Medical Center Presents Prestigious Annual Awards to Top Staff

Jan. 25, 2009
Board Awards Spotlight Six Employees, Two Teams, Who Personify Excellence
Board Excellence Awards are presented annually to some of the institution's most exceptional employees.

Today, during the University of Rochester Medical Center Board’s annual meeting, Board Chair Thomas S. Richards presented the 2008 Excellence Awards to some of the institution's most exceptional employees. Altogether, six individuals and two teams were singled out for their unwavering personal and professional dedication to integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence – the very tenets comprising the Medical Center’s Strong Commitment initiative.

The awards are among the highest honors given to Medical Center employees, as they are the only institution-wide awards that recognize staff from throughout the Medical Center’s divisions, including Strong Memorial Hospital, Eastman Dental Center, the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  

Individual Awards

Carlette Bentley received the Strong Stars Excellence Award, a category created just last year to distinguish an individual who, due to their standout service, has received numerous accolades through our employee recognition program. Bentley, an Ambulatory Patient Representative in Strong’s General Medicine division for the past three years, works in the front reception area of the bustling, in-house primary care office and received 10 Strong Star nominations last year alone. While scheduling appointments and checking patients in and out, Bentley greets each patient with a smile and by name – a personal touch that, as one patient best put it, “makes going to the doctor almost a pleasure.” Bentley lives in the city of Rochester.

Maria Vilar-Seelman, B.S.W., a social worker dedicated to caring for patients who undergo cardiothoracic surgery, won this year’s Board Excellence Award in the Clinician category. Vilar-Seelman, a URMC employee for 34 years, works seamlessly with nurses and physicians on the 7-1400 patient care unit to connect patients with necessary counseling, transportation and follow-up care, tapping the myriad of support services available in and out of Monroe County. Vilar-Seelman is well respected for her humor, seasoned communication skills, compassion, creativity and pragmatism. She lives in Greece.

Timothy Stevens, M.D., M.P.H., a neonatologist and associate professor of Pediatrics, received the 2008 Board Excellence Award in the Physician category for the dramatic care and safety improvements he has made during his two-year tenure as medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Stevens is esteemed for his reliability, superb teaching skills, and sharp clinical judgment, and also for his devotion to upgrading the unit’s medical devices, choosing technology that better protects premature babies from environmental stressors outside the womb. He has also championed initiatives that allow babies to head home sooner, such developing an outpatient circumcision program, and creating a plan to help healthy babies be weaned off medicines while at home. He frequently partners with advancement staff, tirelessly supporting fundraising initiatives that help purchase state-of-the-art incubators for the most fragile newborns. Stevens resides in Pittsford.

Amelia Burt received the 2008 Board Excellence Award in the Clerical category. A 24-year veteran of the medical center, Burt has worked  for The Friends of Strong for nearly seven years,  helping credential and oversee all volunteers at the Medical Center and its off-site locations. Her supreme organizational skills, meticulous attention to detail, and persistent follow through make Burt’s performance stand out. She resides in Caledonia.Barbara Anderson, a manager of System and Data Analysis in Care Management and a 30-year veteran of the Medical Center, was presented the 2008 Board Excellence Award for Business Support. Anderson’s work in systems data puts her touch with many of the institution’s departments, and she works tirelessly to tailor databases for each, thanks to her firm grasp of how to best connect, streamline and integrate information for maximum efficiency. Anderson is creative and possesses a sharp mind for complex concepts. In fact, last year, she was part of the award-winning team that guided adoption of the Flowcast system, the most massive software replacement project the Medical Center has ever undertaken. Anderson lives in Penfield.

Andrea Pedersen, a dental hygienist at Eastman Dental Center, received the 2008 Board Excellence Award in the Dentistry category. Pedersen employs compassionate and progressive “desensitization” techniques to provide dental services to adults with developmental disabilities – many of whom would otherwise go untreated. Pedersen, a hygienist for 40 years, 26 of them spent at the Medical Center, has amassed a wealth of accomplishments in her career as educator and researcher. She has not only been a member of the New York Task Force for Special Care since 2004, but also maintains other professional affiliations. She resides in Brighton.

Team Awards

A Team Excellence Award was given to the NICU’s Central Line Team, a group led by nurses Hyacinth Hoey, R.N., B.S.N., and Meggan Butler O’Hara, N.N.P. After poring over research, the team crafted a bundle of evidence-based best practices and began staffing a specially-trained set of nurses who would take turns exclusively maintaining babies’ central catheters – the lines that not only deliver important medicine, hydration and nutrition, but historically, at hospitals nationwide, have also been a prime target for bacteria. Within two years, the team had reduced incidence of these central line infections by more than 85 percent, and the unit now ranks in the top quartile of best performing NICUs in the Vermont Oxford Network. Special credit is due to Diane Prinzing, the NICU’s information analyst who tracks the team’s progress, as well as to nursing leadership – Pat Lamarche, R.N., C.N.S., Kevin Smith, R.N., and Jean Livingston, R.N.

A second Team Excellence Award was presented to the 7-1400 Cardiovascular Patient Care Unit, led by Jason Burgett, R.N., B.S.N., and Anna Lambert, R.N., M.S., C.C.R.N., together with Brian McMartin, R.N., B.S.N., Michelle Rector, R.N., and Jennifer Zarpentine, R.N., B.S.N. The 57-member medical unit cares for heart and vascular surgery patients who require intense observation and specialized care from the moment they enter the ICU to the minute they are discharged. Their outstanding dedication to their patient’s safety (reducing post-surgery infections by 50 percent), comfort and satisfaction, together with their respect for their colleagues and support staff Medical Center-wide, has fostered a unique culture of courtesy, compassion and cooperation.