Patient Care

Medical Center Board Honors Top Staff with 2015 Excellence Awards

Jan. 26, 2016
Individuals and Teams Recognized for Outstanding Care

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 Susan Holliday presented the 2015 Board Excellence Awards to some of the institution’s most exceptional employees during the Board’s annual meeting on January 19. These awards are among the highest honors given, and are the only institution-wide awards honoring staff members working within the Medical Center’s many divisions.

Individual Awards

As a lead Service representative in the Eastman Institute of Oral Health’s Pediatric Department, Bethany Lindsey welcomes the children and their parents arriving at the Eastman Institute of Oral Health (EIOH) for care with a cheerful smile and ebullient efficiency. While Lindsey is registering the patient, she is multitasking: assessing the patient and parents’ concerns, their level of nervousness, and the patient’s possible challenges as she is obtaining necessary information and keeping the schedule moving. Among Lindsey’s personal attributes are her ever-present smile, friendly communication skills, and the ability to put everyone at ease even in the face of stressful procedures. The clinic typically receives 75 to 100 referrals each month from as far away as the Pennsylvania border. The children often have complex medical conditions or developmental issues in addition to rampant—that is, full mouth—tooth decay. Many cases must be corrected in surgery or under sedation. Lindsey established a closed-ended process for reaching out the families to set up appointments to minimize their trips to due to the distance they travel. She is instrumental in getting these children the dental care they need while supervising other EIOH service representatives. In addition, Lindsey instituted a callback list to follow up on missed appointments so the children get the dental and oral health care they so desperately need.

Noemi Osbourne, outpatient access specialist in Radiation Oncology at the Wilmot Cancer Center, is known by everyone as a great advocate for patients. She sets and controls Radiation Oncology schedules for physicians and residents, often juggling appointments with numerous medical disciplines. She puts tremendous effort into consolidating multiple appointments into a minimal number of trips to reduce the demand on patients who travel to receive treatment. Osbourne led a team focused on simplifying scheduling for Stereotactic Radiosurgeries in conjunction with Neurosurgery, Medical Oncology, and Medical Imaging. She also was instrumental in reducing the time required for insurance authorization and minimizing wait time for patients receiving treatment. In her spare time, Osbourne frequently leads committees and community outreach projects for Wilmot cancer patients.

In the Nursing category, Margaret (Meg) Blaney, R.N., B.S.N., assistant nurse manager and quality management supervisor in the Outpatient Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Office, manages, mentors, and develops five registered nurse coordinators in the Blood and Marrow Transplant team, and is always leading by example. Blaney is a leader within her team, teaching a survivorship lecture for blood and marrow transplant certification, coaching and counseling new hires, and she has recently provided crucial training for ambulatory infusion nurses when they moved to a new location. In 2015, Blaney was instrumental in ensuring her team met the requirements of the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapies, as well as maintaining their designation as a Center of Excellence with CIGNA, Aetna, Excellus, and Interlink. All of Blaney’s education, accreditation, and quality activities are in addition to voluntarily carrying a full clinical care patient load.

In the Clinical category, Timothy Jensen, P.A., a physician’s assistant on WCC 5 in the Wilmot Cancer Center, was described as a role model of inclusive team-centered patient care, always asking for nurse input during rounds and eliminating any barriers between providers and nurses. Jensen selflessly volunteers to assist in crises, even when he is not on deck to do so. Night shift providers are not required to round at a specific time—they respond to patient situations when called in by the nursing staff. However, when Jensen is on night duty, he proactively rounds on the unit, soliciting input from the nurses, and making sure that their concerns about patients are heard and acted upon. Tim’s conscientiousness in seeking feedback and encouraging team effort is greatly appreciated everyone on the unit, which benefits from his daily demonstrations of  professionalism in health care.

The individual Excellence Award for the Physician category honored David Lambert, M.D. Lambert is a senior associate dean for the Office for Medical Education and practices in the Department of Medicine. Lambert successfully guided the medical school’s reaccreditation in 2015 with the Liaison Committee on Medication Education, which is the federally recognized authority for medical education. As he prepared for the reaccreditation, Lambert worked closely with numerous individuals and groups, creating a schedule, overseeing the groundwork, and monitoring progress to ensure a successful outcome. The medical school’s preparedness was due solely to his attention to detail and commitment to excellence. Lambert also spearheaded implementing an iPad program for medical students, making URMC one of the first in the nation to incorporate this technology. He is the catalyst behind improvements in our medical education program, which attracts top students to the Medical Center.

In the Administrative category, Pat Reagan Webster, Ph.D., CPPS, is the Medical Center’s Associate Quality Officer and embodies the University’s motto “Meliora,” tirelessly driving our quality and safety practices to be “ever better.” Reagan Webster is the force behind our Unit-based Performance Program, known as UPP. In pursuing this program to improve quality at the unit level, Reagan Webster created customized online training for all staff on the concepts of UPP, matched coaches to units, and launched the program in partnership with the Unit Nurse Manager and Unit Medical Director. The program has helped reduce the instances of hospital-acquired conditions like central line-associated blood stream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and C. diff, thanks to her collaborative and inclusive management style. The success of UPP is directly attributable to Reagan Webster’s unflagging efforts in supporting teams with education, resources, and motivation. Most recently, Reagan Webster recognized an opportunity to elevate our institution. She coordinated an award application on a tight deadline for the American Hospital Association McKesson Quest for Quality Prize®.

Robert Joynt Kindness Awards

The Dr. Robert Joynt Kindness Awards are presented each year to honor the late physician, who was a beloved member of the Medical Center community and a distinguished pioneer in international neurology. Joynt, who passed away in 2012, was known for his integrity, wit, generosity and his unconditional kindness. The recipients of these awards mirror Joynt’s inspirational level of compassion in their work.

