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TONL Heroes
2020 is the Year of the Nurse and in the midst of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, TONL is proud to recognize the heroes making a difference in our organizations. These heroes demonstrate selfless dedication and commitment to their profession in the most difficult of circumstances.

Thank you to all of our TONL Heroes!

Recent Heroes

Maju Joshy – Registered Nurse, HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast (May 25, 2020)
HCA Houston Healthcare Southeast Intermediate Care Unit Nurse, Maju Joshy RN, was assigned to a patient that had been admitted to the Intermediate Care Unit (IMCU) for over 2 weeks. The patient explained to Maju that she was from Oklahoma and came to Houston as her Mother’s health was declining. The day after her Mother died, she became ill herself and was admitted to IMCUWith the restriction of visitors, she was feeling very lonely and sad. Her husband, who she has never been apart from, would come to the hospital and park in the parking lot from sun up to sun down, just so he could be near her. Maju coordinated with her leadership team and security to provide the patient an opportunity to see her husband and family through glass doors. The patient was overwhelmed with comfort and joy. -Emily Weber
Quote from Maju about the experience, "Pt. was suffering a lot due to her illness.. but her emotional pain was more intense thinking about her loved one... they were together for a lifetime, separated unexpectedly and were away from their home .. not sure about what will happen next. For me she was an ordinary patient with familiar health problems. But for her she was not sure whether she will meet her husband again after a high risk procedure.. I tried to give a little hope and peace to that loving couple..not as a nurse , as a human .Every person we meet in a hospital gown has an untold story which sometimes we fail to notice."
Ron Estrella, Executive Director of Patient Care Services, University Health System (May 20, 2020)
Janet Olsen Janet Olsen – RN, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan (May 12, 2020)
Janet may not be a Texan (she is a transplant from Michigan) but she is at home at Metropolitan!! Janet’s extensive nursing background made her a perfect choice to help lead the discharge lounge. Janet was an LVN for 21 years before she completed her ADN in 2011. She is now enrolled to complete her BSN in 2021. Her quick smile and charming disposition puts patients and colleagues at ease. Janet’s ability to make small adjustments during a patient’s discharge process often leads to big improvements in efficiency. When asked to help with an initiative to improve our line compliance, Janet fully owned the process. With Janet’s attention to detail, she helped coach the nurses and improve patient care. -Mary Lee Potter
Alix Wilson Alix Wilson – RN, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan (May 12, 2020)
Alix first completed a biochemistry degree in 2014. She soon realized she wanted a career that allowed her to be on the front-line helping others. Alix then went on and completed her BSN in 2017 and joined Metropolitan’s ED soon after. Alix is dedicated to her patients and her team. She serves as a preceptor and is the chair for Metropolitan’s Professional Practice Council. She leads by example and is always ready to encourage and support nursing initiatives. In fact Alix was recognized in the ED for the best time to TPA administration for a patient experiencing signs/symptoms of a stroke. Alix’s quick recognition of events contributed to the patient making a full recovery. -Mary Lee Potter
Rus (James) Miller Rus (James) Miller – RN, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan (May 12, 2020)
Rus joined Metropolitan’s ICU after serving in the U.S. Army. He was one of the first nurses to care for the COVID patients. He really connected with his first COVID patient although she was intubated. Knowing she needed that personal connection, he stayed a few extra minutes in the room to hold her hand and talk with her. His presence made her smile – even around the vent tube. In fact, at the end of the shift she blew him a kiss! Rus’ calm demeanor and servant’s heart not only brought peace to his patients but to his team members as well.
Leah Bennett Leah Bennett – RN, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan (May 12, 2020)
Leah is a relatively new nurse and new to the ICU. However do not be misled by Leah’s short tenure – she is a powerhouse! Leah knew the risks of caring for the COVID patients yet she volunteered. Natural leaders like Leah step up even in an environment of uncertainty. Leah admits questioning herself – yet in questioning she provided stellar care to her patients. Leah took the time to learn about the patients even though they were often sedated and could not speak. She played music she thought they liked while she provided care. In fact upon awakening one patient asked for a particular artist/song that she had been thinking about!! She had not known that Leah was her secret DJ. It may be a little act of kindness but it was a big moment of comfort for the patient. -Mary Lee Potter
Mallory Meehan Mallory Meehan – RN, Methodist Hospital | Metropolitan (May 12, 2020)
Mallory’s intense passion for her patients is easily recognized within minutes after meeting her. Nursing is not Mallory’s first career but it is clearly where she is meant to be! Mallory earned a BA in Psychology in 2009, a MS in Recreation and Leisure Services in 2011 and her BSN in 2014. Mallory invested her time and energy in helping the COVID patients. She worked diligently to ensure the best care was delivered – from medications, ventilator management, and repositioning including proning the patients. Mallory readily admits that caring for the patient extended beyond the walls of the hospital and included supporting the families. She spent a considerable amount of time speaking with the families, providing them updates, and giving them hope. -Mary Lee Potter
Krystal Patrick – Registered Nurse, Metropolitan Methodist Hospital (May 8, 2020) - Med-Renal Nurse’s Week Hero
What is a hero? The Oxford dictionary defines a hero as, “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” In healthcare we have plenty of “heroes” that fit this definition of courage, nobility and achievement. They are the ones celebrated by their peers with a showering of trust and gratitude for what they do and who they are every day. They are the ones you can count on; the ones you ask first; the ones who don’t stop until they get it right; the ones who will gladly step out of their comfort zone when called to. Each of us as medical professionals know who these heroes are on our units and throughout the hospital and today I would like to shine a light on Med-Renal’s “hero”.

Krystal Patrick started with us as a nursing resident in December of 2017. She quickly acclimated to our busy floor and was frequently recognized for her critical thinking. She grew to become a resource and role model for her peers and is now serving as a charge nurse for our unit. Krystal fits our definition of a “unit hero” in many ways, however, I would like to highlight a particular day in 2019 when Krystal wore a super hero cape…

Arriving to her shift that morning, Krystal was notified she would be “floating” to the Mother-Baby unit as helping hands. This alone can cause a lot of anxiety to a medical nurse; we just don’t know babies! Yet, Krystal happily complied and went on her way. She returned to the unit later that day and shared her story. After getting started on the Mother-Baby unit she noticed a young man leaving one of the rooms, stating something like “I’m outta here”. Nothing unusual at all, but then she noticed the baby in the bassinet. The baby was by himself. Krystal spoke with the nurse who informed her that the mom was recovering from emergency surgery and the baby was not well. The nurse told Krystal that the parents had elected to make him a DNR and the father was staying with him while he passes. Krystal jumped right into action after telling the nurse about the young man leaving the room. She wrapped the little baby boy in a blanket and lifted him from the bassinet. She cradled him in her arms and spoke to him while she rocked him back and forth in the rocking chair in the room. She rocked and rocked; watching his tiny vessels and heart beat through his translucent skin, she marked every breath he took with a moment of mercy for him. She held him this way and she spoke to him this way for hours. She did so until his last tiny breath left him.

