2006 VA Secretary's Award Winners
Robert D. Smith, HT - Alaska VA Healthcare System & Regional Office
Robert Smith is employed at the Alaska VASHRO in the Outpatient Surgical Clinic as a Health Technician. Highly regarded by all members of the healthcare team, he has high expectations of himself, and is constantly improving his skills and developing new ones to improve patient care. In the course of his duties, he is always scanning the environment for opportunities to streamline processes to improve quality and access to care. His additional training as a Central Sterile Technician provides a knowledge base that he applies to patient flow at the clinic. For example, his attention to changing the linen supply order to reflect current use patterns resulted in considerable dollar savings. He seeks out additional responsibilities and opportunities to serve, such as assisting with training Certified Medical Assistant students and rotating and updating stock in two supply rooms and fourteen exam rooms. Patients frequently remark on his caring and compassionate manner as he completes their clinical reminders, and assures that their needs are met. Active in the local community, Robert also holds a Doctorate of Divinity degree, is Pastor of a local congregation, and volunteers at the Rescue Mission. He was recognized for his work in assisting children to obtain academic scholarships. His Nurse Manager sums it up when she notes him to be “a take charge gentleman with an excellent rapport with veterans - his care and the manner in which he delivers it is nothing short of PHENOMENAL - we are lucky to have a man of Robert's caliber working with us.
Paul Loveric, LPN - Buffalo, NY VAMC
Mr. Paul Loveric LPN, who is assigned to a 25 bed acute medical unit at the Buffalo VAMC, has made steady progress and significant contributions to the care and management of veteran patients. Mr. Loveric is a self-directed, creative, team player who is thorough and customer service focused in his practice.
Mr. Loveric has demonstrated effectiveness in improving the delivery of patient care to Veterans by carrying out the most complex practical nursing care assignments. He frequently volunteers for additional tasks. He is a leader in goal sharing, customer service, and both staff and patient education initiatives.
He is a role model in collaboration with the health care team in providing outstanding care to patients. He has identified opportunities to improve job-related skills and has participated in several performance improvement processes resulting in improvements to skin care procedures, clinical and educational computer applications at a significant cost savings to the medical center.
Co-workers have recognized Mr. Loveric's contributions by awarding him the Safety Employee of the Month Award for his interventions to protect patients as well as several on the spot awards for his care and professionalism in complex problem solving.
David Foley, RN, MSN - VA Healthcare System of Ohio
Mr. David Foley RN, MSN is selected for the 2006 Secretary’s Excellence in Nursing Award. Mr. Foley is a registered nurse at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC, Brecksville Division.
A staff nurse in Long Term Care, Mr. Foley has been an asset to the Restorative Care Program, playing an integral role in its development and implementation. He was responsible for implementing the CARES (Continuing Adult Restorative Exercise and Socialization) Program in long term care.
Mr. Foley is creative and looks for new ways to promote and improve patient care. He was the recipient of the VISN 10 Performance Award for his work on the Culture Change Committee. This prestigious award was based on Mr. Foley’s outstanding nursing practice contributions to the VISN Geriatrics Extended Care Line as Chairperson and the Brecksville’s Center for Restorative and Transitional Care. and the culture change efforts. The Brecksville Culture Change Platform has been a role model for other sites throughout the VISN and nationally, in his role of chairperson of the VISN 10 Culture Change Committee. Specifically, these efforts are centered around the conversion from a Medical Model to a Social-Caring Model of interdisciplinary care to provide culturally specific and veteran-centered care.
Mr. Foley maintains advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification, and is an adjunct faculty member with Cuyahoga Community College and the University of Phoenix for several nursing courses. He demonstrates excellence in direct care nursing practice.
