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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

Meghan Wade Meghan Wade – ED Nursing Supervisor, Texas Health Resources (August 11, 2020)
Meghan is consistently going above and beyond for our team. As a mid-shift supervisor, she is constantly on the go and always has her team on the forefront of her mind. If there is a question, she first thinks about how that would affect her team and then makes a decision. She provides exemplary service to our crew by managing chaos and rewarding them when they need it most. She recently brought Red Bulls, cokes and snacks out of her own budget as a pick me up for the staff. I am amazed by what she does everyday and she is a great role model for me to follow. -Tucker Higginbotham
Timothy Polander Timothy Polander – Registered Nurse, Texas Health Resources Fort Worth Hospital (August 11, 2020)
Harris 6 has been a COVID unit since March. Tim has been an outstanding Charge Nurse, mentor, and great support to the unit staff as well as other units in the hospital. He is well-respected by his peers and physicians for his vast medical and nursing knowledge. -Samantha Blair
Nana Danso Nana Danso – RN, Texas Health Resources (August 10, 2020)
Nana is one of the best nurses I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She is always up for the challeng and willing to help out the team. She is a float nurse here at Texas Health Fort Worth and is working on various COVID units every shift. During this time she is training new graduate nurses during a pandemic with a smile on her face. Nana is also picking up extra shifts to help out the hospital. Her work and impact is unique in the float department because she is able to work all over the facility. People regularly commend her for her clinical expertise and her compassionate care. She has been with Texs Health for over 15 years. Her patients love her on top of all of that. I would like to nomiate her for this award because she is seperated from her family to keep them safe. She is doing this because she feels the great need for her to be a nurse. She has truly stepped up to the challenge of this pandemic and gone above and beyond what is required of her. This nurses lives out the values of what nurses stand for and her patients benefit from it greatly. -Heather Cawood
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas Main 4 West and Main 4 East, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas (August 10, 2020)
These two Teams have served as the primary COVID medical surgical units since it started back in March. These teams have worked hard and have maintained their usual positive attitudes. -Cynthia Ekes
Morgan Nolan Morgan Nolan – Cardiac 1 Supervisor, Texas Health Resources (August 8, 2020)
Morgan comes into work everyday with a smile on her face. She is always looking to better the lives of others weather it be the employees she manages or the patients. She is a joy to be around and makes the work environment enjoyable. She has her masters in management and her CCRN. -Marshall White
Bryan Bailey Bryan Bailey – Director of Nursing, Texas Health Resources HEB (August 7, 2020)
Bryan has been a committee abs innovative leader in the are of behavioral health. He is best known for the opening of a dual medical / behavioral health unit meeting both the medical and mental health needs of the community. Bryan also has become very active in supporting those who, like himself, have overcame COVID and helps strangers accept, process and otherwise overcome the stigma of a covid positive diagnosis. He waS featured in a recent CNN article related to his efforrs. -Christy DeLaGarza
Remember Bryan Bailey’s name, as an innovator, leader, bedside nurse at heart, Bryan will do many great things for our community and nation. His commitment to others, including his staff, is second to none.
Bryan Bailey Bryan Bailey – Director of Nursing, Texas Health (August 7, 2020)
Bryan noticed the hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning supplies expired after 24 hours after being opened and by voicing this concern, made our facility safer during COVID. Bryan facilitates COVID + support groups within the community in dealing with the stigma of COVID + diagnosis. Bryan was instrumental in facilitating care for COVID + patients with dual diagnosis during this crisis. -Julie Elmore
Amber Rauch, MSN CNL Amber Rauch, MSN CNL – Clinical Nurse Leader, Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth (August 7, 2020)
Amber has been tireless as a Clinical Nurse Leader on our COVID unit. She inspires and works hard. Even from the beginning helping with intubations when we knew nothing about this disease she was right in the throws helping, teaching, working extra hours. She is a rock. We all lean on her expertise. She is caring and you can vent to her when you are overwhelmed and think you cannot go on. Her professionalism, knowledge and just being there have really impacted our team and our ability to care for COVID patients. -Misty Ellison
"Surround yourself with people that inspure and encourage positive change in your life. Build a team in which you can work together to support each other and build better lives." Alvin Celeste
Texas Health Resources - logo Kelley Cartwright – Clinical Nurse Leader, Texas Health Resources (August 7, 2020)
Kelley has been a true leader during this COVID crisis and taken over a disaster response team to help keep visitors and staff safe and institue a new labor pool to monitor and screen entrances and units and avoid accidental exposure to anyone with the COVID 19 virus. She created an entire team of professionals and has managed them well. She is a great leader that is willing to step in whenever and wherever the need is the greatest. -Jillian Carroll
Lindsay Longerbone – Clinical Nurse Leader, Texas Health Southwest (August 7, 2020)
Lindsay has shown true leadership during this COVID crisis from the beginning. From volunteering to return to the bedside to help the ICU to doing whatever she needs on her unit to help lead and guide nurses on the frontlines. She is a true leader and willing to do whatever she needs to step in and make a difference. -Jillian Carroll
Pam Duffey Pam Duffey – Chief Operating Officer | Chief Nursing Officer, Texas Health Specialty Hospital (August 7, 2020)
Within a unique setting with so many unknowns during COVID-19 crisis, Pam has been a faithful, encouraging leader to every level of staff. She rounds with a bowl of chocolates to lift the spirits of the staff and ensures each one knows how valued they are. Her door is always open and, no matter what else is ensuing, she lends a compassionate, listening ear. Inspite of the difficult times COVID has presented, our organization is not just surviving, but it is thriving. This would not be possible without Pam's leadership. -Diane Thomas
There is no one I'd rather work for in good times and difficult times!