Krystal’s courage and nobility that day impressed upon all of us that our humanity is first and foremost. What she did that day can’t be taught or defined in a job description. What she did came from her heart and her compassion for the life of a tiny little person; a little person that felt warmth, comfort and love in his last moments. We are honored to call Krystal Patrick Med-Renal’s “hero”! -Emily Smudy
Jenny Earls Jenny Earls – Director of Clinical Operations, Medical City Alliance (May 6, 2020)
Jenny Earls, MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, Director of Clinical Operations at Medical City Alliance, is worthy of being recognized for her leadership role in the command center in the fight of COVID-19. Her leadership was instrumental from a clinical and operational perspective in implementation of new practices and processes as it relates to COVID-19. She played a key role in ensuring fluid and consistent communication to the leaders and staff members. Her leadership and knowledge assisted in implementation of clinical process improvements to ensure that both the staff and patients were safe. Her leadership played an integral part in personal protective equipment (PPE) reallocation, conservation, and utilization at our facility. She has also been instrumental in ensuring that patient’s family are well-informed and with the appropriate communication about their loved one who they are isolated from. Through her leadership and collaboration with other key individuals, our facility has established a strong process to ensure that every staff, physician, and patient remain safe during this challenging times. Proud to have her on our team. -Julie Brown
Vanessa Smith Vanessa Smith – ICU Clinical Supervisor, Medical City Alliance (May 6, 2020)
Vanessa Smith, BSN, RN, ICU Clinical Supervisor at Medical City Alliance, deserves recognition for her compassion and dedication to her team and patients during this challenging time. Her leadership on the patient units has assisted in easing the anxiety of the staff and patients. She implemented our HERO awards to recognize nurses that go above and beyond the call of duty to care for our patients. She was instrumental in networking with our community in obtaining community support in recognizing our staff. Her compassion for nursing and patients are indeed recognized. I am very proud of her leadership. -Jenny Earls
Diane Richey Diane Richey – Administration - Quality Services, Medical City Alliance (May 5, 2020)
Diane Richey, RN, BSN, CCM, CPHQ, Administration - Quality Services at Medical City Alliance, deserves to be recognized for her role as the leader of the quality department. Her expertise, years of experience, and experience in past healthcare have been a great asset in this very challenging. She has been very instrumental in ensuring that all policies and procedures implemented clinically and operationally were appropriate and efficient. -Jenny Earls
Dean Miller Dean Miller – Chief Nursing Officier, Medical City Alliance (May 5, 2020)
Dean Miller, MBA, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officier at Medical City Alliance, deserves to be recognized for his impact and role in the fight against COVID-19. His leadership has been instrumental in the clinical and logistics of the provision of care and personal protective equipment (PPE) at our facility. He has executive oversight on safe staffing, PPE Czar, and clinical operations. He has also made himself available to staff by frequently rounding during the day, off-hours, and weekends to ensure that they are fully informed about all processes that have been implemented. He has also been influential in that every staff has all the tools and information for self-care. With collaboration with the chaplain, he implanted a chaplain call that allows for staff to request prayer for themselves, their patient, their family, or anyone that requires prayers and spiritual support. He has been outstanding and very supportive of all staff, physicians, and patients. We are blessed to have him as our leader in this very challenging time. -Jenny Earls
Consuello Linwood Consuello Linwood – Nurse Manager of Medical-Surgical Services and Stroke Program Coordinator, Medical City Alliance (May 5, 2020)
Connie Linwood, MHA, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager of Medical-Surgical Services and Stroke Program Coordinator at Medical City Alliance, deserves recognition in taking charge of ensuring that all her staff was well informed about the fluid and constant changes with the pandemic. She was diligent in assuring that all questions were answers and all anxiety eased. She goes above and beyond, ensuring that all patients were informed about their plan of care and in communication with their loved ones. She went above and beyond talking to the patient’s family via FaceTime to ensure that they understood every care plan. Her compassion and her herat for patients and staff are much needed in this time and indeed recognized. I am very proud to have her on our team. -Jenny Earls
Jimmie Kinney Jimmie Kinney – Director of Clinical Informatics, Medical City Alliance (May 5, 2020)
Jimmie Kinney, DNP, RN, RNC-LRN, Director of Clinical Informatics at Medical City Alliance, deserves to be recognized for her dedication and commitment during this challenging time. Her leadership has been instrumental in the implementation process of personal protective equipment (PPE) allocation and conservation tactics. She ensures that all staff members have the appropriate PPE to protect themselves and patients. She is also instrumental in the education of staff about the new charting and documentation processes that were implemented for this specific patient population. I am proud to have her as part of our team. -Jenny Earls
Jenny Thornton Jenny Thornton – Director Infection Prevention, Medical City Alliance (May 5, 2020)
Jenny Thornton, MSN, RN, CIC, WCC, OMS, Director of Infection Prevention at Medical City Alliance, deserves to be recognized for her dedication and commitment during this challenging time. She is part of the command center at the facility. Her leadership and expertise in the infection control space have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19. Her availability and transparency with staff, physicians, and patients have assisted in reducing anxiety. She ensures that the staff and physicians are well informed about the personal protective equipment (PPE) and validates proper usage. I am proud to have her as part of our team. -Jenny Earls
Deborah Cates Deborah Cates – Director - Women and Children's Services, Medical City Lewisville (May 5, 2020)
Deborah Cates, BSN, MBA, RNC-OB, Director of Women and Children’s Services at Medical City Lewisville, recent DFW Great 100 Nurse, and HCA Frist Humanitarian Award winner, has had quite a year, both professionally and personally. With 30+ years of nursing experience and leadership, she has been instrumental in preparing the women and children’s space for COVID-19 positive moms and babies. However, it’s her personal life that has been affected most by COVID-19. As a mom and advocate of a person with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD), she’s living through the isolation and loneliness experienced by her son, Michael, a resident of a Texas State Supported Living Center (TSSC). Their pre-COVID life was filled with daily calls, weekend home visits, and drop-ins. As of March, life has drastically changed for Deborah and Michael. March 9th was the last day she saw Michael; it was a normal Monday following his last home visit. On March 13th, the TSSC went on lockdown, resulting in zero home visits, campus visits, and confinement to Michael’s campus apartment with residents no longer allowed to visit the canteen, workshop, dance hall, or chapel as was Michael’s routine. Luckily, Michael is somewhat tech savvy so the two share frequent FaceTime contact. Currently, this is their only form of communication until the visitation restrictions are lifted by Governor Abbott.

In Deborah’s own words “we think of heroes in the hospital but the real heroes are the employees within the State Supported Living Centers who work with a population unable to understand social distancing.” At a time when families and residents feel hopeless, Deborah is going above and beyond to bringing hope to Michael, his housemates, and staff. Currently Deborah donates food and paper goods to the Food Pantry benefiting TSSC employees and run by a volunteer council. The TSSC employees work 16hr shifts and really appreciate items provided by the Food Pantry. Deborah also serves on the Board of the Family Association and keeps communication lines open to families.

