Spotlight On: 2009 Nursing Spectrum Excellence Award Nominees - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Spotlight On: 2009 Nursing Spectrum Excellence Award Nominees

Kathleen Deegan, RN, BSN

Kathy Deegan, RN, BSN, is a nurse with a very big heart who demonstrates the utmost commitment to excellence and patient advocacy on Crozer’s oncology unit and outpatient chemotherapy center. Deegan cares for her patients as if they were members of her own family. She always knows how to comfort both families and patients during the most trying times, and she is both an inspiration and a resource to her fellow nurses on the unit.

“As oncology nurses, we meet people at the worst time in their lives,” she says. “Even though all of our patients have cancer, it’s important to remember that they are individuals. I try to learn about each patient and find out what is important in that person’s life, what makes that person happy. Then I try to use that information to do something special that will bring the patient some comfort and joy in the midst of their pain.”

Recently, a patient on the oncology unit received devastating news regarding his condition. Deegan was not his primary nurse but, knowing her gift for comforting patients, a fellow staff member asked her to talk with the patient and his family to help them through this time. Deegan discovered that the patient really missed his dog. Within minutes, she obtained a doctor's order for the patient's dog to come to his bedside for a therapeutic visit. The patient and his dog lay together side by side all afternoon, which brought the patient a great sense of contentment and peace. Deegan took pictures, printed them out and placed them by the patient's bedside for comfort. The patient died shortly after the dog’s visit.

“It is a blessing and a great reward to be able to help someone at such a difficult time,” she says. “We all have a mission in life and this feels like my calling.”

Deegan has also dedicated her life to caring for special needs children. Before becoming a nurse, she was engaged in social work as director of residential services for developmentally disabled clients. Now she continues her commitment to those with special needs as the healthcare coordinator for autistic children at the Elwyn Institute.

In addition to the demands of her full time professional life, Deegan adopted a special needs baby who is now 15 years old, and she co-parents two other special needs children, ages 17 and 26. She is truly an inspiration to her coworkers and an exceptional nurse to her patients.

Kathy Lehman, RN

Kathy Lehman, RN, exemplifies the nursing mission with integrity, commitment and team spirit. In recent years, she managed Crozer’s Emergency Department through several physical plant changes into the current state-of-the-art 52-bed facility. In addition, she managed the transition of all ED records to electronic format within six months of moving to the new ED facility.

Two years ago, Lehman took on a new role as Crozer’s first Director of ER3 Outreach, working to bring injury prevention programs and education about Crozer’s ER3 capabilities to the community in every imaginable setting, including schools, churches, health fairs and town meetings. She is constantly researching the latest data to ensure that her outreach efforts are in line with national goals while focusing where the greatest numbers of injuries occur in the local community, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, and gunshot injuries. Prevention initiatives focus on child and bike safety, fall prevention, gun safety, and community violence.

Lehman has the ability to connect with patients, staff and community members on a personal level that inspires trust. She effectively brings diverse individuals and groups together to accomplish the mission at hand. She has developed strong relationships with local law enforcement agents and state healthcare agencies, and partners with other members of the CKHS Community Health Education Network. A true team player, she is the first to tell you that the support of Trauma, Burn, Pediatric, and EMS Management Staff has been key to the success of these collaborative community outreach efforts.

Since she first volunteered as a candy striper years ago at a 36-bed hospital in her home state of Maine, Lehman has wanted to be a nurse and has always loved the ED. “My work has never been work to me,” she says. “Nursing is a profession, not a job. Whether you are delivering care to a critically injured patient or engaged in injury prevention, the challenges and outcomes can be immensely rewarding!”

Kathryn Miller, RN, BSN

Kathy Miller, RN, BSN is a 30-year nursing veteran who demonstrates excellence in clinical practice and never ending compassion as a bedside nurse on Crozer’s Telemetry Unit. She serves as a peer role model with her "Golden Rule" approach to care delivery, always treating each patient as an individual while focusing on quality outcomes. You can frequently walk down the hallway and observe her at the patient's bedside explaining procedures, teaching post op care, listening to concerns, and comforting the patient and often the patient's family.

Miller’s ability to anticipate patient needs as well as the needs of her peers is striking. She helps patients and families navigate the healthcare maze with her exceptional communication skills and knowledge of system wide resources. She has collaborated with other members of the healthcare team to enhance the intermediate care of open heart surgery patients and acute coronary syndrome patients by incorporating best practice standards. Miller is passionate about patients' "right to know" and physicians will tell you that she is the "go to person" on her unit.