Berni Neely Berni Neely – Clinical Nurse Leader, Texas Health Harris Methodist Ft. Worth (August 7, 2020)
Berni has been a leader among the CNLs for years. This year she really shone as she led the CNLs at a large metropolitan hospital to improve and exceed standards on several Patient Safety Metrics. All this during the COVID-19 crisis. Her patience and perseverence are relentless and she does it with a smile and encouragement for everyone. -Diane Thomas
It's one thing to move a group to high standards in normal times, but when doing it during a time like COVID, it is remarkable and exemplifies a true leader!
Peggy Needler Peggy Needler – BSN, RN, CVRN, THFW (August 6, 2020)
One of our RN’s on Cardiac 3, Peggy Needler has a bleeding heart. After the recent death of her father our country went into lockdown. Peggy grieved for the elderly in seclusion in the Nursing Homes due to Covid. She knew that not only families were struggling not seeing their loved one, but also the elderly were struggling being alone. Peggy took every measure with our patients in the hospital to provide extra TLC. She called families with updates and contemplated how to help the community. During one of her days off she had a great idea to help brighten some residents at Benbrook Nursing Home. Peggy went to the Nursing Home and painted the windows with flowers and words of kindness. Peggy consistently goes above and beyond for her patients and families in the hospital, but also for the community we serve. Peggy lives the Promise each and every day she works, and every day she lives! -Jennifer Dalton
Ashley Kopech Ashley Kopech – Trauma Program Manager, Baylor Scott and White College Station (August 6, 2020)
Ashley Kopech MSN, RN, CCRN, TCRN serves as the Trauma Program Manager for BSWH-College Station. During the Covid 19 pandemic, Ashley has used her role to help faciliate RAC communication and monitor daily volumes and Covid trends. Ashley consistently has worked day after day and always puts the patients first. She serves as a contact for the community and Regional EMS providers. Ahsley manned the command center and also assisted in tracking daily employee exposures and supporting all departments. Ashley constantly puts the community, organization and patients first. Ashley's collaborative approach to Covid response has enabled the facility and Region to continue to provide excellent patient care.
Exemplary Service -Amber Reed
Tierah Aragon Tierah Aragon – Nurse Manager, Texas Health Arlington Memorial (August 6, 2020)
Tierah is the Nurse Manager of ICU at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. She manages a 19 bed ICU and inpatient dialysis. In preparation for a COVID 19 Pandemic Tierah was asked in March 2020 take on an additional 20 bed unit. It had been closed for many years and was full of old furniture and equipment. She had to prepare it quickly to be ready for the pandemic. Tierah and her team immediately rose to the challenge and began removing storage items and cleaning the unit. She coordinated supplies to be brought to the unit with supply chain, worked with pharmacy to get Pyxis filled. She had to find beds as well as all other equipment needed to run an intensive care department. On March 30, 2020 the new unit was opened to cohort COVID patients. Eventually another COVID unit was opened and as time went by eventually Tierah's unit was mostly intensive care or intermediate care COVID patients. In July 2020 another occurred in Texas and the unit saw a peak. In the past our hospital had an average daily census (ADC) of 16 critical care patients. With the new unit open in July we hit a high of a total of 35 critical care patients in both units with the majority being in the COVID unit. Tierah has managed her departments well, she has worked on staffing tirelessly. Starting with a staffing to cover and ADC of 16 left challenges in staffing with ICU trained staff. Tierah has worked with other internal departments, system staffing office, and contract staffing to cover needs to provide safe care. She remains calm and positive throughout this pandemic leading her team. (Picture: Tierah (left) with Charge Nurse, Zack Polyak (middle) and Chief Nursing Officer, Shonna Bracco (right). Polyak was recognized in August 2020 by D Magazine as one of Best of Big D Health Heroes) Video: ICU Unit 26 on March 29, 2020 one day before opening to COVID patients. -Shonna Bracco
Tierah is without a doubt a COVID hero and she has shown tremendous resilience and leadership throughout this pandemic.