Megan Churchill, a medical secretary in the Department of OBGYN-Maternal Fetal Medicine at Strong Perinatal Associates, has earned a galaxy of Strong Stars for her sensitive, caring, and holistic approach to her work. She’s known to go the extra mile every day, with numerous examples demonstrating her commitment to her patients. In a recent instance, a late-pregnancy patient presented with a fetal airway complication that would require urgent intervention at birth. Churchill spent hours on the phone with the referring hospital to get critical imaging studies overnighted to the pediatric team – and she did that twice after the first set arrived damaged. When another patient delivered unexpectedly in a distant city over the weekend, Churchill called the patient and provider on Monday morning, making sure that they had proper records for both mom and baby. In another instance, a patient requiring a 24-hour urine collection forgot her supplies and Churchill drove an hour out of her way to drop the supplies at the woman’s home so that the testing could be completed as scheduled. Churchill’s kindness and concern for the details of caring for her patients runs deep and epitomizes URMC’s ICARE values.

Nurse manager Tina Blanchard, RN, from the Solid Organ Transplant Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, is a peer leader, mother hen to her staff, and the driving force on the unit where she has worked since 2009. The embodiment of kindness, she puts everyone’s needs before her own. Blanchard’s approachability, her “go to” experience, and knowledge give the entire staff someone to rely on for whatever they need. When a patient or their family has questions or concerns, Blanchard puts everything aside and talks with them as if they are the only people in the world. If short on staff, Blanchard willingly stays as long as needed to provide support and coverage for the unit without complaint.

Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., distinguishes his career with exceptional kindness and dedication in three important areas: as a colleague, as a care provider, and as an advocate for the Heart Failure and Transplantation Program where he works at Strong Memorial Hospital. Chen treats team members with the utmost respect and regards them all as vital contributors to the program’s continued success. His graciousness and appreciativeness of every employee is genuine and noticeable. Patients and their families describe Chen’s personal touch as one of kindness and compassion. The patients feel his caring at every visit and leave with the confidence that they are truly receiving “medicine of the highest order.” Complementing his respectful and compassionate care with patients and colleagues, Chen has single-handedly built the Heart Failure and Transplantation program into what it is today. He spearheads every outreach effort and attends every heart transplant-related fundraising event, understanding what his presence means to patients and their families. Chen has dedicated countless, behind-the-scene hours to “And The Beat Goes On,” a key fundraiser for Harbor House, which provides temporary lodging for patients and their families during treatment at the Program for Heart Failure and Transplantation.

Team Awards

Food and Nutrition Services—When the holiday season approaches, URMC’s leadership invites faculty and staff to celebrate the season by offering a free lunch or dinner prepared by this team. A long-standing tradition, this is no small feat. This past December, more than 12,000 meals were prepared and served throughout our organization, including 2,000 hot meals for off-campus sites from Geneva to Batavia. Planning for this is a monumental task, and the work starts in September. This team works through the tasks to prepare, cook, and serve our employees—many of which send notes that tell us how much it means to be respected, valued, and appreciated every year. The Food and Nutrition team is integral in helping us thank and recognize our staff and faculty for their dedication and work.

Department of Neurology’s Pediatric Epilepsy Program—The PEP team formed in 2014 by uniting two areas within Neurology. During the integration period, 500 unexpected patients from the Syracuse area with complex epileptic conditions were added to their already busy caseload. During the first year of the consolidated program, the PEP team achieved significant success. They doubled the size of the ketogenic diet treatment program, streamlined genetic investigations into seizures, initiated studies on medical marijuana benefits, and piloted the use of telemedicine in managing pediatric epilepsy within the region. But that’s not all. In addition, this team:

  • partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation of America
  • expanded research with the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium
  • received a $5,000 joint grant for ketogenic diet gift baskets
  • developed a youth conference
  • and taught and served as doctors at a summer camp for children with epilepsy

Strong Consult and Transfer Center—Under the leadership of David Trawick, M.D., Ph.D., Kate Miller, and nurse Rhonda Wert, RN, the transfer center staff ensures that physicians outside of Strong caring for critically ill patients have 24-hour access to the full array of advanced subspecialty care. Every day, this dedicated nursing staff coordinates countless consultations with sub-specialists. They consult our medical faculty, ED providers, hospitalists, and other regional referring specialists to get patients the care they urgently require. When the patient needs to transfer to the Med Center for more advanced care, the transfer center staff determine the most appropriate hospital for the patient and then coordinate medical records, imaging data, and the logistics of the transfer, which often includes scheduling an ambulance or Mercy Flight. When Rochesterians become critically ill while out of state, this team brings them home. They’ve carefully coordinated returns from California, Florida, and overseas places like Japan, India, and Spain.

Adult Rapid Response Team—The critical care nurse practitioners and physicians comprising the Adult Rapid Response Team have their primary assignment in the medical intensive care unit where they consistently operate with a high degree of autonomy in crisis situations. This team responds quickly to assist in any area of the hospital, often admitting patients to a higher level of care in one of our critical care units. They create actionable treatment plans, safely transport patients, and initiate admission orders. When a hospitalized patient’s status changes, this team uses its vast expertise to weigh the medical needs and the nursing needs of the patient to make care decisions. They work successfully in concert with nursing staff, respiratory therapists, interns, residents, and Fellows to consistently assure the highest level of patient care and positive outcomes. This team also serves as an educational resource for the hospital’s nursing staff and provides counseling for patients and their families, willingly sharing their decades of experience and insight about critical care.