URMC Board Recognizes Outstanding Staff Achievements

9 Individuals, 4 Teams Honored for Excellence

January 28, 2015

Nine individuals and four teams were honored by the University of Rochester Medical Center Board on Jan. 20 for their steadfast personal and professional dedication to delivering a patient care experience that demonstrates integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.

Board Chair George Hamlin presented the 2014 Board Excellence Awards to some of the institution’s most exceptional employees during the Board’s annual meeting on Tuesday. These awards are among the highest honors given at the Medical Center, and are the only institution-wide awards whose winners span URMC’s divisions, including Strong Memorial Hospital, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, the School of Nursing, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Individual Awards

For the most recent fiscal year, Board Excellence Award for Administration winner Maureen Magee, manager, Patient Accounts Data Control and her teams have assured the timely posting of more than $1.2 billion in payments, representing a staggering 2.6 billion individual transactions. In addressing the rapidly increasing volumes and changes directly affecting the payment and processes that run through the department, Magee is a role model for her staff and her peers in her focus on continuous improvement. She ensures that the work in her department is done conscientiously and in a timely manner while she’s always mindful of recognizing individual, staff and team efforts. But perhaps the best description of Magee’s accomplishments comes from the words of her own staff. “Maureen is by far one of the best managers. She is always willing to help anyone that needs help and is kind and thoughtful. Maureen makes me want to come to work every day. Her door is always open to us.”

Aretha Gordon, the winner of the Board Excellence Award for Clerical, acts as the “Welcome Wagon” for patients and staff alike. Shining Star comments from patients pour in for Gordon, an Orthopaedics outpatient access specialist at Clinton Crossing.  “Friendly, kind, and excellent” are words that are repeated over and over again by those who benefit from her warmth and competence. She is part of an area where there are many permanent and temporary staff, often in rotation, and she makes everyone feel like they are important members of the team. Gordon regularly goes above and beyond her job description to make patients feel comfortable in an often stressful time and her sense of compassion assures that they leave her desk with a smile.

The individual Board Excellence Award in the Clinical category went to Jessica Biondi, MS, CCLS, child life specialist in Pediatrics. “Let’s have a prom!” is not an idea you hear every day around a medical center, but it’s one that has come to mean the world to a group of former adolescent patients mentored by Biondi. Over the past three years she has steadfastly and independently developed the Council for Adolescent Voices and Experiences (CAVE). This online-based group consists of dozens of current and former patients who meet weekly to provide support to one another and provide insight into life in the hospital from the patient perspective. It was out of CAVE that the idea for a prom emerged. Many young patients miss out on big life events because of their illnesses and hospitalizations. Hosting a prom gives them the opportunity to dress up and experience a special milestone event. Biondi and a team of volunteers nurtured the idea into an annual occurrence. The community has embraced the prom and donations pour in, giving teen patients the time of their lives at a magical event.

In her role as administrator for Faculty Affairs, Eastman Institute for Oral Health (EIOH) Board Excellence Award winner, Sue Gibbs, embodies the phrase “to go above and beyond.” Her energy, strong work ethic, and uncanny ability to manage the multiple changing priorities of a large division with more than 300 full-time, part-time, and volunteer faculty is truly remarkable. Gibbs continuously strives for excellence and has been extremely successful in streamlining processes as well as coordinating and expediting several high-level faculty recruitments.  Faculty, students, residents, and staff all count on her and respect her.  Known for her commitment to EIOH and to a high standard of excellence, her natural customer service skills are most visible in her warmth and compassion.

Board Excellence Award winner in Nursing, Mark Ott, MS, RN, NEA-BC, director for the Center for Nursing Quality, Safety and Patient Outcomes, works diligently to ensure exceptional patient care. In 2014, Ott, took the lead on two significant projects: New York State Severe Sepsis/Septic Shock Reporting and Patient Influenza Vaccination Improvement. He was a driving force, working with a multidisciplinary team, for the development of the adult sepsis bundle—a series of steps to ensure best practices in the early detection and treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock. This year Ott helped take URMC a step further, developing and coordinating the efforts to submit the required data to the state to contribute toward the state-wide effort to improve outcomes. Ott also convened an interdisciplinary team to develop a system approach to help improve patient influenza vaccination and its documentation with a goal of boosting patient vaccination rates—an important patient safety and performance measure. Ott’s efforts strongly enhance quality of care and help ensure the health and safety of patients.

Matt Miller, M.D. associate medical director of Perioperative Services, acknowledged as the Board Excellence Award recipient in the physician category, is known for his commitment to excellence and his drive to keep improving the culture of safety in the operating room. He has taken the lead to examine the patient journey through perioperative services to find out how to improve that experience. Over the past year, he worked to develop a Perioperative Checklist using the World Health Organization model as well as to develop an Invasive Plan of Care in the institution’s electronic medical record system. To do each of these, he met with his colleagues, collected their input and piloted these tools to facilitate communication among team members. Both the Perioperative Checklist and Invasive Plan of Care ensure that the finest safety checks are in place and that caregivers have electronic access to the information they need to provide the highest quality of care before, during, and after surgery. 

