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Simply the Best

Vol. 2 •Issue 9 • Page 14
2002 Best Nursing Team

Simply the Best

Nurses at JFK Medical Center 2 East A earn 'Best Nursing Team' status

"I truly believe the staff of 2 East A is the essence of a true team. Patients and families send letters thanking the staff for their 'compassionate' care, for 'going above and beyond' and describing the staff as 'angels of mercy,' 'true professionals' and 'bringing sunshine into their lives.'"

JFK Medical Center 2 East A (colorectal, GI, GU) unit was tapped as ADVANCE for Nurses Best Nursing Team of 2002. Nominated by Suzette Sequeira, BSN, RN,C, the 2 East A staff truly defines team spirit.

"We support each other by maintaining a philosophy that no one nurse will have a really bad day. If one particular nurse is having a crisis the other staff pitches in to make the best of the situation," wrote Sequeira. "We support each other by being flexible with our schedule. The staff will cover for each other or for call outs, and rotate to alternate shifts to maintain adequate staffing."

Almost 100 nursing teams from across the New York/New Jersey region submitted entries seeking to be named the best team. Entries were awarded scores in each of the following categories: awards/recognition, initiative, adaptability, teamwork, "above and beyond," recruitment/retention and knowledge. The judges were nurse leaders Robert Piemonte, EdD, RN, CAE, FAAN, president of New York State Nurses Association and former president of National Student Nurses Association; Mary Foley, MS, RN, president of the American Nurses Association; and Donna Demarest, EdD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing at The College of New Rochelle.

Judges said it was hard choosing the best team – so many entries demonstrated an outstanding commitment, dedication and scope of practice. Scores were averaged and produced ties for second place, fourth place and fifth place.

Other award-winning nursing teams came from: the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center; The Stone Center of New Jersey; JFK Medical Center; Nassau (NY) University Medical Center; Long Island (NY) Jewish Medical Center; Long Beach (NY) Medical Center and The General Hospital Center at Passaic (NJ).


Judges found nurses on 2 East A at JFK Medical Center, Edison, NJ, personified teamwork. Here are some highlights from their winning entry:


The team has received many internal awards from the facility, noting the team's service and commitment to patients and each other. Staff from 2 East A received the first "Caught in the Act" awards, which are presented to JFK staff who are recognized for caring and going above and beyond the call of duty. Two East A has a unit-based employee of the month, called "Stellar Star of the Month." A bulletin board on the unit displays the staff members picture and anecdotes from peers.


Two East A had the highest Press Ganey score for the third quarter for the entire acute division at JFK Medical Center. For the fourth quarter overall nursing scores in 2001, 2 East A had the highest Press Ganey score for the med/surg units at JFK Medical Center.

"The staff worked together to exceed patients' expectations. Using the phrase, 'Is there anything else I can do for you,' we asked patients — and each other — what we could do to help. As the nurse manager, I started making daily patient rounds and have been able to reach out to patients and families. Patients and family comment that it means a great deal to them that the manager is asking them 'Do you know how to use the call?' 'Is the staff meeting your needs?'

"We improved our work environment by agreeing on ground rules. The ground rules consist of mutual respect and trust — the consequences of not working together is not acceptable and the need to adapt to change is essential to our well-being."


"Our team copes with stress by pitching in to solve the crisis. We work very well together to achieve optimal patient care. When we cannot effectively cope with a difficult situation we use the resources available such as the chaplains, hospice, the case management team or another nursing unit."


"We use the team concept to accomplish our unit goals such as the 'Caught in the Act' [of caring] award." The entire staff agreed to work toward better patient satisfaction by asking, 'Is there anything else I can do for you?' We were the first unit to achieve this goal. The entire team agreed to use the service question and the results were reflected in our Press Ganey scores. It's become apart of 'our culture.'"

Going Above and Beyond

After the events of Sept. 11, the staff of 2 East A participated in a community blood drive. "As the nurse manager, I routinely receive praise from physicians, patients and family on how the staff goes above and beyond their duty. I post these letters on the unit for everyone see."


"We filled six vacancies in the year 2001 – these six individuals are still apart of our team. Our orientation phase is tailored to meet the newly hired staff's needs. The RN orientation can last up to 10 weeks. As the nurse manager, I meet with the newly hired staff weekly to discuss their progress and to set up goals for the following week. Each new hire is paired up with a preceptor – they work the same schedule. This has worked very well. The newly hired staff feel prepared to go off of orientation and transition well in their roles."

As a recruitment goal, the staff of 2 East A always welcomes nursing students with a small reception on their first day. The student nurses fill out an evaluation form of the unit and staff; the comments are always positive. The students describe the nurses as "positive role models" and "great resources."


