In what Porter Regional Hospital’s lead nursing educator called “The Oscars of Nursing,” the hospital awarded seven honors to local nurses or aids and recognized dozens of their peer nominees at the organization’s annual National Nurses Week Awards & Recognition Ceremony Thursday. The room was filled with emotion, laughter, cheering, and even a heart-felt tear or two for the nurses who care for patients, comfort them, save lives, and give back to their communities.
“Today we are recognizing all nurses at Porter for their dedication to quality patient care and nursing professionalism. We are very excited to convey seven special awards that are the culmination of excellence in nursing over this past year,” said Debra Polster, chair of the nurses’ week committee and Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development at Porter Regional Hospital.
“We are here to honor you. You are the backbone of healthcare, and without the nursing structure of this facility we would not be able to take care of patients at our hospital,” said Sean Dardeu, Market CEO for Porter Health Care System. “I do not lose sleep when I leave here at night. Thank you for everything you do.”
The top honor, The Daisy Award, was bestowed to Bethany Dubach, a clinical nurse on the intensive care unit. Dubach was nominated for her unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality care to some of the hospital’s sickest patients, all the while working to support and elevate the level of care provided by her fellow nurses, and ensuring that patient families are always well supported and comfortable.
The Shared Governance Excellence Award went to Taryn Barrow, a charge nurse on the medical-surgical unit. In addition to being patient, kind, and a thoughtful leader, Barrow was recognized for her commitment to guiding new nurses as a preceptor, and for excellence in her case study presentation: “Civility in Nursing – How Are We Doing?”
Melissa Peloquin, clinical manager of the medical-surgical units at Porter Regional Hospital, received the Nursing Leadership Award. Her nomination told stories of how she was able to help a violent patient become calm by walking with them in the hallways, and how she is always one of the first to volunteer for hospital activities in the community. “Melissa embodies what we want our leaders to be: mindful, present, passionate, and engaging in our lives,” the nomination read.
The Spirit Award for Rookie of the Year went to Alicia Holzer, a clinical nurse on the medical-surgical unit. Since joining the hospital staff in 2018, Holzer became a preceptor for other nurses in only six months, and was described by her peers as humble, resourceful and very encouraging.
Tiffany Bowser, the hospital’s stroke coordinator, received the Educator Award for excellence in providing stroke care and prevention to the hospital and the community. Bowser was credited with being the glue that keeps the stroke team in constant sync to provide the best possible care for patients in scenarios when immediate action has lifelong implications.
Neville Mannington, a unit assistant on the third floor at Porter Regional Hospital, received the Pay It Forward certificate in recognition of the support he provides to the nursing team and patients as a whole. Mannington was described as the one patients always love, for his calm demeanor, and special attention to patient safety.
The theme of the celebratory week was “Nursing: Remembering our Why.” Judy Davidson, Chief nursing officer at Porter Regional Hospital, shared that she became a nurse after seeing her mother through a difficult cancer diagnosis.
“I’m very proud of the work we do every day here at Porter. Nursing is not an easy job. I think it’s very important when we have our hard weeks or those rough days that we remember our why. It will keep us grounded and bring us back to providing the best care every time. I know that the care we give is the same care I would have wanted for my mom,” Davidson said.
James Leonard, D.O., Market Chief Medical Officer for Porter Health Care System, shared a personal story about one of the first moments he realized the impact nurses have on patient care.
“It was the first night of call of my first month and my first year of residency. I’m scared to death. I have my pager. I’m laying in the call bed, staring at the ceiling,” Leonard said, painting the picture. The call came. It was the head of the cardiology department, telling him he needed to deliver care to a patient in the ER who would potentially die.
“I hung up, and the first words out of my mouth were: where’s Peggy,” Leonard said of the nurse who would be working with him on the case. “She helped me through it. She carried me through it. She carried that patient, not me. She took the academics and what’s on paper, and she put it to real life. That was my first real experience, and I’ll never forget it,” Leonard said. “I have so many memories and so many experiences where I have absolute faith and immense respect in the nursing staff. On behalf all off of the physicians here, thank you for all that you do.”
Before the awards on Thursday, audience members also heard inspirational stories from nurse presenters and others who illustrated the daily impact nurses have on whole communities. Cara Hulse, an intermediate care unit charge coordinator at Porter, presented the missionary work that many Porter nurses do in countries where basic healthcare is not accessible. Kelli Box, a medical-surgical clinical nurse educator, reflected on her “why,” and asked for a show of hands for everyone who had held a new life, held a hand during end of life, delivered a hug, and saved a life. By the end of her comments, everyone in the room had raised a hand.
Amelia Kowalisyn, the founder and president of Emma’s Footprints, detailed her heart-felt experience with the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses who took care of her four children at Porter Regional Hospital. Her beloved daughter, Emma, passed away at 23 weeks, and Emma’s Footprints was born in her honor and memory to support NICU parents and babies, and grieving families who have lost a baby or pregnancy. During nurses’ week, Porter nurses hosted a penny wars competition with proceeds benefiting Emma’s Footprints.
“These nurses are like family to us. They’re absolutely amazing,” Kowalisyn said. “I thank you all for your generosity and your kindness, and for everything that Porter has done for our families through the years.”
For more information about becoming a nurse at Porter Regional Hospital, visit the available opportunities at https://www.porterhealth.com/career-opportunities.