Norma Avitua-Ovalle Norma Avitua-Ovalle – Register Nurse Trauma PI Mgr, UHS (August 6, 2020)
Manage adult trauma for process improvement, thru Covid has not worked from home, staying essential to the mission. Continued to stay on track on PHD Leadership course attending OLLU University. In professional nursing organization National Association of Hispanic Nurses President this July. Continued to mentor students in nursing online.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Saint Mother Teresa
All Healthcare Team All Healthcare Team – Starr County Memorial Hospital (August 5, 2020)
Our ONLY county's hospital has been dedicated in caring for COVID 19 patients. All our staff has joined hands and fought this battle daily. We have tirelessly worked 24 hours a day/7 days a week to serve our county. We have very limited resources but continued our human chain to care for each community member. We have literally jumped, cried, sweat, gone weeks without sleep for the same mission: Protecting and Caring for OUR community. These past 6-8 weeks have been the most challenging moments for our hospital but through the hard work and determination of all our Healthcare Heroes, WE WILL PREVAIL AND FIGHT THROUGH THIS. WE WILL CONTINUE THE FIGHT AS LONG AS WE HAVE TOO!!!! In our community, we do not just treat "patients"..we care for family. -Martha Torres
"Our Healthcare Team doesn't treat patients, WE TAKE CARE OF OUR FAMILY!!!
All Texas Nurses All Texas Nurses – All Texas Hospitals (August 5, 2020)
All of our front line nurses are heroes in the face of the current Pandemic-so it is hard to nominate one single person.
"People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about."-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Bryan Bailey Bryan Bailey – Director of Nursing, Texas Health HEB Springwood (August 5, 2020)
Bryan has been recently recongized in a CNN article for his volunteer work within COVID support groups where he is tackling the stimga of the diagnosis. Having COVID himself, overcoming that and working with these individuals struggling with their dignosis, the mental stigma and their overall mental health makes Bryan a hero. Additionally, Bryan's committment and dedication to his behavioral health patients within our organization, as well as within the community both locally and nationally is appreciated. -John Beesley

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Michelle Stemley Michelle Stemley – Director of Women & Childrens Services, Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center / Paul and Judy Andrews Women's Hospital (July 31, 2020)
Michelle Stemley is a phenomenal leader and has been a true example of leadership during the COVID 19 pandemic. Michelle has gone above and beyond to communicate with us on a daily to weekly basis regarding policy changes and the daily changes with COVID. She is always concerned about everyone on her team and goes out of her way to recognize her employees when they excel. Patient care is at the center of Michelle's heart and everything she does is truly to make their experience the best. Her enthusiasm is mimicked by her team due to her obvious passion for nursing. There is nothing that Michelle asks of her team that she would not do herself and that is the definition of a true leader. -Caren Brown
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams
Domingo Parra Domingo Parra – Director of Nursing, Cardiovascular Services, Baylor Scott and White - Temple (July 31, 2020)
Domingo is a servant leader with people at the center of everything he does. Whether those people are our patients, their families, his team, or other colleagues in the organization – he faithfully serves with an unwavering willingness to give of himself. Domingo consistently meets the challenge that COVID-19 has brought to our profession and he continues to explore innovative ways to provide exceptional care to our communities. During this pandemic, he has successfully led many initiatives, including the conversion of our Observation Unit into a designated COVID unit. As a strategic leader, Domingo left no stone unturned in the planning phase and has continued to be forward thinking as the healthcare landscape continues to change at a rapid pace. As a result of his leadership, his team has transitioned flawlessly with confidence in their safety, as well as that of our patients. Domingo leads this heroic team with authenticity and integrity and has created a culture of safety that empowers our front-line caregivers to consistently deliver patient-centered care in a very challenging environment. We are very thankful that he never settles and appreciate his commitment to “lead his team through empowerment, support, and role modeling so that patients and members can give and receive high quality compassionate care”. -Christy Coyle, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Wanyoike Martin Wanyoike – Nurse Manager II, Baylor Scott and White Medical Center Grapevine (July 31, 2020)
Within 3 months of beginning his new role as a nurse manager at BSWH Grapevine, the telemetry unit that Martin leads was turned into the Covid unit. Despite the fear of Covid in those early days, Martin stepped up as true leader to engage his team into becoming this unit. He took the time to listen to his team members about their fears and helped alleviate them with evidence-based literature and CDC guidelines to make them feel safe. He worked amongst his peers and leadership to provide the necessary equipment and resources for his unit. He worked endless hours initially to ensure the team had the necessary equipment, supplies and PPE. During those first weeks of Covid and the shutdown, things were pivoting constantly, but Martin showed up each day with a smile and "let's do this" attitude. He worked closely with all support teams to ensure the unit was safe and that all other teams were kept safe. His leadership was key to the success of that unit and the ability to spread best practices to the intermediate level of care that opened up weeks later. -Kris Cuthair