The old adage, the way to someone’s heart is through the stomach, has never been truer for Deborah! She feeds, and feeds, and feeds not only Michael but also his housemates and the TSSC staff. Michael’s favorite food is from Chick-fil-A so every Wednesday, for the last five weeks, Deborah has purchased Chick-fil-A 8-piece nuggets, waffle fries, fruit, and chocolate chip cookie for Michael, his housemates, and the staff. Two weeks ago, Deborah reached out to the Chick-fil-A at the Denton Town Crossing and they offered to donate Chick-fil-A meals for the following two weeks. This location also said they would come up with a future plan to assist Deborah with these wonderful Wednesday treats. On Easter Sunday, Deborah provided a Cracker Barrel lunch for Michael, his housemates, and the staff. She also provided Easter baskets to make the holiday seem more normal. One Saturday she organized a pizza party, and although two major pizza chains refused delivery to the TSSC (a violation of ADA), Marco’s Pizza made the delivery. Deborah also has a friend who caters Marble Slab ice cream and provides Sundaes on Sunday for Michael, his housemates, and the staff. They love to make their own ice cream Sundaes!

Additional accomplishments prior to COVID-19:

In June 2019, Deborah visited every Texas US Congressional Representative and both Texas US Senators in Washington DC to provide education and garner support on current legislation which affects this population. Because of her advocacy work, she was selected, along with 34 others out of 240 applicants, to be a part of the Texas Partners in Policymaking 2019-2020 Class which is an advance leadership development program for self-advocates and parents/families of persons with developmental disabilities. Deborah will graduate in May.

Also in 2019, Deborah’s leadership capabilities resulted in our hospital, the first in our county, to receive an official NICU designation from the state of Texas, the highest level of neonatal care available for critically ill newborns of all gestation ages. This is significant because a Level III NICU designation is the second-to-highest level of neonatal care her team can provide for optimal healing and treatment for critically ill newborns.

These days you will find Deborah in scrubs with full PPE as she assists with COVID-19 swabbing for 100% of Mother/Baby admissions. Deb is a loved and admired hands-on servant leader!

Gina Harrison, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Magnet Director
Karen Gnepper Karen Gnepper – Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Medical City Lewisville (May 4, 2020)
Earlier this year, now considered the pre-COVID era, work life was pretty routine for our Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Karen Gnepper, BSN, RN, CIC. Her early 1st QTR workday consisted of infectious surveillance and working on processes to prevent infections. Fast forward to early March 2020, and “Nurse Karen” became front and center with an unrecognizable calendar filled with 16 hour COVID command center meetings, countless computer web-exes, and endless phone calls to and from local and state health authorities. March was definitely difficult – but not defeating, thanks to our courageous, confident IP hero!

Right away, Karen worked with executive leaders to set up an on-site central command center. Karen literally sat at the head of the table with the executive team during the early days of central command. Karen offered infection prevention guidance based on the latest CDC guidelines. Karen kept lines of communication open between the hospital’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Sujatha Krishnan, and the system’s Division Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Miguel Benet, as well as county and state epidemiologists. Karen acted as a resource to the North Texas Division Command Center and was called upon for guidance and advice from Division leaders. Karen’s primary role consisted of planning and preparing for an anticipated influx of COVID positive patients with early models suggesting an unprecedented number of COVID admissions to our ED and ICU. Karen worked closely with all department leaders to put plans in place for cohorting COVID presumptive and positive patients while simultaneously ensuring our staff was provided and protected by the appropriate PPE. From March through April, Karen and/or a designated team member were contacted 24/7 to approve every COVID test ordered by a doctor. Karen worked closely with laboratory leaders to coordinate the collection and result of every COVID test.

Now that the initial COVID crisis has lessened, Karen’s present IP life consists of rounding on all units to ensure staff are following proper PPE and hand hygiene requirements, monitoring central lines and indwelling catheters, and staying ever vigilant in the daily management of actual and potential COVID cases. Karen is our SHERO and MCL is forever grateful and thankful for her servant leadership!

Gina Harrison, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Magnet Director
A remarkable leader perfectly positioned for such a time as this.
Jessica Tully Jessica Tully – Director of Medical-Surgical Services, Midland Memorial Hospital (May 4, 2020)
Dr. Jessica Tully is our Director of Medical -Surgical Division at Midland Memorial Hospital. Jessica’s division encompasses most of our facility, including the Med-Surg COVID unit. During this pandemic, Jessica has been a great role model for adaptability, positivity, and courage. Jessica handles staffing a large COVID unit with the needs of the rest of the facility and moving locations as we have mobilized more and more areas dedicated to MS COVID patients. Our entire 8th floor is now dedicated to 42 COVID beds with more planned to open if needed. Jessica has been an amazing resource for her staff and helps ease their concerns with her frequent rounding and checking to make sure they have everything they need. Thank you, Jessica, for making a difference in our organization. -Kit Bredimus
Chris Bejil Chris Bejil – Director of Surgical Services, Midland Memorial Hospital (May 4, 2020)
Chris Bejil is the Director of Surgical Services at Midland Memorial Hospital. Chris and his team were a majority of our labor pool operations when surgery schedules were almost completely cancelled due to COIVD. Not missing a beat, Chris and his team mobilized a team to support other clinical areas and hospital operations. Most notably during this time, Chris and his team began making masks for hospital staff and visitors. The operation, coined as “Chris’s Sweat Shop”, produced over 10,000 masks for MMH’s employees, patients, and visitors. -Kit Bredimus
Michael Hall Michael Hall – Director of Centers for Advancing Professional Excellence, Midland Memorial Hospital (May 4, 2020)
Dr. Michael Hall is the Director of our Centers for Advancing Professional Excellence (CAPE) at Midland Memorial Hospital. Since the onset of COVID preparations, Michael and his team of educators and residents have been the backbone of our clinical support. Michael helped to mobilize a labor pool, including training and scope validation before sending employees to help in highly technical areas. Michael also helped coordinate and manage a labor pool supervisor schedule, PPE distribution, PPE Donation site pick up/drop off, Entrance Management, and so much more. Michael is amazing at identifying a need, coming up with a plan, and executing with support from his team. -Kit Bredimus
Terry Ngaru – Director, Main 4 (Medical-Surgical Unit), Houston Methodist Hospital - Texas Medical Center (May 2, 2020) - Showing Leadership Excellence, Compassion and Resilience in a Med-Surg Unit During the COVID Pandemic
Dr Terry Ngaru is the well-loved and strong Director of Main 4 in Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center. A leader for many years, she was promoted as Director in Main 4 in the year 2018.

Known for her vision and being always true and loyal to the Houston Methodist Mission, Vision and ICARE (Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Responsibility and Excellence) Values, she has always stayed at the forefront of any challenge and rallied the entire team to face the most recent pandemic crisis of Covid-19.

She was one of the first leaders of the hospital who took on the challenge of taking the PUIs (Persons Under Investigation) in her unit. The purpose was to have a dedicated unit that will receive all patients that are being tested and when cleared, be transferred to the appropriate med-surg unit. The idea was to concentrate the staff training, support, resources and PPE supplies to one unit.

While the idea was expected to bring anxiety to her own staff, it was because of her positive and charismatic leadership that made the staff accept the idea immediately from the beginning and proudly carried on for the next 10 weeks. By April 27, the unit had transitioned back to being a Renal-Endocrinology Unit and adjusting recently to the “new normal”.

