Five Fairbanks Memorial Hospital employees receive AK Nurse of the Year Awards
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (Dec. 8, 2011) – Five Fairbanks Memorial Hospital/Denali Center (FMH/DC) employees received the Alaska March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards on Friday, Nov.18 at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage.
Of the 120 nominees of the prestigious statewide award, twenty-seven were FMH/DC employees. The winners from FMH/DC were Hannah Brice-Smith, RN, for community case management care coordinator, Gena Edmiston, RN and chief nursing officer at FMH/DC, for Administration, Eugenia “Genie” Erickson, LPN, for LPN, Heather Cunningham, RN, for Rising Star, and Leilani Sauer for Friend of Nursing.
The Alaska March of Dimes Nurse of the Year program recognizes nurses in 24 different categories. Of the twenty-one civilian awards given, FMH/DC employees were awarded five. Three military awards were given as well. The recipients in each category are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses or those who support nursing, whose leadership and contributions have made a significant impact in their community and the profession of nursing. Patients, friends, colleagues and other health professionals nominate over 100 nurses in Alaska.
Dr. Randy McGregor, Chief Medical Officer for FMH/DC shared his thoughts: “I am impressed by the number of nominees from Fairbanks. These awards honor and commend our incredible nursing staff.”
According to the criteria outlined in the nomination process from the March of Dimes, a nominee must have lived in Alaska as of Jan. 1, 2010, and must be a registered nurse in good standing with the Alaska State Board of Nursing in order to be considered. The nominee must exemplify an extraordinary level of patient care, compassion and customer service, and must be perceived as a leader among peers and in affecting positive change in the profession, workplace and community.
Hannah Brice-Smith received the Community Case Management Care Coordinator award in part for developing the Breast Cancer Navigation and Clinical Trials at FMH/DC. The facility’s Breast Cancer Program is currently the first and only accredited NAPBC (National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers) in the State of Alaska. Brice-Smith served as the co-chair and chair of the nursing Professional Growth and Development Team and developed the nursing career ladder and recognition program. This facility program is so well developed and successful that the 21-hospital Banner Health system adopted several components of the program and invited her to serve on the system-wide Professional Growth and Development team.
Brice-Smith also serves on the house-wide chemotherapy committee and teaches a quarterly chemotherapy class to nursing staff, as well as organizing and facilitating a community Breast Health Symposium that provides continuing education for physicians, nurses and professional staff. Brice-Smith is the first RN in the state of Alaska to certify as a Breast Patient Navigator.
The Administration award, given to Gena Edmiston, Chief Nursing Officer, illustrates the level of dedication to quality care at FMH/DC. Edmiston also serves as the administrator for Denali Center, the co-located long term care facility. Recently Edmiston initiated a house-wide patient education video-on-demand system, the creation of a perioperative academy, evidence based practice improvements and a scholarship system for nurses to focus on research and performance improvement projects. She has delivered success with initiatives improving sleep apnea screening, transitions in care, and brought community resources together for improved access to much needed care for mentally ill and chemically dependent adolescents and adults.
Through Edmiston’s leadership at Denali Center, a model of care utilizing a full-time nurse practitioner has led to a 70% reduction in hospitalizations. As a result, the elders who reside at Denali Center are able to be cared for in an environment that is familiar to them and has additionally reduced the cost of care of these patients. Denali Center’s model of care involves maintaining the quality of life associated with patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. This effort parallels one of the goals of Healthy People 2020, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
Thirty-eight years of providing excellent quality patient care aided Genie Erickson in receiving the LPN award. Erickson serves as the department chair for the quality and practice councils of Shared Leadership and also enhanced elements of the electronic medical record. She co-chaired a nursing skill fair and is part of the hospital-wide tracer team that maintains Joint Commission standards.
Heather Cunningham, a new nurse on the medical unit, received the Rising Star award. An FMH/DC employee for only nine months, she is one of eleven nurses in the 14 week Medical/Surgical Academy for new RN’s. Cunningham also volunteered her time in the community-wide disaster exercise and taught 14-18 year olds about heart and lungs at the Alaska Summer Research Academy. She had approximately 20 students who learned about a variety of healthcare fields during their course. Cunningham delivers an extraordinary level of patient care, compassion and customer service, and community involvement.
Leilani Sauer received the Friend of Nursing award for her active involvement in the nursing leadership councils that focus on practice, education, quality, management, and clinical coordination. Sauer has contributed efforts towards the FMH/DC quest for magnet recognition by assisting with the Patient and Resident Centered Care committee and reporting and interpreting patient satisfaction data. She works diligently to improve patient satisfaction scores and communication with nursing by encouraging hourly rounding and spearheading the hourly rounding campaign, visible to both patients and staff. Sauer has also implemented volunteers from the community into the Service Excellence program.
FMH/DC CEO Mike Powers shared that "perhaps the greatest compliment and recognition of this special achievement is the fact that nominations came from peers within the community and the organization. I think that endorsement alone is a reflection of how respected these individuals are within community and state nursing circles.” Powers indicated that FMH/DC aspires to meet the notable American Nurse Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition standards. “Magnet recognition is the highest honor for nursing quality and connection to the community; fewer than 400 hospitals nation-wide have met the criteria.” Powers added “the March of Dimes nominees and awardees help affirm the FMH/DC reputation for exceptional nursing quality and relationship with the community.”
FMH Contact: Clover Tiffany, Interim Director of Communications