Kathleen Ober, RN, PhD, FNP-BC - San Diego, CA VAMC
Dr. Ober demonstrates leadership in managing population groups and integrated programs that cross services and disciplines. Her VA career has expanded from providing primary care, women’s health care and homeless outreach to developing and coordinating two programs addressing special needs of veterans. She supports the facility’s mission and vision to serve veterans by providing quality care through innovation and resourcefulness. She is valued by her colleagues for her expertise, work ethic and excellent clinical knowledge as demonstrated by her management of a panel of complex primary care patients and as the local Coordinators for Nurse Practitioner Practice.
Her expertise and interest in helping veterans achieve wellness and fitness led her to volunteer to be an integral part of the local pilot on Managing Overweight and Obese Veterans Everywhere! (MOVE!) Program. She is an active participant and leader in the continued expansion of the MOVE! Program.
Dr. Ober collaborates with other healthcare providers at the VA National Center of Prevention and other VA sites who are participating in the pilot. She also serves as a member of the facility’s Pharmacy & Therapeutics and Drug Evaluation Use Evaluation/Medical safety Committees and is co-chair of the local Nurse Professional Standards Board.
Since Dr. Ober came to the San Diego VA Medical Center in 1995, her interest in providing a health promotion program for veterans with arthritis resulted in an innovative arthritis exercise program, which has grown over the past five years. In addition, she finds time to volunteer for the San Diego Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation as a lecturer for both the land and water exercise programs. Dr. Ober is an exemplary nurse practitioner who is respected by colleagues for her dedication and commitment in serving the healthcare needs of America’s veterans.
Lizabeth M. Weiss, RN, BSN, MSN, CNA, BC - Buffalo, NY VAMC
Ms. Weiss was actively involved in the development and recognition of the Nurse Manager Core Curriculum recently featured in a press release of the Nursing Innovations Database. The Core Curriculum was recognized by the New York State Organization of Nurse Executives as a best practice. It has been accepted and utilized throughout VA to orient and educate new nurse managers and as a reference guide for aspiring nurse leaders.
Ms. Weiss participates in community health career fairs, holds meetings in the facility and provides student opportunities at the Buffalo and Batavia VAMCs. Students from up to post graduate levels at sixty six affiliated schools for healthcare professionals utilized the VA as a clinical site.
She is an active mentor for interns and new nurse managers among others. She sponsors nursing students through the VALOR Program and participates in PRIME for educational development of Nurse Practitioners.
Ms. Weiss is a board certified nursing administrator and a member of the New York Nurses Association. She functions as the Chairperson on her facility’s Human Resources Committee which has implemented a local mentoring program. Ms. Weiss has been named Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute, received the Manager of the Year Award from the Federal Executive Board and been the recipient of the VHA Customer Service Innovations Award. She has received Congressional recognition and Erie County Executive recognition for her leadership skills.
Joseph Williams, Jr., RN, BSN, MPH - Hampton, VA VAMC
Hampton VA Medical Center’s nursing program has been enhanced under the leadership of Mr. Williams. He avails himself locally and on VISN and national levels not only to facilitate but to actively participate in the incorporation of contemporary nursing practice throughout the facility and VHA. He consistently provides vital input on critical issues impacting nursing care delivery. He promotes a stronger nurse retention and recruitment at Hampton VA Medical Center allocating resources including: a nurse recruiter with office space, additional nurse educators, space to support a new employee orientation, and an administrative/technology support position to monitor progress.
Mr. Williams has solidified the role of Nurse Executive. Nursing leadership has strengthened mainly due to the collaborative climate he has fostered. As a prior Acting Associate Director within VHA, Mr. Williams recognizes the importance of administrative support to the direct care giver to effectively meet patient care needs. He has given full support to the facility’s participation in National Education Programs such as VALOR, NNEI and VANEEP. In addition he has increased student nurse technician positions with the medical center to allow students the opportunity to expand their clinical experience before seeking employment. Mr. Williams holds a valid nursing license. He takes every opportunity to speak on the traditional and non-traditional role of nursing. His commitment to advancing nursing and nursing programs is consistently demonstrated by his involvement and his encouragement of nursing staff.