During our so-called Covid time (the period when we were caring for PUIs), she had tapped on the resources of the organization - supply leaders, education staff, infection control experts, other med-surg units – and made the staff feel that they have all the support from every department of the hospital. She made sure that facts are promoted, not fear. She showed understanding and care to all staff who expressed their worries and fears. She became an active listener, motivator, adviser, prayer warrior, and friend. Each staff was shown compassion, their feelings accepted and their concerns were never dismissed. She maintained poise under extreme pressure and never at any point lost composure or had shown anger, frustration nor anxiety.

She continued to round on the patients, assured them of the care and compassion that Houston Methodist is known for. She never hesitated to go into each of the patient’s rooms to be let them know that she (the unit leader) is present and available for them. A staff commented, “The leaders never stayed in their office but held both the patient’s and staff’s hand through this storm”. She shined as a visible servant leader for all and remained positive and steadfast in faith.

Despite working long hours (and even weekends) in the hospital, she still dedicated time for her Church endeavors. She volunteered to do daily calls to about 10 church members to check on them and see if she could help with their needs. She still is an active and valued member of her church, The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.

As the night manager of Main 4, I am deeply honored to work with our very resilient leader, Dr Terry. It is for the above reasons that I would like to recognize her as a true modern-day hero. -Nila Milanco
Janet Olsen Janet Olsen – Registered Nurse, Methodist Metropolitan Hospital (April 30, 2020)
Janet routinely demonstrates exemplary service. While doing the direct duties of her department with efficiency & excellence. Janet's contribution to patient education/discharge instructions improves patient outcomes, raises quality & boosts patient/family satisfaction. Janet welcomes new staff to our organization in a generous & genuine way. She is a coach & guide to nursing newcomers, and a solid support for experienced veteran nurses. When new processes or challenges emerge, Janet is a spearhead, she's always first to volunteer without hesitation. She contributes not only to her department, facility, system, but most notably to the profession of nursing. -William Hayes
girl cutting fabric with scissors woman showing gift bags Christi Nguyen – Med Surg Executive Director JPS Hospital, JPS Health Network (April 30, 2020)
Dr. Christi Nguyen, Med-Surg Director of JPS Hospital and President-Elect of NCONL, engineered a Community Face Mask Project – designing and sewing over 1000 masks in less than three weeks. Completing the project required a partnership with her family and Christi’s time sewing 3-5 hours each day after working at her hospital, as well as all available time on the weekends. Masks were created to meet needs of the wearer - creating custom mask for nurses, fun masks for children and mask for the general population. Distribution was deep and wide including two hospitals, a skilled nursing facility, and a therapy center. Masks were given to health caretwo women in face masks smiling workers, patients and visitors. Masks were donated to a Boys and Girls Club for a Fundraiser. Masks were mailed to people in California, NY and Germany, to individuals at COVID risk and immunosuppressed. A retired school employee, who is a recent breast cancer survivor, was extremely thankful to receive a few masks in the mail. Gratitude for the Nguyen family service project is abundant and has flowed from many directions.
Dr. Nguyen has used her skills as a leader, manager, seamstress and her passion as a nurse to help people and support health and wellness within her community and literally extending the help across the world. -Cynthia Plonien
Carol Porter Carol Porter – Senior Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer (DNP, RN, FAAN), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (April 28, 2020)
It is both an honor and privilege to nominate MD Anderson’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Carol Porter, as a true hero of our organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a veteran nursing leader – who has helped hospitals navigate numerous emergencies throughout her career, including the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, the response to Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, and the response to Hurricane Harvey in Houston – she has consistently demonstrated her unwavering commitment to patients, colleagues, and the community of nursing. As an employer of more than 22,000 employees, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is an academic facility focused exclusively on the care and management of patients dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The needs of our uniquely vulnerable immunocompromised patients have driven our focus from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Dr. Porter has been a voice of strength and direction as we rapidly moved forward to respond the challenging circumstances.

Throughout our COVID-19 response, Dr. Porter has spearheaded efforts to:
  • Develop a COVID-19 Response Team, including more than 120 nurses, to respond to care needs of COVID-19 positive inpatients.
  • Collaborate across the institution to redesign and prepare specific floors of the hospital for COVID-19 care, and ensure that patients and equipment were safely and smoothly transported to those areas.
  • Establish a COVID-19 Swab Team to ensure efficiency of screening, ordering, collecting and transporting patient nasopharyngeal swab testing, which minimizes exposure and use of PPE.
  • Open an Emergency Center triage pod to provide additional space in the event the hospital receives a surge of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Adapt hospital discharge teaching methods to accommodate new no-visitor policies.
  • Coordinate PPE training, in conjunction with EHS and Infection Control, allowing nurse educators to provide PPE training around-the-clock to more than 1,110 people in the past seven weeks.
  • Facilitate ICU cross-training for OR and PACU nurses who have prior ICU experience, to prepare for an increased number of COVID-19 patients.

Additionally, Dr. Porter has prioritized communication and keeping our nursing workforce informed throughout the response. She holds twice-monthly “Leading from the Frontlines” webinars to address nurses’ needs, listen to their concerns, and discuss ways to provide them with additional support.

Dr. Porter has provided guidance when we struggled, has moved us forward when we hesitated, and has addressed our concerns as issues became apparent. She remains dedicated to our patients, our providers, and the community of 4,000 professional nurses she represents. I cannot imagine another colleague more deserving of this recognition. Dr. Porter is a nurse for all nurses who seeks every day to make the world a better place for our patients – a place where there is collaboration instead of silos, a place where thoughtful discussion of difficult issues allows change to happen, and a place where concern for the welfare of all underscores each action she takes. Her vision places our patients at the core of our efforts and considers every team member to be pivotal to that focus. She is an exceptional nursing hero who has freely given herself, her time, and her efforts.

Thank you for considering her nomination and the opportunity to be part of the process.
In addition to all of her contributions throughout MD Anderson’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Porter has also facilitated opportunities for nurses and teams throughout the institution to lead and manage crucial parts of the response. Dr. Porter embodies the true spirit of professional mentorship, and even during this challenging situation, she has prioritized helping others to develop new skills, to lead, and to grow.

-Luisa “Dee” Gallardo, executive director of Quality, Safety and Research for Nursing
Brandi McDonald Brandi McDonald – Director of Clinical Operations and Critical Care, Midland Memorial Hospital (April 28, 2020)
Dr. Brandi McDonald has been a cornerstone of our organization's COVID-19 response. Brandi has helped establish and run our first COVID ICU unit and staffing it with healthcare professionals who have a maintained a positive attitude under her leadership. Brandi also increased our capacity with our 68Nurse telephone nurse program to take on the regions call volumes related to COVID testing, screening, and questions. This was a monumental undertaking in staffing up the program, training, and putting processes in place to handle the testing of our entire community. -Kit Bredimus
Brandi has been a stabilizing force to her staff in these unprecedented times and her leadership is evident in everything she does. Our staff and our community are incredibly fortunate to have Brandi.
Sara Huerta Sara Huerta – BSN, RN, CCRN, CVRN, HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center (April 28, 2020)
Sara has gone above and beyond in her resiliency, bravery, team work and patient advocacy for our COVID and our non-COVID patients. -Puneet Freibott
When the first case of covid-19 popped up in the Houston area, I immediately thought of my mom. She’s a stage four lung cancer patient who at the time was going through another round of radiation. After listening to the intensivist in the ICU talk about the situation, I knew the spread was inevitable. It terrified me. I also knew that one day soon, I was going to be taking care of covid patients. As soon as I took care of my first PUI, I knew I couldn’t see my mom or younger siblings anymore. It wasn’t easy telling her and I could feel the anxiety rising between the both of us, but we knew it was the best thing for her safety.