Chris Blair Chris Blair – Nurse Manager II Progressive Care Unit, Baylor Scott White Health Grapevine (July 31, 2020)
Chris is the nurse manager of a 32-bed Progressive Care Unit that became an intermediate level of care Covid unit within the first month of the shutdown. He worked closely with his team to have a 'can-do' and 'need-to-do-it' attitude to take care of our community and teams. He worked tirelessly on the unit to ensure workflows were successful, PPE was available for all team members, and with support services to ensure the roles were understood for all departments. He is available to his team day and night and comes in on weekends as necessary to provide support and leadership. He provides exemplary service to his team and peers to ensure quality care for patients, families, physicians, and all team members. -Kris Cuthair
Heidi Miller Heidi Miller – Assistant Professor, Clinical, UT Health San Antonio, School of Nursing (July 29, 2020)
Assisted with roll-out of the COVID campaign in the University setting -- she was a real champion. -Jacqueline McGrath
Dr. Miller really stepped up and made difference in our institution. She really was a wonderful advocate for safety for our faculty and staff.
Janice Walker Janice Walker – System Executive Vice President, Chief Nursing Executive (CNE), Baylor Scott & White Health (July 29, 2020)
Janice Walker is an exemplary leader to over 11,000 nurses throughout the Baylor Scott & White hospital system. Greater than 65% of these nurses have their BSN and over 52% have a certification in their specialty due to her dedication in providing support to strengthen nursing across the system and allowing them to practice at the top of their license. Her support extends to empowering nursing through a well established shared governance structure and achieving Magnet Recognition of the Baylor Scott & White hospitals across Texas. She continues to be the strongest advocate and leader to support nursing through our current COVID-19 pandemic by assuring proper PPE availability and education so nursing could provide confident and safe care to our patient population. She is a true advocate for the Baylor Scott & White Health system nursing services by physically visiting and supporting nurses where they work, at the bedside. Janice is an inspiration to her leadership staff who collaborate as a team to provide successful nursing care to our patient population. Nursing is a key player in the success of the Baylor Scott & White Health system which is evidenced in our positive People Surveys who rate her nursing leadership high and additiona rankings in U.S. News & World Report who published its 2020-2021 Best Hospitals list, and for the third consecutive year, Baylor Scott & White is the most award-winning not-for-profit health system in Texas. This does not occur without strong consistent leadership on the front lines of patient care. Janice is a true hero leading Baylor Scott & White nursing to provide exemplary care across Texas! -Michael Turturro
In Janice's own words: "I commit to being a strategic, transformational leader focusing on high-quality, safe, interdisciplinary care models so that patients and members can receive top-of-licensure, superior, innovative nursing care through their continuum of life".
Sherry Perry – Director of Nursing, BSWH - Temple Region (July 26, 2020)
I am nominating Sherry Perry as a 2020 Year of the Nurse Hero. Ms. Perry MSN, RN, CDN, is the Director of Nursing at Baylor Scott & White Temple Region overseeing nursing practice and governance in our outpatient specialty areas. Sherry does an excellent job of driving excellence through measuring outcome-based performance and driving quality and service excellence across the continuum. She is a highly visible leader, providing nursing oversight across multiple regions. Most recently Ms. Perry had the opportunity to expand her role and has stood out as a truly extraordinary leader. During the COVID 19 response the Temple Memorial lab became one of the first to process COVID lab samples. As part of the BSWH response, several collection sites were set up to support COVID19 collections for our patients and employees. Ms. Perry quickly identified and trained staff to support the collection centers. Ms. Perry set up collection sites throughout Central Texas and worked tirelessly to support the teams 7 days/week. In addition to supporting the collection sites, Ms. Perry was also a key member of the BSWH Temple team that responded to requests from local nursing homes & skilled nursing facilities to test their staff and residents when a positive or symptomatic resident was identified. Sherry was always immediately available and due to her leadership was able to quickly identify staff members to help support the effort, often collecting hundreds of specimens/day, often on the weekend. Ms. Perry is a leader that can be depended on to do the right thing for patients and staff. She supports and encourages top of license practice and is a mentor to many healthcare workers throughout the organization. She is a role model and constantly encourages others to always put the patient first. Throughout the COVID pandemic she has continued to progress in a doctoral program. -Leslie Gembol
Lark Ford Lark Ford – Associate Professor, UT Health San Antonio, School of Nursing (July 24, 2020)
Provided amazing leadership and was over the top in providing service to the school during the COVID Pandemic with setting up screening and testing for the whole University Campus. -Jacqueline M McGrath
Dr. Ford is a very dedicated faculty member who has been a leader during the Pandemic. She was instrumental to the University in setting up and managing our screening and referral for testing sites across the campus.She is stellar and a STAR in the School of Nursing.
