Strong Nurses Celebrate Excellence Awards to be Presented as Part of Nursing Week, May 6 - 12

May 08, 1998

Karen Boczar, R.N., made a mid-life decision to become a nurse because, as she says, she "wanted a profession that would let me give something back to others." So she quit her job at Occidental Chemical outside of Buffalo and got a degree in Nursing. She never imagined that after little more than a month of working as a Strong Memorial Hospital nurse the tables would be turned and she would put her very life in the hands of her new nursing colleagues.

"I went to work at Strong on May 12th of last year," Boczar said. "And, on June 27th I was diagnosed with breast cancer." Boczar soon underwent an excisional biopsy and node dissection at Strong Memorial Hospital and found herself recovering on the Hospital's 6-1600 general surgery floor, the same unit on which she had worked as a nurse. The warmth and caring she experienced there led her to nominate her colleagues for Strong Memorial's 1998 Patient Care Award, the Hospital's honor for nursing excellence. "I had no qualms about being hospitalized in my workplace. In fact, it was wonderful," she said. "No matter how sick I got, the staff went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and at ease."

According to Boczar, that same caring support continued even after she returned to work while undergoing follow-up radiation and chemotherapy treatments. "When my hair fell out and I resorted to wearing a hat to work, they had a 'hat day' where they too showed up wearing hats," she said. A letter to the Hospital's nursing leaders nominating the staff of 6-1600 for a Patient Care Award was Boczar's way of expressing her gratitude. "My illness gave me the opportunity to let these nurses know that they touch peoples' lives and make a difference."

Boczar will officially present the award to the nurses of 6-1600 at a Recognition Celebration on Tuesday, May 12th at 2:00 p.m. in the cafeteria's north end. It will be one of three Patient Care Awards among a total of twelve awards for nursing excellence presented by the Hospital as part of National Nurses' Week. Patient Care Awards are based on accolades received by patients while the rest of the awards are based on nominations from the entire nursing staff.

"These awards are presented to nurses who far exceed the expectations of their patients and fellow nurses," said Patricia Witzel, R.N. senior director of Nursing Practice at Strong Memorial Hospital. "They are one of the ways we celebrate the remarkable impact nurses have on the healing process."

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Teri D'Agostino
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