introduces the 2016 GEM finalists – Midwest states - July 1, 2016

Courtesy of NURSE.COM • July 1, 2016

Since the early days of our company’s founding, has believed in publicly recognizing and celebrating nursing excellence and has made doing so part of our company mission. Now, after nearly three decades, the GEM Awards program is the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the nation. The program underscores our belief that excellence exists in all areas of nursing, and we consider it a privilege to give meaning to excellence by publicly acknowledging nurses every chance we get. Here, we proudly introduce our 2016 regional finalists, selected by our RN judges from the many nominations we received this year.

Excellence in Clinical Nursing

Megan Walker, RN
Megan Walker, BSN, RN
Registered Nurse, Post-partum
Methodist Hospitals,
Gary, Ind.

On her 20-bed postpartum unit, Walker provides comprehensive maternal-child care to mothers, babies and their families. Diligent about encouraging, coaching and educating her patients about maternal-child health, she takes the time to establish a warm connection with them and their families and is attentive and responsive to their physical, emotional and educational needs. She seeks out community sources to deter financial costs for her patients, and offers educational information about community resources they can use after discharge.

She has been involved in the hospital’s skin-to-skin initiative, which promotes positive bonding and breast-feeding for mothers and new infants after cesarean and vaginal births. She is the chairwoman of the hospital’s newly distinguished milk bank, applying for grants through many foundations to help alleviate expenses. She also serves as a Magnet champion.

Walker regularly acts as a preceptor and mentor for new nurses and aides during their first year on the unit. She freely provides the newest evidence-based best practices to her colleagues and encourages ideas about implementation of them on the unit. Walker is described as a positive role model who is always boosting staff morale and offering words of wisdom and encouragement.

She also volunteers for community projects that serve underprivileged parents, and she initiated a community baby shower, which emphasizes safe-sleeping practices and breast-feeding. Having a strong desire to continue her education, she is enrolled in the women’s health NP program at the University of Cincinnati.

Nicole Albold, RN
Nicole Albold, BSN, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Clinical Nurse and Lactation Consultant, Women & Children
Rush University Medical Center

A 20-year veteran and clinical leader of the mother baby unit, Albold serves in a dual role of professional nurse and lactation consultant. She also has taken on more administrative duties, ensuring that the schedule for lactation consultants provides coverage seven days a week, 365 days a year. Over the years, she has educated countless new moms, family members, nurses, nurse practitioners and residents about breast-feeding. She is said to have influenced the nursing care provided to all women patients at the facility, even those admitted to other units while still breast-feeding.

Albold has taken a lead role in working to obtain baby-friendly USA status for the unit, a global program of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Preparing for that designation has entailed multiple chart reviews, interviews with staff nurses and patients, and extensive meetings with the policy and procedure committee to adopt all of the baby-friendly requirements. Her commitment and diligence have allowed her to balance her bedside duties along with the responsibilities of moving this initiative forward. Through it all, she has remained positive and upbeat, and her passion for nursing, in general, and breast-feeding in particular, is evident and contagious, her nominator said.

Albold is known for the way she understands and cares for the whole patient and family and masters respectful conversation, ensuring patients receive extraordinary care. Earning the admiration of physicians and peers, she makes those around her want to provide the best possible patient and family care.

Jennifer Doyle, RN
Jennifer Doyle, MSN, RN, CNP
Perinatal Outreach Coordinator/APN
Summa Health System
Akron, Ohio

In her role as an APRN, Doyle demonstrates assessment skills, critical thinking and the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with other healthcare professionals and the lay public. She serves as a case manager for high-risk perinatal transport patients and patients with gestational diabetes.

She also is a co-investigator on many research studies, including research about progesterone administration to prevent preterm birth; a standardized oxytocin administration protocol to reduce postpartum hemorrhage, for which she received grant funding; a clinical trial pilot research study about implementing Relaxbirth in an urban intrapartum setting; and a project to limit elective delivery prior to 39 weeks.

She has served as a clinical instructor in the accelerated program at a local university for the maternal-child rotation, and as nursing faculty in an associate degree program for students’ first clinical rotation, allowing her to influence students’ practice and skills.

Doyle is an Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses-certified fetal monitor instructor-trainer. She frequently writes journal articles and presents at local, regional and national conferences about evidence-based practice, standardized postpartum oxytocin administration protocol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, obstetric emergencies, fetal heart monitoring, tachysystole and simulations. As a member of the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative, she has worked on cessation of 39-week elective inductions, antenatal steroid administration and progesterone to prevent preterm birth.