At work I could feel the hesitancy of some nurses to take care of PUIs or patients who tested positive as these nurses had children and families waiting at home. I couldn’t blame them though. I completely understood the anxiety they were feeling so it never bothered me taking these patients over these nurses. My home situation was different. At home it’s just my significant other and I with our two dogs. We both work in the medical center area, him at Houston Methodist in the emergency department and me at HCA in the ICU. It definitely helped having someone at home to share the anxiety with. As we talked about our experiences with each other, we felt grateful that we were able to be separate from our families so they could remain safe and knew we should step up to care for covid patients.

My family also became increasingly worried about my safety. Regardless of how the mask made me feel, I continued to wear it as I took care of positive patients and in time the mask actually made me feel safe and powerful. I’ve been a nurse for just under three years and in the ICU for only a few months. No experience, no books, no care plans could’ve prepared any of us for this pandemic. The consistently changing policies, the feeling of hopelessness watching patients fight for their lives on their own, it all tested us mentally and emotionally. But I’m so grateful to be a nurse and to be part of such an amazing and supportive team. My management and administration stood by me in my care for these patients and I will be forever thankful. This has been an experience that has shaped me as a nurse, as a young woman, and most importantly as a patient advocate.
Kristin Taylor – Director of Critical Care Services, CHI St.Luke's The Woodlands (April 27, 2020)
“Nursing Was My Back-Up Plan”

Kristen Denman Taylor MSN, RN, CCRN-K is the Director of Critical Care at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital. She received her Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M and her Bachelors and Masters of Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center. She juggles work and home (two girls and a boy) life with calendar like precision. When I asked her why nursing, she explained that she wanted to be a physician’s assistant and was wait-listed. “Nursing was my back-up plan” which helps me to see that there is a plan for all us. This was the path she was meant to walk.

Kristen is a natural transformational leader. She involves her staff in decision making and elicits their feedback when planning and developing new processes. When the Covid -19 crisis hit us she was instrumental in building processes for the ICU that would ensure her staff had supplies, PPE, mock codes, the development of processes needed specifically for this patient population. She developed PPE grab and go packs which has helped to manage the burn rate of supplies and decrease the anxiety of her staff for having their supplies. With the mock codes she has been able to create special code carts that easily be taken into the patients room without wasting all the soft good items usually found on the cart. Clear see through back packs for PPE for rapid response and for off the unit codes that her nursing staff is responding to in the event that they would need PPE quickly.

I happened upon her speaking with one of her nurses that had been caring for Covid-19 patients. She was extremely concerned about their wellbeing, ensuring that they had respite time, and offered repeatedly the opening “please call me anytime – I am always here for you.”

When I am asked to describe a servant leader Kristen Taylor is the first leader to come to mind within our CHI St. Luke’s family. She exudes positivity and is level headed when critical decisions must be made. She leads by example and will get out and work along with her staff. Kristen has the makings of a future CNO. I have never been so thankful that nursing was her backup plan.

Jenna Miller-Haj
ER, RT, ICU, Med/Surg, Women’s, Radiology, EVS, Lab, FANS, Surgery, Physicians, and all the Centennial Leaders and Staff ER, RT, ICU, Med/Surg, Women’s, Radiology, EVS, Lab, FANS, Surgery, Physicians, and all the Centennial Leaders and Staff, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Centennial (April 23, 2020)
This team has worked countless hours in serving our community in the fight against COVID. They truly live our mission and values of Baylor Scott & White Health. ER, RT, ICU, Med/Surg, Women’s, Radiology, EVS, Lab, FANS, Surgery, Physicians, and all the Centennial Leaders and StaffThey treat every patient and family member as their own loved one. We are all in this together and they demonstrate this as by working as a team and a family. We pray and lift each other. #BSWMCCentennial #Heroes #ToTheFrontline -Dr. Joseph Berumen
“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”Hebrews 12:1-2
United Regional Health Care System - Logo United Regional Health Care Team, United Regional Health Care System (April 23, 2020)
Outstanding COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team - The entire team at United Regional Health Care System rose to the challenge of meeting the COVID-19 Pandemic with incredible dedication, professionalism, caring and compasion for not only our patients and community, but for their co-workers and everyone in the organization. From COVID-19 patient number one who left with a joyful send off, after arriving on a plane from New York unable to breath, to the mother of one of our ICU nurses who went home after days on a ventilator, the team made a truly positive difference in the lives of others. We provided excellence in health care to the communities we serve in a way that will always be revered as one of our finest moments. We know we still have much to learn, but so much to be grateful for, in our continued journey to earn the trust and respect of our patients and families. - Jane Ritter, CNO
Alexis Rankins Alexis Rankins – RN, HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center (April 23, 2020)
Alexis is in the front line in our quest to ensure that we identify and treat all our COVID patients appropriately and in a timely manner. She is a staff and patient advocate, ensuring that everyone is safe at all times. In the beginning of the pandemic, Alexis brought up many case scenarios via which we were able to ensure the safest work flow and PPE for our front line caregivers. She walked through patient entrance and treatment area, ensuring that we think through all possible scenarios. We are a small Emergency Room and have limited staff at all times and therefore it was important for us to role play through the situations to maintain the highest level of safety. Alexis’s diligence helped us hardwire these processes where we have no patients or staff that has been infected due to cross contamination. - Puneet Freibott
Front Line staff leadership is key to safety for our patients and staff
Brittany Manuel Paula DiCenzo Paula DiCenzo MSN RN & Brittany Manuel BSN RN – Shannon Medical Center (April 23, 2020)
Paula and Brittany were both new in their roles this year when the pandemic began. They both stepped up to make our 5 North Unit theGroup Photo - DiCenzo and Manuel first designated Covid unit. They both did this with a positive attitude and a smile on their face. They have spent hours working with staff to develop new policies, processes and ongoing education to make sure both the patients and the staff are taken care of with the most up to date information from the Covid team and CDC – often coming in on the weekend and after hours to meet those needs. Both have been examples of great leaders for their team and being so new in the roles have done an amazing job!!! -Becky Fuentes DNP RN NE-BC
Marquita Sparkman Marquita Sparkman – Director of Critical Care and Wound Care, Medical City Fort Worth (April 23, 2020)
Marquita Sparkman, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, Director of Critical Care and Wound Care at Medical City Fort Worth, has been an integral part of the leadership command center to lead the fight against COVID-19. Her leadership style and knowledge related to the care of patients has led to multiple process improvements. In addition, she always has the patients and staff members in mind to ensure that they are safe and mentally well attended to. As a unit leader, she and her staff experience the care of COVID-19 patients first hand. She always lends a hand when needed and communicates with her staff in a way that they appreciate and understand.