Viewed by her team members as a role model educator and leader, Miller was one of the early champions supporting Crozer-Keystone’s quest for Magnet™ designation. She has served as a Magnet Ambassador and a member of the Nurse Practice Council. She recently completed a two year term as chair of the Nursing Education Council where she was instrumental in rolling out a new safety measure program. On a unit level, she serves as a unit council member, preceptor and mentor. Her colleagues see her as a positive change agent who focuses on both patient and staff satisfaction through accountability, practice standards and performance improvement.

As a community volunteer, Miller is a member of the South Jersey Quilt Guild,which has sent quilts to nursing homes, soldiers, foster care children and Habitat for Humanity families. After Hurricane Katrina, she served as a medical representative on a Catholic Charities remediation team sent to New Orleans. Miller has also volunteered as a community nurse in an Alaskan health clinic located 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle. While her son was recently serving in Afghanistan, she organized efforts to send care packages to soldiers serving overseas as a member of the Blue Star Mothers of America.

Miller recently received the peer-selected "Excellence in Professional Nursing Practice" award as well as a Bertram Speare Spirit of Crozer Award. Every day, she makes a difference in the lives of both patients and staff through her passion for quality patient care.

Kathy Layton, MSN, RN-BC, BA

Kathy Layton, MSN, RN-BC, BA, remembers what it was like to be a new graduate nurse starting her first job at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in 1992. “I felt nervous and overwhelmed,” she recalls. Later, with a few years of experience under her belt and a lot more confidence, she became a preceptor to new nurses and found it to be the most rewarding part of her work. “It is so fulfilling to take a scared new graduate and, in 10 weeks, help him or her to become an independent and capable nurse,” she says.

So it was no surprise in 2002 when Layton left her position as a staff nurse on the 3 East unit to follow her love of education and become a nurse educator for the medical/surgical, oncology and rehabilitation units. Last year, Layton took on additional responsibility by filling in as nurse educator for the 5 East Orthopedic Surgery Unit. She worked closely with the staff for nearly a year, helping with orientation and preceptor arrangements for new hires, answering clinical questions, and offering computer tutoring when new programs were introduced.

“5 East is a great unit with an incredibly professional staff,” she says. “They wanted to maintain that level of professionalism and felt comfortable calling me for help. I tried to be there for them whenever they needed assistance, whether it was figuring out how to help an upset family member, providing advice about clinical practice or working out preceptor arrangements.”

Layton came to nursing after 10 years in the business world, which she found very unfulfilling. “I went to a career fair where they analyzed me for suitable careers,” she says. “Everything pointed to nursing.” A member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and Southeastern Pennsylvania Administrative Nurse Leaders, Layton received her master’s degree in nursing from Widener University in 2007, and plans to pursue post-master’s certification in nursing education this fall.

Dottie Loving, RN

Eleven years ago, Dottie Loving, RN, recognized that nurses could play an important role in the health of the community by serving local church congregations. After completing a health ministry training program, she proposed that Delaware County Memorial Hospital begin a parish nursing program.

“Through my own church, I could see that a lot of healthcare needs were not being met in the community,” says Loving, a 27-year veteran of DCMH. “It was important to me to keep people from falling through the cracks of the healthcare system, especially seniors who often have a hard time navigating it.”

DCMH approved her proposal and Loving was appointed coordinator of the grant-funded program, a position she still holds in addition to her primary role as clinical nurse leader of the SurgiCenter at DCMH. Under Loving’s leadership, the parish nursing program has grown to include 10 churches and 20 parish nurses in Delaware County. Most of the nurses volunteer their time to provide services that may include monthly blood pressure monitoring, annual health fairs, home visits to ailing parishioners, cooking for new mothers, and arranging presentations by Crozer-Keystone health professionals on topics such as smoking cessation and diabetes.

“We also provide one-on-one assistance to those who ask us,” says Loving, who was instrumental in bringing a course on parish nursing to Neumann College “It’s rewarding to help people who otherwise might not get the help they need.”

Bonita Ball, RN, BSN

As a staff nurse in Taylor Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, Bonita Ball, RN, BSN, cares for patients in life or death situations. She sees them at their most vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. In addition to critical health concerns, these patients are often worried about family issues and financial hardships. Six months ago, Ball joined Taylor’s Interfaith Disciplinary Service, a group of local clergy and hospital staff members who meet weekly to pray for patients.