"As a manager, I recognize the importance of continuing education and will send nurses to attend in-house and community seminars. The nurses attend the seminars and then share their knowledge with the staff. Every time there is a new technology, our education department provides in-services to the staff. There are also competencies that need to be maintained yearly."

As a colorectal surgery, GI and GU unit, the staff is frequently used as a resource to other units regarding ostomies and PCA.

Team members include: Mary Anne Keyes, RN, VP of patient care services; Angela Buza, RN, director of patient care services; Suzette Sequeira, BSN, RN,C, nurse manager; Bernadette Klabonski, RN, assistant nurse manager; Donna Majewski, RN, assistant nurse manager; Suzanne Avino, RN,C; Ann Marie Zarszynski, RN,C; Susan Czeh, RN; Tracey Cundiff, RN,C; Jill Broderson, RN; Michelle Ortiz, RN; Catherine Peery, RN; Mei-Ching Tseng, RN; Floro Lat, RN; Josefina Macalintal, RN; Luzvimind Dorsett, RN; Diane Krissak, RN; Theresa Holstein, RN; Diane Louis, RN, med/surg clinical nurse specialist; Paula Storm, RN, case manager; Nancy Moskwa, RN, risk management; Carolann Henein, LPN; Phyllis Tucciarone, LPN; Paula Boone, PCT; Edith Browne, PCT; Minaxi Desai, PCT; Eugenie Jean-Baptiste, PCT, Keely Robinson, PCT; Neriza Sebastian, PCT; Yolanda Villegas, PCT; Faheemah Walton, PCT; Betsy Yannazzno, PCT; nursing unit secretaries Arlene Farinich and Cheryl Kenny; clinical nursing unit secretaries Carolyn Fedin and Vicki Hranj; Janice Young, social worker; Linda Chudnow, register dietician; Cora Doquesa, dietary aide; Maria Pedrosa, environmental services; David Narciso, environmental services; Julissa Campion, career development aide; Donna Flanzbaum, vocational rehabilitation assistant; Mary Beth Holman, pharmacy technician; Maria Lazaro, clerical coordinator; and Jaclyn Prybylko, career development aide.

Three Teams Share Second-Place Honors

The William Randolph Hearst Burn Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital

"Flashback: 8:55 a.m., Sept. 11, 2002. Controlled chaos, phones ringing, nurses coming in not even scheduled to work. This was the response of all disciplines: nursing administration, respiratory, doctors, therapy, chaplains, pharmacists and housekeeping. We came together like no other time in our history. It was a fine-tuned engine ready to accelerate. IV stations, burn care stations, the pharmacy team all in place.

"The first patients start to arrive shortly after 9 a.m. É We know what has to be done; a lot of work is ahead of us. We set in motion to care for some of the worst burns seen in this generation. Through it all, the exhaustion sets in but this coalition of team members holds strong. One horrific burn after another we support and help each other. Through the fears and tears we grow close and we are there for one another. Some staff leaving home and living at the hospital for weeks on end. The team holds strong. Through it all we have the TEAM!"

Nominated by Frank Costello, MSN, RN, CCRN, nurse clinician; Holly Mackaly, MSN, RN, CCRN, nurse clinician; Barbara Ann Ritchwood, MSN, RN, senior staff nurse and Daniel R. Haughie, RN, assistant nurse manager, William Randolph Hearst Burn Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Manhattan, came in second in ADVANCE's Best Nursing Team contest.

The nursing team at William Randolph Hearst Burn Center was thrust into the roll of team leaders during and after the event of 9-11. They coordinated both support and medical staff to optimize the available resources both material and personnel. The burn center was converted from a 20-bed ICU into a 44-bed ICU in less than 2 hours.

Team members include: Jennifer Bianchi, RN; Marianne Midget, NC; Marie Exume, RN; Marialinda Manalac, RN, assistant nurse manager; Ann Kearney, RN; Michelle Bryan, PCT; Bernadette Maguire, RN; Daniel Haughie, RN, assistant nurse manager; Bethany Bloomer, RN; Eugene Ambrosio, RN; Jo Kraynick, RN; Floret Temple, LPN; Polly Frank, RN; Nichole Alden, RN; Patsy Hinkson, clerk; Deirdre Mullen, RN; Hayes Vargo, RN; Ruth Keegan, PCT; Rafael Portales, RN; Jonathan Gilbride, RN; Yvonne McNairn, PCT; Frank Costello, MSN, RN, CCRN; Judy Dziuba, RN; Roslyn Hazell, RN; Barbara Ann Ritchwood, MSN, RN; Robert Dembicki, RN, nurse manager; Tracey Henson, RN; Holly Mackaly, MSN, RN, CCRN, nurse clinician; and Roger Tague, RN.