Her leadership is exceptional her attentiveness to detail has allowed her and her units to achieve great outcomes. -Anne-Gret Friedrich-Cuntz
Sonya Polk-Davis Sonya Polk-Davis, RN – MD Anderson Cancer Center (April 21, 2020)
We are honored to nominate Sonya Polk-Davis from MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) as a hero making a difference in our organization during this time of crisis. MDACC is a nationally renowned cancer center whose patients are extremely vulnerable to infection, especially viruses, due to immunosuppression from cancer therapies. As the challenge of COVID 19 arose, MDACC was tasked with setting up a testing site for its employees to have access to nasopharyngeal testing. The goal was to have a dedicated space to test employees who displayed symptoms and to either diagnose or rule out the virus. This effort was designed to ensure that MDACC employees had the option to be tested to protect themselves and others in the workplace. There was a call out to nurse leaders for volunteers to support and manage staff at these sites. Sonya did not hesitate and accepted the challenge to lead at this site. The actual site is made up of 3 areas, a registration tent for patients to sign in, trailer for staff to do the actual testing, and a second trailer for staff respite area. She assisted with education of staff, ensuring the proper supplies were on hand, proper PPE procedures were always in place for all staff, as well as auditing documentation to ensure all requirements were met. One hospital leader commented, “Sonya did an excellent job coordinating the flow of patients into and out of the trailer as well as clarifying the diverse roles of the employees who were being tested.” These were peers at the institution. She demonstrated excellent leadership qualities by role modeling behaviors, ensuring professionalism and employee privacy, during the testing process. As a testament to her leadership skills, the team has formed a cohesive bond and they would welcome the opportunity to extend services as needed during this crisis. That outpouring of support demonstrates the type of leader Sonya is and the team’s willingness to continue in this testing site with her. Sonya did not hesitate in accepting this challenge and has proven herself to be a most capable and effective leader in a crisis. We are extremely proud and grateful for her leadership and willingness to assist and act during this challenging time. -Krissy Doyle
Natosha	Jenkins Natosha Jenkins, RN – MD Anderson Cancer Center (April 21, 2020)
We are honored to nominate Natosha Jenkins from MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) as a hero making a difference in our organization during this time of crisis. MDACC is a nationally renowned cancer center whose patients are extremely vulnerable to infection, especially viruses, due to immunosuppression from cancer therapies. Our organization was tasked with partnering with another hospital at the Texas Medical Center to start a community-based testing site for COVID-19. This testing site was a collaboration with 5 other hospitals along with the City of Houston, to serve the symptomatic population around Houston. When this opportunity arose, Natohsa was one of the first to step up and volunteer as a leader for the site. When she was assigned to the site, she did not hesitate to immerse herself in the proper PPE technique, communication with leaders at the site, as well as the safety measures to ensure staff were protected at all times. She attended the training, communicated with organizational leaders and her team to ensure the message was clear as to what the overall goal, testing potential positive patients and keeping staff and the environment safe. She always remained a staunch advocate of protection and safety. During this special assignment, Natosha has continued to demonstrate leadership daily in providing clear direction to staff, observing proper donning and doffing of PPE, remaining present and available to the team, and communicating frequent changes at the site to MDACC leaders. Natosha remained flexible and adaptive to change and displayed a calm demeanor which also enabled staff to feel supported. The conditions at the site were challenging the first few days with rainstorms and 90 degree heat. With multiple hospital systems present, there was some confusion over the responsibilities of each system. Her positive and uplifting attitude garnered the attention of other hospital leaders at the testing site. One leader commented “Natosha was helping other hospital systems with their processes.” Natosha selflessly elevated her leadership by putting all efforts toward the success of this initiative. Natosha’s guidance and utilization of PPE and infection control modelled the way for others with her adherence to technique and detailed communication. We are so proud and grateful for her leadership and support throughout this testing initiative, hospital partnerships, and success of Covid testing outcomes and want to honor her accomplishments. -Krissy Doyle
Melissa Hyatt – Nurse Manager, M D Anderson Cancer Center (April 21, 2020)
We are honored to nominate Melissa Hyatt, nurse manager from MD Anderson Cancer Center – Sugar Land as a hero making a difference within our organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has afforded many challenges for all healthcare workers, especially nurses. MD Anderson is a great place to work and nurses are valued team members. When concerns surrounding the virus were raised, there was an urgent need to protect our vulnerable patient population. Immediately, Melissa volunteered and offered to continue her full time managerial duties while performing this new role. She stated, “I am a nurse leader and I welcome new challenges.” So, when the first patient COVID patient testing site was outlined, she quickly offered suggestions, outlined the schedule, and stamped everything with her own signature management style. The site quickly evolved into an employee testing site as well. -Regina Smith
"I have never been treated with such dignity and professionalism as noted during this time as her peer being tested".
Belinda Holley Belinda Holley – Director Infection Prevention, Medical City Fort Worth (April 21, 2020)
Belinda Holley, BSN, RN, CIC, CNOR, Director of Infection Prevention at Medical City Fort Worth, deserves to be recognized as a true leader during this COVID-19 pandemic. Her leadership goes beyond the call of duty. She is always present to serve patients, employees, and physicians at the hospital during constantly changing circumstances. In addition to being an active member of the command center, she rounds daily on the specific units caring for COVID-19 patients to ensure that staff and patients have the appropriate resources to care for patients and each other. She ensures that staff has proper personal protective equipment to wear. In addition, she is a wonderful communicator to other clinicians and physicians. Belinda is helping to lead Medical City Fort Worth in the fight against COVID-19. -Anne-Gret Friedrich-Cuntz
Michelle Wildman Michelle Wildman – Director Neuro ICU, Neuro Med-Surg, Neuro PCU and CC PCU, Medical City Fort Worth (April 21, 2020)
Michelle Wildman, MBA-HA, BSN, RN, CCRN, Director of Neuro ICU, Neuro Med-Surg, Neuro PCU, and CC PCU, deserves to be recognized for her excellent leadership qualities during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is an integral part of Medical City Fort Worth’s Command Center which leads the hospital during this crisis. She has previous experience in catastrophic emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina and the Ebola outbreak which have served her well in her current role. Her experience assisted in the establishment of entrance screeners for the hospital in order to keep the patients and staff safe. She also developed a regular schedule for the screeners so staff would not miss needed payroll hours. Her proactive response to these situations demonstrates her leadership skills. I have personally known Michelle for several years and am very impressed with her leadership style. -Anne-Gret Friedrich-Cuntz
Brandon Prunty Brandon Prunty, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC – VP of Business Development, Medical City Fort Worth (April 20, 2020)
Brandon Prunty, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, VP of Business Development at Medical City Fort Worth has been a leader during the Covid 19 Pandemic and has been instrumental in the logistics of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). He was appointed as the PPE Czar for the facility and was tasked to keep the caregivers safe and preserve the supply of PPE throughout the Covid crisis. He also serves as the leader of the PPE task force and owned the execution of the PPE conservation strategy for the hospital. Brandon ensures that only appropriate PPE will be utilized. He also manages, monitors, and controls the inventory of all essential PPE including masks, gloves, gowns, goggles and hand sanitizer. He also stays current with all the up to date recommendations on PPE. He and his team kept all staff, patients, and physicians safe. Through his leadership, it is important to note that no direct exposure infections of Covid 19 have occurred and we are so thankful for that. -Anne-Gret Friedrich-Cuntz
Brandon Prunty, MBA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, VP of Business Development at Medical City Fort Worth has been a leader during the Covid 19 Pandemic and has been instrumental in the logistics of supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). He was appointed as the PPE Czar for the facility and was tasked to keep the caregivers safe and preserve the supply of PPE throughout the Covid crisis. He also serves as the leader of the PPE task force and owned the execution of the PPE conservation strategy for the hospital. Brandon ensures that only appropriate PPE will be utilized. He also manages, monitors, and controls the inventory of all essential PPE including masks, gloves, gowns, goggles and hand sanitizer. He also stays current with all the up to date recommendations on PPE. He and his team kept all staff, patients, and physicians safe. Through his leadership, it is important to note that no direct exposure infections of Covid 19 have occurred and we are so thankful for that.
Shawntay Harris – Manager of Nursing and Staffing Services, Baylor Scott and White Temple (April 17, 2020)
Shawntay has been phenomenal during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the Manager of Nursing and Staffing Services with 20 years of experience in emergency and trauma services. Her experience in emergency services has prevailed during the COVID just at it has shown through in many other disasters. Shawntay deployed the Temple float pool, which she manages, to the emergency department Day 1. She worked closely with the Temple emergency department leaders to develop the COVID-19 Cross Training-Non-ED RN Competency checklist. With the competencies developed at the forefront of the crisis, Shawntay screened and deployed an additional 50 former ED staff and non-ED nurses to the emergency department to work alongside core staff to provide safe passage for patients during the COVID-19 crisis. During the COVID 19 crisis, Shawntay was tasked with reporting for Temple region to the BSWH enterprise, by the Chief Nursing Officer of Temple Region, Leslie Gembol, DNP, RN, NEA-BC. In this role, she worked tirelessly with Temple’s Business Analysts to develop dashboards and EPIC reports to streamline reporting across the region. Shawntay worked long hours with different service lines and entities throughout the region to validate data. Shawntay never appeared to be tired!! She came to work everyday with the same bubbly personality she shows daily. Shawntay’s most impressive work during the COVID-19 preparations was her work with Nursing Professional Development and various other key stakeholders in the Temple region to deploy the team-based nursing concept. Based off the non-ED RN competency, the leaders deployed nurses from low census areas to other critical areas. Through the Shift management system, Shawntay was able to track when and where staff from the Temple Region as well as the BSWH system flex pool were needed and could be successfully deployed. Shawntay developed tasks within roles to make sure the Shift management system would reflect the model for roles and competencies developed by Nursing Professional Development. Her role during the COVID crisis preparation called for serve in the role of the Temple Regional Manager of the Flex Pool. She worked with the Vice President of Human Resources at Temple Region to develop teams to deploy early in the COVID pandemic planning process. Shawntay’s expertise was instrumental collaborating the HR to determine the levels of care for order in deployment. She increased her own staff in the staffing office by 50% in preparation for a surge in staffing needs. She deployed employees from the surgical services in line with the “we are in it together” motto. When I talked to her about the “extra people” on every shift in the staffing office. Her reply was, “Temple region will be ready to deploy over 400 employees to different areas of the hospital for whatever shift within less than five minutes. The deployed employees have one job. They are trained using the Toyota model for LEAN processes. They will assist the core staffing analyst with one task.”
Life battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. Sooner or later the person who wins is the person who thinks she can.
Clemente Saravia – Registered Nurse, Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital (April 15, 2020)
Mario as we call him has always stood out! He has won many recogntions like DAISY award, Salute to Nurses and Good Samaritan awards, Best Graduate Nurse, featued in video for Unparalleled Care and patients and peers think highly of him. He has alwasy gone above and beyond to care for all of his pateints and to suport his peers! He always volunteer to help out in most difficult situation like helping a co-worker in need like someone got flooded, donates generous amount to all those going through difficult times, working in a COVID unit and the list goes on and on. He treats patients and peers with utmost respect. -Emilyn Rodriguez
One manager sent this email about him, "I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the most shining example that I have seen of our ICARE values in some time. I do not know if any nursing awards are still open for nominations, or maybe a daisy award if nothing else, but this nurse needs to be recognized."
Mario has a special touch and charisma that all his patients admire and appreciate! He finds extra time to give all his patients extra attention that they all admire and appreciate! Every single day he comes to work, he knows exactly what to do - he wants to make sure he can make a difference in someone's day. His intention is to make them feel important and heard. He goes above and beyond to find out what the patient may like to do or to eat or anything that can make his or her day better. Then he will find a way to provide it to them. He was feature in "Pathway to Unparalleled" because he remembered that the patient loves to watch a specific basketball game and came on his day off to set the patient to watch it. The patient felt so important that she cried from the attention he provided her and for remembering what she told him in passing and never thought he will take it seriously. This is MARIO, every single day, to all his patients and to all his peers. He has been nominated for DAISY award multiple times. Here are what some of them say: "Mario went above and beyond our expectations of his duties. Not only did he do a fabulous job of taking care of me, I could hear him in the hallway always assisting patients. He is very nice and friendly and is well versed in his position. He explains everything! Please hang on to him!" Another patient said, "Please recognize Mario - he is wonderful! He has been extremely attentive to my medical needs and has been very kind and caring! He is always watching for my safety!" Another one said, “Mario treated us with respect and caring attitude! His care and concerns has been outstanding and his technical skills were superb!" He is a great example of what an excellent nurse should be! You are very fortunate to have him on your staff! He seriously need to be recognized with an award or a hefty raise!" and this other patient said, " i don't know what your criteria is for this award but all i can say is, he is dedicated, awesome, great team player. Not only did he do an extraordinary job with me, while sitting in my room, i can hear him interact with the rest of the ream in a very positive attitude about helping others. Mario exemplifies excellence in so many ways, how to treat not just the patient but his co-workers as well!" There has been many words of appreciation and recognition said about Mario. Every single day, when i do my Leader Rounding, every single one of his patients has great things to say about him. Not very many nurses have been specifically mentioned by name. He always find a way to make a patient feel special in his own ways. One patient said, he explained what's wrong with him much better than the doctor.