Jennifer Haggard Jennifer Haggard – Manager Nursing RN Ambulatory, Baylor Scott and White (July 24, 2020)
Jennifer has diligently stepped up as a leader for her team over pulmonary during this pandemic to ensure that patients are taken care of and that all staff are taken care of. She has extended her hours, worked many of weekends during the pandemic to make sure her team is taken care of. She is an extrodinary leader and a very hard worker. I have had the pleasure of working as a manager of another clinic and her hard work definetly does not go unnoticed. Jennifer is also chair of the Nurse Manager Council and a member of the Clinic Nurse Leaders. Jennifer also is attending school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner and completing her master's degree in nursing. -Emily Campos
Linda Vochatzer Linda Vochatzer – Director of Nursing Service, Baylor Scott & White Health Care (July 23, 2020)
Linda has stepped up and taken on an even bigger leadership role since the pandemic. She continues to lead several units at Grapevine and has taken on Womens Services at the Irving facility as well. Linda is always available to provide guidance, leadership and support. She brings a positive attitude and willingness to jump in whenever and wherever she can. Linda is a constant example of the qualities of a great leader. -Becky Huntley
Sherry Perry Sherry Perry – Director of Nursing, Dept. of Medicine, Baylor Scott & White Health (July 23, 2020)
Sherry has the distinction of being the first DON for the Dept of Medicine and has helped a disparate group of ambulatory nurse leaders find a unified voice. She does this while leading her own Executive Health care team, working on her DNP, and volunteering her time as a CASA advocate. Most impressively, as COVID has come to town, she and Angie Gentry quickly put together our testing site for persons under investigation for COVID and have devoted hours to building a team that at its peak (so far) has tested 272 patients in a four hour period. Their team works 7 days a week to test patients both at their Pavilion testing site and at nursing homes in our town. I have had the privilege of helping at the site, and they provide fast, efficient, SAFE, and COMPASSIONATE care, while also caring for one another and having fun! Sherry is my hero! -Jennifer Haggard
Amber Reed Amber Reed – Chief Nursing Officer, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - College Station (July 23, 2020)
Amber has taken on the COVID-19 task of ensuring every staff member in our hospital understands the type of PPE they are supposed to wear and why. She has spent countless hours at the hospital and clinics coaching and speaking with staff about PPE and our conservation processes of PPE when it was difficult at the beginning of the pandemic to understand and keep track of all the changing information. Not only is she our CNO, she has also been affectionately named our 'Chief PPE Officer'. Moreover, Amber was consciously aware of how scary the unknowns of this virus were and how nervous staff was in caring for our first COVID patients. Amber donned her PPE and accompanied the nurse in the room in caring for a patient. True commitment to caring for both her nursings staff and the patients we serve. -Amy Brooks
Emily Curlee Emily Curlee – Clinical Compliance & Accreditation Director- RN, BSN, MBA, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare (July 23, 2020)
Emily has led the Temple Region (including 3 hospitals, 1 SNF & many clinics) Clinical Compliance efforts for over 5 years now. She is a true expert of TJC, CMS, and State regulations. During the pandemic Clinical Compliance has become front and center as TJC, CMS, and the State have updated regulations almost daily. Emily has stayed on top of these regulations and alerted leadership with any changes. Not all changes are popular but Emily has provided guidance to our clinical leaders in a very professional calm manner. She is detailed and leads the organization with passion for doing the right thing for each patient. Emily has been a nurse for over 15 years and held frontline and nursing leadership positions. Due to her experince, she is an exceptional Clinical Compliance leader that deserves to be recognized for her service. -Callie Wilde
Wanda Peebles Wanda Peebles – Chief Nursing Officer, JPS Health Network (July 23, 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 chief nurse officer, Wanda has worked tirelessly to ensure that her teams and areas are properly protected and staffed safely. From creating and relocating an entirely new ICU COVID 19 unit, to providing employee screening for over 7200 employees overnight, this leader is everything her team need her to be during this crisis. 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. Early on, Wanda realized that sustaining these key areas for an unknown time would require innovation, strategy, and community partnerships. Wanda facilitated training for clinic and non-clinical nurses to work as nurse extenders at the bedside, worked with the city to employ new ways of N95 reuse/sanitization, instituted centralized PPE storage/distribution, and promoted wellness check in’s and resources for nursing staff. During all of this work, Wanda has daily protected time with her leaders to not only disseminate critical information, but to receive feedback and ideas from staff through her director team. Despite the challenges on her time and resources, she writes heartwarming letters of encouragement to the frontline nurses. Because of her leadership, staff have yet to escalate or voice any concerns around their safety and the provision of PPE. Thanks to her careful strategy and stewardship despite the financial hurdles this pandemic brings, not one staff member has been furloughed or laid off. The frontline nurses, and their leaders, know that their CNO is advocating for them at the highest level and never loses sight of them or the patients they are caring for. They know that she shares their unwavering mission to continue to provide safe and quality care to the people of our community. -Krystle Gandhi
It is heart warming to see such an staeadfast example of leadership during such an unprecedented crisis. The staff of JPS and the people of Tarrant County have an overwhelming amount of gratitude for Wanda Peeble's guidance and leadership in their community.
