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Office of Nursing Services (ONS)

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2016 Secretary's Awards

Every year VA Secretary Robert McDonald hosts an “Excellence in Nursing” award to recognize the outstanding work of VA staff who play a vital role in providing and supporting nursing practice and care to Veterans. This year’s awardees are honored for compassionate care, contributions at the national level, improvements in nursing practice through education and training, and support for expanded nursing responsibilities.

Linda Gibson

Nurse Assistant: Linda Gibson from the Iliana VA Health Care System

Gibson is an outstanding staff member and particularly skilled with the care of elderly residents, addressing patients with dignity and respect, and promoting a therapeutic environment. She is observant to the smallest of changes and offers valuable information regarding changes in the Veteran’s physical and behavioral conditions. Gibson is a true advocate for Veterans, providing a strong voice for them, ensuring their rights are maintained, their opinions are valued, and that they are treated with respect. She takes pride in the appearance and comfort of Veterans and her integrity in caring for Veterans is evident on a daily basis in her work.

Arlene Imes

Licensed Practical Nurse: Arlene Imes from the W.G. Heffner VA Medical Center, Salisbury, N.C.

Imes is highly regarded by her peers who say she is willing to go the extra mile to assist those who need care. She was instrumental and worked diligently to help the LPN Telehealth Clinical Technicians develop a functional statement that now provides them with the opportunity for demonstration of competency in their skill sets. She received the VA Certificate of Pride in Public Service Award in recognition and appreciation for her personal commitment and dedication to patients. Through her participation in the Leadership Development Program, Imes’ Action Learning Project focused on how Veterans receive information and how they prefer to receive information according to their era of service. The knowledge and insights derived from the Veterans who responded will be used by staff to provide information to Veterans.

Gerard Hannibal

Registered Nurse: Gerard Hannibal, Progressive Care Unit, Cleveland VA Medical Center

In the Progressive Care Unit, Hannibal collaborated with nursing management, pharmacy, physicians, information technology, nursing staff, patients and families to implement an evidence-based protocol to reduce phlebitis on the PCU. At the national level, Hannibal designed, developed and presented three educational sessions for the National Conference of Progressive Care Pathways. He published several articles, including one entitled “Cardiac Monitoring Revisited” in the Journal AACN Advanced Critical Care which shared best practices for cardiac Hannibal demonstrates supremely compassionate care for Veterans and advocates on their behalf through his efforts.

Stefanie Coffey

Registered Nurse in an Expanded Role: Dr. Stefanie Coffey, Roseburg VA Medical Center

Dr. Coffey is the Associate Chief Nurse Executive of Ambulatory Care at VA Roseburg, Oregon, When Dr. Coffey identifies a need, she institutes a plan to accomplish it, taking into consideration those impacted by each element of the decision. She engages all stakeholders to ensure their voices are heard and everyone is on the same page. She is able to get interdisciplinary team members on board to assist with needed changes and improvements. Dr. Coffey encouraged and assisted her Nurse Managers to write grants for the Office for Rural Health including Home Telehealth, Home Based Primary Care (HBPC), Caregiver Support and Hospice and Palliative Care. Her efforts increased access to care evidenced by a doubling in HBPC enrollment.

Alan Bernstein

Nurse Executive: Alan Bernstein, Associate Director for Patient Care Services, North Texas VA Health Care

Bernstein, recently appointed VA’s Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, shares a vision of nursing excellence, patient safety, and Veteran-centered care in the advancement of nursing practice. Under his leadership he re-organized nursing service positions to align with the terminology of other services to enable Associate Chief Nurses to be recognized as Chief Nurses. He also proactively incorporated significant changes in facility design plans to accommodate obese patients, bedside charting, and on stage/off stage ambulatory care. He changed the daily “Nursing Report” to “Clinical Report,” resulting in the inclusion of staff from quality, safety value, the Chief of Staff, and all clinical services, allowing the multidisciplinary team to discuss how each area would be impacted by an anticipated change.

Kaye Green

Advancement of Nursing Programs: Medical Center Director Kaye Green, VA Medical Center, Salisbury NC

Director Green had a goal of establishing a nursing program that would be defined by professional excellence, guided by the precepts of shared governance, evidence based practice and VA’s “I CARE” values. She committed clinical, financial and human resources and committed countless hours of her time to meet with nursing leadership, nurses and Veterans and their families. Green recognized the need to invest in the education of the nursing staff and commissioned a facility education department with the goal of preparing professional nursing staff to succeed in their roles and to better equip them to operate within the existing and future challenges of the VHA health care system. It is through her commitment to nursing education that the Salisbury VAMC is recognized for its increasingly healthy, evidence-based nursing practice.