You can ask any of his peers and they will all say they love working with Mario for he is always there for them. All PCAs vote him to be the best nurse to work with. When other units call for help to get an IV started, he always go no matter how busy he is. He will miss lunch but will never miss an opportunity to help others. He has the integrity, compassion, accountability and respect and displays these values at all times. His integrity is so high that you know he will do everything right no matter if anyone's looking or not. His compassion roots from his own personal dilemma he had to deal with as a child. He can always see beyond a difficult or demanding patient, the need to be treated right and listened to. He can always connect with patients for he has the patience to find out what they need and how he can help them beyond the call of duty. He is accountable for all his actions, even reporting himself quickly when he thinks he has missed something or not sure of anything. He respects and treats everyone with high regard that you can sense and feel his love and care for you. One time, our Unit Secretary was not her regular self, Mario found out she lost her puppy, later he came back and brought her s stuffed puppy with a balloon to cheer her up. He has helped others outside of work
April Little – Manager Infection Control, United Regional Health Care System (April 14, 2020)
April has continued to keep the entire organization educated on COVID -19 and has ensured the safety of all hospital personnel. She has worked countless hours to support an entire hopsital staff. Thank you for your time and consideration. -Julie Moore
2 South Team COVID ICU – RN, Methodist Hospital (April 13, 2020)
Outstanding experience for a family during the mohter's hospitilization for COVID 19 positive nurse. Her daughter is also a nurse who flew in from California as her mother was our first intubated patient for COVID. Whe expressed her appreciation for the entire team who cared for her mother during this difficult time.
This letter is to inform you of an outstanding experience my family and I had during my mother’s hospitalization in Methodist Hospital during March 2020.

