AHA Names URMC Faculty Members “Women of Distinction”

May. 13, 2010
Go Red for Women inaugural award honors Quinn, Velarde for cardiac-related work

Two University of Rochester Medical Center faculty members have been honored by the American Heart Association with the inaugural Go Red for Women “Woman of Distinction” Award for their commitment to raising awareness about cardiovascular health among women and empowering them to live longer, stronger lives.

Jill Quinn, Ph.D., R.N., CS-ANP, assistant professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, and Gladys Velarde, M.D., associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at URMC, were recognized Thursday at the seventh annual Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Rochester Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.

Quinn was honored with the AHA Woman of Distinction Award in the category of Education, Nonprofit and Community/Civic Service.

In 1979, she received her master’s degree from the University of Rochester School of Nursing and began working as a nurse practitioner caring for cardiac patients and their families. She was one of the first NPs working in acute care as a member of the cardiothoracic team at Strong Memorial Hospital. Since then, she has worked with interventional cardiology, clinical cardiology and, most recently, with heart failure provider services at Strong.Quinn also earned her doctoral degree from the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Her dissertation involved working with those who experienced heart attacks. She observed that about 90 percent of the people she interviewed had contacted a family member before they ever placed a call to emergency services. This motivated her to explore the role of caregivers in recognizing new or worsening symptoms and knowing when to seek care.

In 2008, Quinn received a four-year AHA National Scientist Development Grant to research how four factors – symptom perception, depression, quality-of-life perception and the influence of family caregivers – impact a patient’s ability to identify symptoms and decide to seek medical care. Quinn’s goal is helping patients and family caregivers recognize worsening symptoms before they require hospitalization. As an assistant professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Quinn teaches graduate students in the master’s and doctoral programs, preparing them for success in the field of cardiovascular care and research. A member of the AHA and Cardiovascular Nursing Council since 1982, she was elected an AHA fellow in 2007. Locally, she is an active member of the AHA’s Health Site Education Committee, which organizes and presents educational programs for health care professionals and the community. These programs address preventive care and illness management issues related to heart disease.

Velarde, who joined the University of Rochester Medical Center faculty in 1998, received the AHA Woman of Distinction Award in the category of Business, Industry and Health Care.

As founder/director of URMC’s Strong Women’s Heart Program, Velarde shows her passion about women’s health, committed to the prevention, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of patients who are at risk for or have heart disease. As a bilingual health provider, she offers culturally sensitive and gender-specific advice regarding treatment and prevention of heart disease.

Velarde is director of the Vidasana (“health living”) Community Health Program, a volunteer corps of medical students, residents, fellows and nurses who conduct health screenings in minority church communities and educate about risk factors for heart disease and stroke. She also leads the Women’s Heart Program team in conducting frequent, detailed screenings that include counseling for minority communities.

She coordinates annual professional symposiums featuring international leaders in heart disease in women and minorities, in addition to lecturing extensively to providers in an effort to advance women’s heart care throughout western New York.

An advocate for recognizing the ways in which heart disease varies by population, Velarde’s research efforts target issues unique to women. She is principal investigator of the PINK study, the first women-only study to look at metabolic syndrome and examine the behavior of blood markers that may predispose them to bad cardiovascular outcomes.

In 2007, Velarde was cited by the National Hispanic Medical Association, earning a Hispanic Health Leadership Award, as well as being honored locally by the Ibero-American Action League Inc. and the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency for her commitment to improving health care for Hispanics and the underserved.