Englewood Hospital's Care Coordination Team

"Our team is truly cohesive. Our staff members are cross-trained and willing to assist co-workers whenever help is needed. This allows the team members to provide emotional support and counseling to patients and families during crisis situations. On many occasions team members stay late into the evening to provide support to patients and their families as well as colleagues. Staff routinely share their expertise and knowledge with each other and frequently consult each other on complex issues."

Nominated by Kathleen Walsh, MS, RN, CNA, vice president for clinical effectiveness, the care coordination department at Englewood (NJ) Hospital & Medical Center came in second in the ADVANCE Best Nursing Team contest.

The motto of "Our Patients First" is truly practiced by the team on a daily basis, wrote Walsh.

An example of this is a patient who wished to return to his native country of Turkey. Arrangements were made to coordinate transfer and flights from Englewood Hospital & Medical Center and medical follow up in Turkey. In fact, several of the team members went to the patient's home and packed his belongings. They even followed up with a call to ensure the patient had arrived safely.

One member of the team was successful in coordinating a discharge of a 1-month-old infant who required IV therapy. The parents wanted to take their child home instead of extending his hospital stay an additional 2 weeks. The parents were most grateful. The infant was the youngest Englewood patient discharged with home IV therapy.

Another "first" was when a case coordinator complied with a patient/family request for a ventilator dependent patient to have life support withdrawn in the comfort of her home instead of in the hospital. A team member arranged for the patient to return home on a respirator and to be extubated by her private physician at home. "We were happy to provide this patient with a dignified death in her own home despite the complex planning of such an unconventional discharge plan," Walsh wrote.

Care Coordination team mem.bers include: Bockmi Jung, Effie Moten, Mary Jane Dale, Mona Kahil, Felicia Villari, Dina Scalero, Ann Math, Patricia Lepore, Nikki Antoniades, Debbie Germinario, Betty Ann Cifu, Maureen Jaworski, Mary Peterkin, Sudeepa White, Lizzie Haggans, Maria Lourdes Soriano, Jennifer Poterbin, Mary Gifford, Tracy Materetsky, Maureen Fleming, Judy Kardell, Fay Zansberg, Lisa Rios, Annie Hartley, Treasa Stanley, Patricia Wunsch, Connie Abate and Kathleen Walsh, vice president of clinical effectiveness. Not pictured are: Mary Curran, coordinator, clinical effectiveness, care coordination department, Suzan Fisch-bein, Kelly Harney, Ahylzabeth Jimenez, Carol Lauria, Mindy Leonard and Kathy Muir-Quinn.

Perioperative Nurses at the Stone Center of New Jersey

The perioperative nurses at The Stone Center of New Jersey, Newark, keep their WITs about them as they work in one of the busiest lithotripsy facilities in North America. "Our staff de.veloped the motto 'whatever it takes' (WIT). We educate our staff to incorporate this motto in the care they deliver. It is easily identified through patient surveys that our staff goes beyond the 'call of duty,'" wrote Eneida Cruz, MA, RN, director of clinical operations, in her nomination.

For example, waiting after hours for a patient's significant other so the patient can be discharged; offering to get gas for a patient's car; walking patients to the car with an umbrella when it's raining; finding patients' cars in the parking deck; providing toys for patients' children and pediatric patients; and providing patients' significant others with food and drink.

The nurses also emphasize a team approach to their care. "It is not just talked about, it is part of our culture. This begins in orientation. The staff participates in the orientation process of new employees. The staff lays the groundwork for a smooth schedule. The staff works hand-in-hand for a seamless interaction of the team members to get the job done. No boundaries can exist. For instance, although each nurse may have a specific assignment, this does not preclude her from assisting another nurse in completing her assignment."

The team includes: Katie Cahill, RN; Cruz Ortiz, RN; Christine Siapco, RN; Andrea Cucci, RN; Tonia Boggs, NA; Cathy Williams; RN; Meg Oser, MA, RN; Marie Karten, RN; Anne Stephens, LPN; Joe Bolella, RN; Mary Beth Guilbert, MA, RN; and Eneida Cruz, MA, RN.

No Contest for Third

JFK Medical Center's CCU

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but the critical care nurses at JFK Medical Center have cornered the market on innovation. The team's initiatives in developing programs to better serve patients, the community and each other helped it earn third place in ADVANCE's Best Nursing Team contest.

Like the first place team from the Edison, NJ, facility, CCU nurses have earned their share of awards, kudos and thank you's from patients, families and fellow staff members.

"It is commonplace to compliment each other when one team member goes above and beyond," nurses wrote in their application. The team was nominated by nurse manager Judy McNulty, RN, CCRN, and Nelson C. Tuazon, MAEd, MSN, RN, CNAA, director of patient care services.