Team Awards

Implementation of nurse-led daily rounds is making a significant impact on patient care thanks to the Board Excellence Award-winning team, the Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit.  Introduced by Manjunath Markandaya, M.D. and created by nurse Catherine Gargan, RN, CNRN, the switch from physician-led rounds in the Neuromedicine ICU seemed like a natural transition. This change puts nurses, who are front-line caregivers, with the most up-to-date information on their patients in the lead during rounding. The nurse presents the patient to the residents, fellows, and physicians who are involved and often includes the pharmacist, respiratory therapist, and dietitian as well. Families are also welcome on rounds and they are grateful to be part of the process where they learn more about the care of loved ones and have an opportunity to ask questions of the entire care team. Rounds are more efficient under this new team approach and satisfaction scores for this critical care setting are higher.

A second team Board Excellence Award was presented to the Specialty Pharmacy, Oncology Team. Managing medication for the treatment of cancer is changing. Patients who used to only have the options for on-site infusions now have the opportunity to use outpatient oral therapies, much like other take-home prescriptions. Because these medications are so potent and expensive, they require a “specialty pharmacy” to fill and manage their use, which has previously been limited to a few mail order services. But in 2014 URMC launched a new program comprised of a Specialty Pharmacy team in Oncology. The team consists of clinically-trained pharmacists and advanced care technicians who make it possible for URMC patients to obtain their medications locally—right in the Wilmot Cancer Center—which improves medication safety and quality of care. The team can also help patients with financial needs by giving them better access to manufacturer programs and financial assistance resources. To date, the Strong Specialty Pharmacy Program has provided services to more than 175 Wilmot Cancer Institute patients. Revenue generated by the Specialty Pharmacy program has also been valuable in providing the resources needed to grow and expand services to all of our cancer patients across multiple sites in the community and the region.

The Radiation Safety Unit (RSU) Team was also recognized with a team Board Excellence Award. Radiation is a powerful tool but has great risks and side effects. The Radiation Safety Unit has been instrumental in championing for both patient and staff safety. Over the past several years, important changes have been adopted by the Radiology staff as a result of efforts championed by the Safety Unit.  For one example, the total radiation dose to staff was reduced by 80 percent over the past four years. The RSU team works with staff to better understand protocol design and radiation risks when new studies are introduced. They also hold in-house training seminars on radiation safety. They’ve promoted almost universal use of leaded eye protection in radiology and the regular use of additional personal shields. The team also made software and procedural changes in radiation oncology that lowered annual dose limits for staff to international standards, along with implementing a nationally recognized radiological safety program.

The final Board Excellence Award in the team category went to the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) Team. Residents of upstate New York – often in their 80s or 90s – once had to travel long distances for TAVI. The procedure treats severe aortic stenosis, which narrows the aortic valve and obstructs bloodflow from the heart, without the risks of open heart surgery and anesthesia. Under the direction of Cardiology’s Frederick S. Ling, M.D., this impressive group of physicians, nurses, technicians, and others has not only brought this service to our region, but developed it into one of the largest programs in the State. The TAVI Program exemplifies how teamwork across medicine, surgery, anesthesia, nursing, and specialty areas can create a unique service that benefits patients. This team epitomizes all the best in UR Medicine’s medical care, cross-discipline cooperation, and education in regional health care.

Robert Joynt Kindness Award Recipients

The Dr. Robert Joynt Kindness Awards are presented in honor of a beloved member of the Medical Center community and a towering figure in international circles of neurology.  Joynt was known for his integrity, wit, generosity, and his unconditional kindness. He demonstrated an inspirational level of compassion in his work and the awards honor his life and the example he set.

John Andolina, M.D., recipient of the Joynt Kindness Award for a physician, is a role model to generations of medical students, residents, and team members who ultimately chose careers in Primary Care with Andolina as their role model. As a second year resident, Stephen Judge, M.D., was awed by the kindness with which Andolina treated him and his patients—a major factor in Judge’s decision to practice Primary Care medicine at the University of Rochester. Betty Rabinowitz, M.D., who has practiced with him for some 25 years, notes that Andolina approaches each and every patient on each and every day with unparalleled kindness and compassion. Andolina also receives the highest patient satisfaction scores. He is never too busy to take a call and it’s never too late for him to make a visit to the hospital or even a home—that is the Andolina standard of care.

Joynt Kindess Award Winner in the Nurse category, Elizabeth Mayewski, RN, BSN, is a Medical Intensive Care nurse whose kindness and caring stands out and leaves a lasting impression—even long after patients and families leave the hospital. She makes sure families feel informed and safe when loved ones are in her care. Mayewski has been known to call after her shift to check on her patients and has even followed them to another unit as their recoveries progress.  Patients in this unit are often so sick that they need to be sedated, or they might be anxious about what’s happening to them. Mayewski takes special care to explain what is going on and focuses on keeping everyone calm and secure, serving as a wonderful example of a caring and compassionate nurse.

Joynt Kindess Award Winner Kamaran Moss from the Solid Organ Transplant Unit greets visitors with a bubbly voice and genuine inquiry about how they are doing or how their day is going. Moss is a Student Patient Safety Assistant through the Teen Health and Success Partnership Program, which brings Rochester youth in to the hospital to develop skills and experience for their future. For more than two years, he’s helped make transplant patients and their families’ stay a little brighter by assisting patient care techs with the little extras. He talks to families, straightens up rooms, and sometimes reads to patients and assists with meals. Moss is a true customer service expert and is lauded by his peers as the most personable, kindhearted, compassionate, and fun-loving person, whom patients and families absolutely love and adore. The relationships he develops with them are like no other and he has a collection of Strong Stars touting their gratitude. 

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