Sharon Gunn Sharon Gunn – Nursing Professonal Development Specialist/CNS, Baylor Scott & White Health (July 23, 2020)
Sharon has been instrumental in developing process for handling and treating COVID patients across the entire system. She has quickly found innovative ways to educate over 10,000 nurse in a matter of days and at times hours on key information relate to PPE and caring for COVID 19 patients. She is a amazing indiviudal who always overcomes any adversity to drive success. Her passion and enthusiasm have helped to keep all of our nurses safe and providing the best quality care. -Alaina Tellson
Maria Fuentes Maria Fuentes – RN, Methodist Hospital | Specialty and Transplant (July 16, 2020)
Maria Fuentes has shown exemplary service through our COVID pandemic. During this challenging time, our team reassigned Maria to the personal protective equipment (PPE) department/team. Her commitment and dedication, has been pivotal to providing supplies to our frontline healthcare workers (HCW). Her attention to detail, communication skills and adaptability, were surmountable to our success. Maria quickly supported, educated, and communicated our processes for implementation. Our frontline health care workers, and I, have recognized her dedication, and commitment to ensuring the proper protective equipment is available to keep frontline HCW’s safe. Maria is a true nursing hero! -Stephanie Martinez
Nelson Tuazon Dr. Nelson Tuazon, DNP, DBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CPHQ, FNAP, FACHE – Vice President and Associate Chief Nursing Officer, University Health System (July 13, 2020)

Nurse Leader Committed to Delivering Superior Patient Care through Education and Nurse Excellence

Dr. Nelson Tuazon, DNP, DBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, CPHQ, FNAP, FACHE, vice president and associate chief nursing officer, knows that as our Health System continues to grow, it is paramount that we maintain a laser-like focus on quality and safety. Dr. Tuazon works collaboratively with teams to enhance preparedness as we manage the COVID-19 pandemic. He continues to change the way University Hospital focuses on quality, through education and nurse excellence, while deepening his commitment to foster a culture of charitable giving and volunteerism. He formed the first San Antonio Nursing Consortium in South Texas. -Sonia Moreno-Rogers

Watch Passion Leads Me with Dr. Nelson Tuazon
Cecilia Alalay Cecilia Alalay – Nursing Director, BSN, MSN, RN, CVRN, CNLM, Houston Methodist Hospital (July 10, 2020)
Cecilia has been instrumental during the 1st and 2nd Covid Surge at HMH medical center. In addition to her 2 medical cardiology floor, she supported another director who was assigned to open a COVID unit on the first wave. She helped facilitate patient throughout and served as a coach and support for the clinical bedside nurse in maintaining the PPE standards application since it was critical for infection control. During the 2nd surge, in the last 2 weeks, Cecil was tasked to convert her 2 current medical cardiology unit to care for more influx of COVID unit. At the same time she was requested by our VP to support the IMU population in caring for high flow Oxygen Covid pts in order to free up space in IMU to support ICU downgrade. Cecil relentlessly provided the leadership support the 3 Covid units in a matter of 2 weeks. She made sure the unit is up and running with staff, supplies and needed Infection control support for staff and patient safety. She deserved to be recognized for all the hard work, long hours and commitment to serve the community. -Rowena Sneathern
Gina Hernandez Gina Hernandez – Directory, Cook Children's Medical Center (July 9, 2020)
Gina Hernandez, director of Nursing Administration, who has been in the Command Center every day since this event began (over 100 days!). Her expertise as a key resource, advisor and decision maker has been invaluable. She has been available for questions and concerns 24/7 and is always open to suggestions. I am so prouid to work with her and love that she has never let her smile and warm heart fade. She is amazing and definitely deserves to be recognized!