“Every week, we take prayer request from patients about any concerns they have,” explains Ball, who is also a member of Taylor’s Ethics Committee. “As a critical care nurse, I know patients have worries even if they don’t write them down, so if I’m concerned about a particular patient, or even a staff member, I’ll present those concerns myself and ask the group to pray for that person.”

Out in the community, Ball has tried to prevent people from becoming patients as a volunteer with the American Heart Association (AHA) for more than 15 years. Inspired by her father who died prematurely of heart disease, she finds great reward in providing education about the prevention and treatment of heart disease. She recently completed her tenure as national chairperson of the AHA’s Women and Minorities Leadership Committee.

“One highlight of my tenure was having the opportunity to meet several times with the late Yolanda King, eldest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which was truly inspiring,” says Ball. “The other highlight was going to Capital Hill to speak before the Congressional Black Caucus on heart disease. It was truly a privilege to represent the AHA in this way.”

Ball has also served as a member of the AHA’s National Stroke Council as well as the organization’s Pennsylvania/Delaware Affiliate Board of Directors.

Locally, Ball will soon begin serving on the Chester Youth Aid Panel, part of an alternative punishment program for juveniles who commit minor first offenses. Under the program, juvenile offenders must complete recommendations made by the panel to get them back on track. In exchange, the juvenile court drops formal charges filed against them. Previously, Ball volunteered for a prison ministry.

After recently establishing an anger management consulting firm, Ball began providing counseling to court appointed clients in Chester. She also provides anger management classes as a volunteer in the community. “I love outreach,” says Ball who is currently working toward her master’s degree in nursing. “It’s rewarding to help people in the community by promoting good health and anti-violence efforts. I believe that our efforts to address healthcare and individual concerns today can shape a healthy generation for tomorrow.”

Annie Chang, RN

Whenever you see Annie Chang, RN, you can always count on her cheery smile. She brightens every day for her patients and co-workers on Taylor’s Short Procedure Unit. “Annie has a special quality that enables her patients to remain calm during treatment,” say Max Santiago, PhD, RN, Director, Surgical Services, Ambulatory Services and SPU. “She is kind and patient and her patients love her.”

A 28-year veteran of Taylor Hospital, Chang followed her sister into the nursing profession. “I always admired the work she was doing as a nurse, and I enjoy the challenge,” says Chang. “In the Short Procedure Unit, we face new and different challenges every day.”

Previously, as a nurse on Taylor’s Intensive Care Unit for 10 years, Chang took pride in helping critically ill patients recover. “It was always a great reward when patients improved enough to move to a step down unit or med/surg. floor,” she relates.

When praised for her superlative nursing skills, she is quick to point out the importance of team work. “In nursing, everyone helps each other,” says Chang, who is certified in chemotherapy infusion. “I try to help my co-workers whenever they need assistance.”

“Annie is a model of nursing excellence,” says Santiago. “We are privileged to have her as a member of our SPU staff.”

Debra Ruddy, RN, BSN

Debra Ruddy, RN, BSN, is an inspirational leader who is extraordinarily committed to her staff and patients on the 2E Medical/Oncology unit at Taylor Hospital. During the past year, she successfully led her staff through the merger of a 15-bed medical/surgical unit and a 17-bed oncology unit, complete with cross training of staff. Ruddy is a team player who credits her achievements to her “great staff.” She always has time to listen to their concerns and is proud that they feel comfortable about confiding in her.

A self-described “nursing geek,” Ruddy has a true passion for nursing and cares deeply about her patients and their families. She establishes deep, caring relationships with oncology patients, which is especially comforting to those who must return to the hospital for care. A member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Ruddy also volunteers with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a facilitator for cancer patient support groups.

Ruddy currently serves as chair of Taylor’s Inpatient Satisfaction Committee. This year, she also helped to organize the First Annual Crozer-Keystone Pain Symposium which received excellent peer reviews.

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in nursing administration, Ruddy is a Magnet champion who inspires and empowers her staff and advocates for shared governance. “I believe in giving as much as I can to the nursing profession and encourage my staff to do the same,” she says. “Magnet represents nursing at its best, and I’m proud to be part of a health system that is striving for this designation.”