She loves practicing at the bedside, bringing current evidence and practice to fellow staff, providers and patients as well as improving the patient experience, enhancing best practices and promoting optimal outcomes, her nominator said.

Tracy Haberkorn, RN
Tracy Haberkorn, BSN, MS, RN, CNOR
Epidemiology Coordinator, Surgical Services
Advocate Christ Medical Center
Oak Lawn, Ill.

Haberkorn possesses a passion for excellence that sets her apart, her nominator said. She performs surveillance for infections within the surgical division at the facility and incorporates the latest standards according to evidenced-based literature, identifying potential barriers in infection control practices. She rounds in all areas, including day surgery, holding, OR and PACU, to identify potential unsafe practices and improve them. She consistently reviews departmental policies and updates and educates staff about infection control practices.

Haberkorn is responsible for the education of approximately 400 associates and volunteers within the surgical division. Her colleagues admire the way she sees no walls or barriers and gets the job done. She engages staff to become hand-washing, handoff tool and Foley champions, and her persistence and enthusiasm to drive down infections brings success to the entire department, her nominator said.

A skilled and compassionate communicator who accepts change to better herself and the surgery department, she possesses a desire to improve patient outcomes, fostering professional relationships and solid collaboration throughout the division. Haberkorn displays the highest standards of integrity and ethics, and uses her voice as her greatest asset to identify solutions for process improvements. Her communication skills and sharing of relevant industry and professional trends and practices make her invaluable to the team.

In addition to her main role as epidemiology coordinator, she is known to scrub in and relieve staff as needed. Always willing to help, Haberkorn is described as someone who defines the word “teamwork.”

Natalie Seewald, RN
Natalie Seewald, MSN, RN, CRRN
Direct Care RN, Patient Recovery Unit
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

A consummate professional, Seewald coordinates comprehensive nursing care on a 24-bed inpatient unit for patients who have sustained a wide range of injuries or illnesses including stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cancer and progressive neurological disorder. She provides exemplary patient and family education, and is always willing to go above and beyond for her patients to deliver the highest care possible.

Periodically she is assigned to the role of charge nurse and carries the additional responsibilities of creating shift assignments, coordinating patient admissions and discharges, and assessing and intervening as needed with patient and family concerns. Serving as the first-line resource for any issues or challenges that occur during the shift, Seewald works proactively and effectively when identifying and addressing any clinical or patient issues or those that could affect a subsequent shift.

She created and developed a one-page document that summarizes patient needs and implemented a process for consistent and timely document updates by unit nurse leaders. Charge nurses refer to this document as the patient pulse, which is created every time there is a new patient assignment.

Seewald also serves as a preceptor for nursing students as well as for newly hired nurses. When she first started mentoring new graduates she advocated for additional protected administration time to enable more thoughtful and purposeful relationship-building with new nurses in their transition period. Always willing to help her peers, she is described as a natural self-starter who is involved in many professional initiatives and unit programs.

Debra Skopec, RN
Debra Skopec, BSN, RN, NIC-BC
Neonatal Outcomes RN, NICU
Advocate Children’s
Hospital-Oaklawn (Ill.)

Skopec joined the NICU as a new graduate, and is described as a respected member of the staff, a team player and a nurse who has assisted with bringing the facility’s NICU to a new level of care.

For the last decade, she has worked as the neonatal outcomes nurse and is responsible for all of the state-required items for the neonate, which include newborn screening, hearing screening, eye examinations, immunizations and car seat challenge testing. Because of her thorough, meticulous attention to detail, the NICU has 100% compliance with all state regulatory testing, and she also ensures appropriate follow-up is clearly outlined at the time of the patient’s discharge.

Recognizing the importance of learning, Skopec provides comprehensive staff and family education about car seats and car seat safety. Because of her efforts she was appointed to the Safe Kids Illinois committee to participate in programs that promote car seat use to a wider audience.

She also has educated and instructed nurses about working with substance exposed withdrawal infants, and has developed a process to help staff nurses identify at-risk infants, so they can provide proper treatment and anticipate the needs of the infant throughout withdrawal. Her current project is focused on care of the micro-preemie from birth to discharge. She and her team worked collaboratively with other NICUs to develop best practices.

Her nominator said she is passionate about quality care, has facilitated numerous quality initiatives and has made the facility a stand-out leader in safe, quality care.