G – Great resource, I - Innovator, N - Never giving up, A - Amazing leader
-Morgan Watson
Emergency Management Committee Executive Team, Cook Children's Medical Center (July 9, 2020)
Our Emergency Management Committee Incident Command has worked around the clock from the very early stages of the pandemic to ensure that all patients and staff are safe, have adequate PPE, and are kept informed. They very quickly stood up the command center, developed a dedicated website, and a 24 hour hotline. They have faced this challenge with a smile, never ending support, and kindness. All of this has been under the direction of Kaysey Pollan who has ensured everything has been handled well. Kaysey gives credit to the entire committee but the rotation of incident commanders is what has made our endeavors so successful. The incident commanders include: Debbie Boudreaux, AVP; Stan Davis, COO; Nick Markham AVP, and Jack Sosebee, VP. Gina Hernandez, director of Nursing Admin has been in the command center every day since the event began. The entire home health team made thousands of cloth masks and produced customized face shields for our staff. And finally, the Communications team has worked non-stop to quickly draft and publish all the education that needed to be pushed out to staff and the public with the same positive attitude and collaborative spirit. -Christi Thornhill
I am blessed to work at a facility that lives it's promise and also supports and values every member of their staff. There is no better place to work than Cook Children's Medical Center and this team proves that every day!
Amber Delval Amber Delval – RN Infusion Center Clinical Coordinator, Cook Children's Medical Center (July 9, 2020)
Nurse Deval has tackled the current pandemic crisis with energy and forward thinking actions and attitudes to provide the safest environment for the patients spending time in the infusion center. She has implemented a variety of changes above and beyond the CDC guidelines for her pediatric infusion center area. These changes include a reduction in infusion chairs, appropriate social distancing spacing of the infusion and guests chairs, schedule changes and vigilant assessment of waiting areas and time before infusion center appointments. She has facilitated, on the fly, an overflow unit for infusion that has spared pediatric cancer patients from having to crowd into a space with others and risk infection. this space has also spared her infusion staff from overcrowding. Amber's can do spirit and attitude of what's best for the patient paved the way to make these changes happen efficiently and effectivley. I believe she is a health care hero - leading the way in a unique setting and putting patient safety first!

"Patient Safety always has to come first... and I won't compromise regarding this " Amber Delval RN

Amber has taken the current pandemic situation and met it with energy, flexibility and a dedication to patient safety that is reflected in her quote above. As Infusion Center Clinical Coordinator her responsibilities encompass all the care provided there for a variety of pediatric infusion patients. She has facilitated the following incredible changes:
  • Reducing the number for infusion chairs so that social distancing for patients and one caregiver was actually possible.
  • Insisting on infusion schedule flexibility that decreased wait times in the waiting rooms and time in the infusion space.
  • Meticulous review and planning of infusion schedules to maintain decreased wait times and available chairs.
  • The utilization of a second available space for over flow infusions so that nursing staff patients and caregivers could still receive their important treatments and not be delayed because of covid risk.
  • The staffing of multiple areas for infusions with a staff that is happy and willing to flex and make it happen for the patients and families!
  • The actual provision of necessary chemotherapy to covid positive patients in the outpatient setting.
  • Acting as a positive and supportive leader in a time of frequent questions, chaos and risk!

All these remarkable accomplishments were supported by her team and are continuing to serve the patients that need their treatments through all of this.