Nurses developed quiet time for patients. "This time is designed to promote rest and relaxation to the patients based on the concept of circadian rhythms and sundown syndrome," nurses wrote. "Lights are turned off, no routine tests are done and family members are requested to avoid or minimize visitation during these hours. Physicians and other disciplines are encouraged to avoid rounds at this time, too. Feedback from patients and families has been very positive. For 2002, a grant application to purchase CD players in each room is being pursued to implement relaxation modalities. A formal evaluation of this initiative will be conducted focusing on clinical outcomes."

CCU nurses also evaluated and re.scheduled visiting hours to accommodate more patients and their families. They also established family calling plans so family members would receive routine updates (at pre-determined and mutually agreed upon times) on their loved ones. The nurses also work with all members of the health care team on interdisciplinary rounds that have enhanced patient care.

Team members included: Patricia Guilfoyle, RN; Reshma Patel, PCT; Valerie Schlegel Esteves, case manager; Jerry Gillen, RN, ANCC; Judy McNulty, RN, CCRN; Janice Young, social worker; Lois Shea, registered dietician; Mary Ann Ventura, nursing unit secretary; Rachel Evason, RN; Irene Pavlonnis, RN; Alice Joseph, RN; Linda Maguas, RN; Wendy Blackman, RN; Fran Burns, RN; Ellen Strack, RN; Randy Esteban, CRT; Debby Didolce, RN; Geri Doyle, RN; Denise Edgworth, RN; Kareen Kurta, RN; Laurie Durkin, RN; Mercy Chukwueke, RN; Marie Selbeau, PCT; Brenda Burke; nursing unit secretary Dorjima Wilhelm, RN; and Nelson C. Tuazon, MAEd, MSN, RN, CNAA, director of patient care services.

Long Island Teams Tie for Fourth

Nassau University Medical Center's ED Nurses

"They are selfless individuals, dedicated to their profession and their chosen specialty within that profession. They maintain calm in chaos and remain fo.cused in fear. They offer consolation when in need of being consoled. ED nursing is a calling, to which fewer answer. It is emotionally draining and physically exhausting. These women and men have stood the test of time, and then some," wrote Susan Arnott, RN, patient care coordinator in the emergency department at Nassau University Medical Center, East Meadow, NY.

The judges of the 2001 Best Nursing Team agreed with Arnott and ranked the ED fourth in the contest.

The ED nursing team prides itself on the fact that their jobs don't end with the delivery of medical care. "We provide each of our patients with a little piece of ourselves, an extra minute of the time it takes to give directions to the elevator, offer reassurance or jot down the phone number, in case there is a question later.

"We also take the time to smile, and that goes a long way!"

Long Island Jewish Medical Center ACT Nurses

Fifth-Place Teams Demonstrate Flair

Med/Surg, Telemetry Unit at Long Beach Medical Center

"The entire team if very cohesive. All three shifts of RNs work well together," wrote Marguerite Pawlowski, MSN, RN, CCRN, ANP, nurse manager of the med/ surg, telemetry unit at Long Beach (NY) Medical Center. "If an admission is re.ceived toward the end of a shift, the next shift will complete the admission paperwork. If the previous shift anticipates light staffing or a heavy workload for the next shift (postops, transfusions, high rate of admission), they will stay to assist with the admissions.

The nurses on the med/surg, telemetry unit came in fifth in the ADVANCE for Nurses Best Nursing Team contest.

The unit mentors nursing students and actively works to improve the profession by letting high school students and others shadow them as they work. The nursing students work with the day-shift RNs and are given an opportunity to work with each RN throughout the semester. If a special procedure is being done (thoracentesis, paracentesis, chest tube, etc.), with the patient's permission, the students are invited to observe, even if it is not their patient. y

The General Hospital Center at Passaic's Critical Care Unit

"The General Hospital Center at Passaic (NJ) is a small hospital with a big heart," wrote Christina P. Fischer BSN, RN, manager of critical care and cardiac surgery unit. "When times are difficult this team pulls together and deals with issues based on priority. Our first priority is always the patient. That guides our decision-making at all levels. In this day and age where cost is prohibitive, it is necessary to be creative and work together. This team saves money by working 'smarter not harder.'"

The nurses on the critical care and cardiac surgery unit earned fifth place in the ADVANCE for Nurses Best Nursing Team contest.

Critical care demands teamwork, Fischer continued. "One example of how the team operates is the development of the cardiac surgery redesign committee. The team was brought together by the nursing department to define better ways to deliver the highest quality care with the best fiscal impact."

Members of the team included staff nurses, physicians, cardiac rehab, social work, case management, administration, education, home care, and pre-access units. Together this team developed a pathway to decrease length of stay, standardize practice patterns, decrease waste, improve the information relayed to the patient, and keep on the cutting-edge of cardiac care.


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