As you may be aware, my mother was the first intubated COVID-19 patient in ICU (2 South) and I cannot commend the team enough on the amazing care they provided. Many staff volunteered to care for my mother even though she was in a newly isolated unit with many uncertainties regarding her diagnosis. From the beginning it was transparent that the team worked diligently to provide safe, compassionate and quality care for my mother while maintaining her dignity during this challenging time.

When we flew in from California, we were immediately welcomed by Negar Johnson, ACNO and Dr. Charles Burch with details of my mother’s condition and the type of care she was receiving. Negar greeted us with hospitality and had been particularly accommodating by allowing us to facetime my mother and meet the rest of the team. The group of physicians who cared for my mother were exceptional and Dr. Burch certainly treated us with utmost respect, thoroughly explained my mother’s plan of care, and coordinated her care with expertise.

Furthermore, we would like to specifically thank the following nursing, medical staff who contributed tremendously to my mother’s recovery all the way until she was transferred to MASH - Dr. Bravin, Dr. Abedi, Matt, Jared, Steve, Adam, Roberto, Aurora, Vicenta, Krista, Kaitlin, Dolores, Megan, and Rachel. We are truly grateful for this excellent team!

Kind Regards,

Jamie Joy Chiu, MSN, RN-BC
Negar Johnson – ACNO, Methodist Hospital (April 13, 2020)
Negar has opened a COVID ICU that is providing unparallelled care to many critical patients. Dr. Jeff DellaVolpe, Critical Care Intersivist, shared a recognition for all the hard work she has one to make this unit a stellar unit including managing 8 ECMO patients on a unit that did not exist 2 months ago. -Jane McCurley
This goes without saying, but I cannot tell you how much I am grateful to Negar for the incredible job she has been doing throughout this COVID 19 crisis. She has been working round the clock, always has a positive attitude, and has truly accomplished something special on 2South. I hope you can take the time to come visit this week, and to see the great things that are happening on that unit. I cannot think of any ICU in the country that can go from not existing 2 months ago, to taking care of the sickest patients in the state, to include 8 ECMO patients. We could not have done this without Negar. I know she is consistently a high performer, so this all might go unnoticed, but this has been a remarkable effort even for her.

I hope you realize how important of a contribution she has made to what we are doing there.

With gratitude,

Dr. Jeff Dellavolpe
Michael Martin – RN, Methodist Hospital (April 13, 2020)
Exemplary care to a young 24 week pregnant patient in our COVID ICU who was on a vent and the fear was that she would lose her baby. He prayed with her and asked God to guide his care and to provide comfort and reassurance to her and her family. Later in the shift he felt eyes on him and saw she was wide awake and waving at him. He reassured her that her baby was doing well. They continued to communicate through writing. Fast forward and he was there when she was extubated and transfeered to a lower level of care. Michael shared "to this day in my nursing career, I have never felt happier. I felt a sense of satisfaction in our fight against COVID and feel we have a true sense of family and this instance showed it." -Jane McCurley
Gretchen Hunt – CNO, Texas Health Resources: Texas Health Southwest. (April 12, 2020)
Even in the midst of the crisis Gretchen has her leadership on the pulse of her organization. Her focus is to keep her team safe and take exceptional care of our patients. We are a smaller hospital and have more patients (currently) than our large sister hospital. She organized shifts for all leaders, kept staff that was displaced with no elective procedures by finding roles they could do. She encourages her team and still has time to be truly present. -Juanita Hernandez
Pam Bradshaw DNP, RN NEA-BC – CNO / COO, Shannon Medical Center (April 11, 2020)
Pam has assumed the role of incident commander for the entire Shannon Health System. She has been the leader for the all departments in the system, helping keep everyone working together as a team, developing drive through testing sites, dedicated Covid units and doing a daily recording to send out 7 days a week to keep everyong updated on our status of PPE, numbers of patients, new processes, etc. -Becky Fuentes DNP RN, NE- BC
Wanda Peebles – CNO, Executive VP, JPS Health Network (April 10, 2020)
Since the beginning of March, Wanda has been working 7 days a week to plan, organize and implement for the COVID 19 pandemic crisis. Being the nurse leader, she implemented all employees being screened at all entry point, and providing masks for all staff so they are protected and so as protecting the patients. All visitors have limited access. Elective surgeries are cancelled. The planning for conserving PPE and checking on supplies is no easy task. She ensures all healthcare workers providing services to the COVID patients are safe and they have all equipment and supplies they need. She also planned the re-training for nurses who have not been working on the floor/unit for a period of time. She ensures they are competent when they need to be deployed to units that need to have extra staffing. Besides doing the planning and implementation, she still makes time to hear our concerns and feedback. Every day, she holds conference call with her nursing leaders so she has good understanding what’s happening on the units. She also follows up on our concerns/issues so problems will not fall through the cracks. When we receive the generous food donations, she ensures that the staff will benefit from the gifts. She takes time in her busy schedule, she writes heartwarming letters and encouraging messages to the nurses. With her leadership, staff are kept safe and up-to-date. They are encouraged and supported during this national crisis. They know that their leader considers them in each decision and has their wellbeing in mind. -Lily Wong
Kimberly Bernard – Director Nursing Operations, Houston Methodist Hospital (April 9, 2020)
Exemplary leadership and professionalism during the pandemic. She took over responsibility for documenting and notifying the state/CDC for COVID 19 confirmed cases. She has done so without complaining and with care and ease while upholding the duties of the changes within the hospital. ICU units being added and closing of other units to ensure the hospital is prepared. I feel she is an unsung hero and should be recognized for her examplary work and care. -Julie Lewis
Belinda Metts RN, MSN, CCRN, NE-BC – Nurse Mangager, Houston Methodist Hospital (April 9, 2020)
Mrs. Metts was challenged to convert a 37 bed medicine unit to a COVID-19 unit. Ms. Metts worked with her team, leadership and ancillary departments to ensure that the unit was appropriately staffed and equipped to provide care to patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Her diligence ensured that patients received the appropriate care while ensuring the safety of the clinical staff. -Miguel Casas