For this dedication and thoughtful patient first approach I nominate her for TONL Hero 2020! -Elizabeth Bean
Moore County Nursing Staff All Nursing Staff, Moore County Hospital District (July 3, 2020)
I am nominating our nursing staff here at Moore County Hospital District. We are a rural facility in Dumas Texas we serve a population of 20,940. We are a Critical Access Hospital with 25 beds. We had our first positive patient in the community the last week in March. On April the 10th is when we started seeing the PUI/COVID patients in the ER and started admitting them to our facility. Our nurses pulled extra shifts and some even worked in areas that was not there usual to help us take care of these patients. Moore County Nursing StaffWe had some patients that were very ill and even some that passed away in our facility. Our brave nurses were at the bedsides of these patients holding their hands and letting them know that they were not alone in this journey. While the nurse was at the bedside, another nurse was on the phone with the patient’s family talking to them and explaining what was going on with their loved one. During all of this, they were donning and doffing PPE to protect themselves, their team, family and most importantly other patients that we were encountering. This was time consuming, hot and at times frustrating getting into the PPE, but our nurses never waivered they did what had to be done to help battle COVID and to flatten the curve. We did have some nurses get COVID, fortunately all of them have recovered and came back work and jumped right back in to help take care of our patients. Moore County Nursing StaffOur ER nurses AMAZINGLY none of them has gotten sick through this journey. In addition, these nurses wanted to fill in more so their team could have a day off to help with mental exhaustion. We as every facility had put into place a plan and then 5 minutes, 10minutes or even the next day we were changing the plan. Our nurses dealt with these changes like champions; often they would call their nurse manager and ask what they needed to know before they came to work so they could be abiding by the new plan. We were the first hospital in the panhandle of Texas to have a COVID patient admitted. Our nurses shared with our care partners what had worked well, what struggles we had and most importantly to give encouragement that it does get better to the other nurses in our region. Our nursing staff in our hospital have cared for 142 patients in the ER that are PUI/COVID, we admitted 64 of these patients to our facility, and transferred 31 to higher level of care. Moore County Nursing StaffOur nurses were brave and wanted to care for these patients in their hometown and have given amazing care and have been more empathetic since our patients have not had family at the bedside. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”—Joseph Campbell.

Each and everyone of our nurses is a HERO. They showed up everyday facing the new challenge if what was a new plan or a critical patient. With these challenges they continued to extend compassion, develop hardiness, defiantly learned a lot and we are still learning, and have provided exceptional care to our patients and their families.

I could go on for days about how proud I am of our nursing team and how honored I am to be a leader amongst our heroes. We may be a small rural facility in the Panhandle of Texas but our nurses are compassionate caring warriors.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about our nurses,
Kelly Galloway
Teresa Walding Teresa Walding, BSN, RN. NC-BC – Advent Health (July 2, 2020)
Teresa Walding is to be commended for the highest regard in collegiality. Her work is with her co-workers and physicians in PACU, OR, and Same-Day. Lyn McCright
Teresa is a model of Resilience in her understanding of human nature, thoughts and feelings and collegiality.
Adam Sahyouni Adam Sahyouni – Manager 2South COVID & 6South COVID, Methodist Hospital (July 2, 2020)
I have known Adam Sahyouni for several years when he served as the Charge Nurse in the Cardiovascular ICU; however, I have gotten to know him even more in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and have been incredibly blown away by his passion, dedication and commitment to his staff and patients. When the pandemic started, Adam was asked to serve as the manager at the Methodist Ambulatory Surgical Hospital (MASH) which was going to be converted to our COVID hospital. Throughout operational restructuring and placement of COVID patients, Adam was asked to return to Methodist Hospital to serve as the Manager of the 2South COVID ICU, our first COVID unit. Without hesitation, he jumped right in and took on the challenging assignment of overseeing a unit full of patients with a virus we knew little about and a unit with no dedicated, core staff members—to say he had his work cut out for him was an understatement. He did not let it stop him and he showed up every single day without fail to piece together what is now a very operational, organized, well-staffed, innovative COVID intensive care unit under his amazing leadership. Adam’s ability to develop and maintain relationships landed him a solid, highly-skilled set of nurses begging to return to the unit each shift. Adam was present in 2South every morning at the break of dawn and was still there many times as the 7PM nurses arrived for their shift. There was hardly ever a moment he wasn’t in the nurses station, rounding on his team, or collaborating with infection prevention and physicians. Furthermore, he was up for 4AM staffing calls to ensure his unit had the nurses he needed to provide amazing care to our ever-growing COVID population. Additionally, as we continued to see a rise in COVID cases seeking care at our facility, he was asked to help open the 6South COVID Telemetry unit. Again, he jumped right in with both feet and is now seen in hallways going back and forth between both units to ensure everything is running smoothly and the clinical team has the support they need. When the unit was short-staffed one night, he reverted back to his bedside days and worked alongside all of his team members. Throughout this health crisis he has demonstrated selfless dedication and commitment to serving humanity to honor God and lives the mission of Methodist Healthcare System every day. He has a young daughter at home and continues to also be a great dad along with going to school to obtain his Nurse Practitioner degree. Adam has exemplified what it means to be a true nursing hero during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. -Crissy Womble
Tammy Clements Tammy Clements – Infection Control Employee Health RN, Hereford Regional Medical Center (June 22, 2020)
Tammy has done an exemplary job dealing with this pandemic. She has worked many hours to notify members of our community of their test results and educate the public on quarantining and social distance protocols. She has developed great working relationships with the state epidemiologist and implemented policy and procedures within our organization weeks ahead of the state. She is a wealth of knowledge and a huge asset to HRMC.
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