colleague



Marie Szalanski, ADN, RN, CNIII
Critical Care Unit
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She treats the whole patient, not just the symptoms. Patients and families ask for her by name. We had one patient who just wanted a cup of coffee and a daily paper. Marie bought him coffee and a paper each day she worked.
- a colleague



Kim Thacker, AS, RN
Clinic 1L – Neurosciences/Adult Spine/Neurosurgery
Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership

This nurse is the best leader that nursing staff in the clinic could ask for. In two years she has created an environment where the nursing staff feels empowered, enjoy their work and are able to relate their work to the bigger picture of the mission and vision of the hospital. She has created a positive work culture of accountability, trust and encouragement. She tackles all issues with a smile and positive attitude, and it has truly transformed the way the clinic functions.
- a colleague


Mylene Valdez, BSN, RN, CNII
Intensive Care Unit
Hill-Rom Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

The one outstanding trait that this nurse displays is her constant positive, courteous, compassionate nature. She responds to any situation with this type of demeanor. “No worries” this nurse is often heard to say during the most challenging times. This nurse quietly goes about the day to day routine, helping others, facilitating optimal patient care, discussing the patient’s plan of care with the physician, making good suggestions, looking at the big picture not just the next hour or two. This nurse is often mentioned by patients and families, identified as “the star” of the unit, “the best nurse we have ever had,” “the reason we would come back to your hospital.”
- a colleague


Jeanne Verrecchio, ADN, RN, CNIV, OCN, CHPN

Unit 9200 – Adult Bone Marrow Transplant
Edward and Florence O’Keefe Award for Excellence in Oncology Nurse Practice

Being able to care for the dying patient is a privilege and one that this nurse embraces completely. I recall one episode that demonstrates her ability to recognize the dying patients’ needs. There was a patient who was acutely ill and actively decompensating. She established a relationship with the patient and his family. During this time, the patient shared his wish not to be resuscitated. The nurse, being the patient’s advocate, collaborated with the multidisciplinary team who carried out his wishes.
- a nurse manager


Julie Webb, MSN, RN, CNIV, CEN
Vascular Access Specialty Team
DRH Medical Staff Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice

She strives daily for improving her knowledge and supporting others for the betterment of our patients. She doesn’t wait for problems to come to her; she seeks out issues and works on solutions before they escalate. She is also a leader in the community; she coordinated 24-hour coverage of medical personnel during the Durham Relay for Life event in 2009 and 2010, raised $1,200 for American Cancer Society, and assisted Watts School of Nursing students with coordinating a hot dog sale to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
- a colleague

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