Patient Care

UR Medical Center Board Honors Top Staff with 2016 Excellence Awards

Jan. 25, 2017
Individuals and Teams Recognized for Outstanding Care
Ten individuals and four teams were honored by the University of Rochester Medical Center Board

Ten individuals and four teams were honored by the University of Rochester Medical Center Board on Jan. 17 for their dedication, service and outstanding patient care, with numerous examples cited of their extraordinary efforts.

Board Chair Susan Holliday presented the 2016 Board Excellence Awards to some of the institution’s most exceptional employees during the Board’s annual meeting. These awards are among the highest honors given, and are the only institution-wide patient-care awards honoring staff members working among the Medical Center’s many divisions.

Individual Awards

Rhonda Wert, R.N., M.S., has been an integral part of URMC for 42 years, epitomizing ICARE principles while moving into positions of greater authority as the hospital’s needs changed. In her capacity as admissions center manager, Wert has enhanced the position of Admitting Clinical Coordinator and tracks the usage for all 838 beds in Strong Memorial Hospital, working to resolve capacity issues across the hospital system. In addition, she has been integral to supporting and enhancing Strong’s relationships with regional hospitals. Wert consistently goes the extra mile daily for patients and for her staff.

Debra Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the NeuroMedical Intensive Care Unit, is actively involved in patient safety issues as the physician leader of the Unit-based Performance Program (UPP) team on her unit. During recent observation rounds by the New York State Partnership for Patients team, Roberts was praised as positive, open to ideas and demonstrates lots of advanced and innovative thinking and prevention.

Kim Hampton, a lead dental assistant of General Dentistry at theEastman Institute for Oral Health, oversees the operation and workflow of the clinic and 45 dental assistants. Hampton handles this demanding job with tireless energy, smiles and a positive attitude. Hampton is pivotal in helping less-experienced assistants gain confidence and insight as they develop into strong assets for the clinic. She is much more than a lead: she is a coach, mentor and friend to many. Kim Hampton is a true representation of URMC’s ICARE values.

Vicki Roberts, M.S., M.T. (ASCP), is the manager of education for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Medical technologist programs provide the necessary pipeline for training future, high-quality medical technologists. Roberts single-handedly took the lead in developing a comprehensive year-long curriculum for training medical technologists. In addition to writing the curriculum, she developed a faculty lecture schedule and laboratory hands-on training. She also made presentations to URMC faculty, clinical and academic leaders and the provost to assure the program met UR standards and was approved as an educational offering within the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Roberts then worked with New York state to secure accreditation. As a result, URMC is hosting its first class of medical technology students, a certificate-granting program, in the summer of 2017.

Lisa Kotyra, R.N., M.S.B.A., ACNP, senior nurse practitioner, is the backbone of the advanced heart failure/heart transplant/artificial heart program and has extensive knowledge of heart transplant regulatory requirements. She represents URMC on the New York State Cardiothoracic Transplant Consortium and is co-investigator of a study on left atrial pressure monitoring to optimize heart failure therapy. In addition, Kotyra has been instrumental in recruiting and orienting advanced practice providers from the ICU, cardiac surgery, transplant and other disciplines and has also developed internal training regarding advanced heart failure to facilitate their orientation. Along with Kotyra’s outstanding achievements, she continues to see patients with complex medical and social needs.

Barbara T. Champlin is an ambassador guest services specialist in the Social Work & Patient & Family Services department. Champlin is often the first person anyone talks with at the Guest Services desk in the Strong Hospital lobby. She is a true ambassador for patients, families and Strong co-workers in every sense of the word. There are dozens of examples of Champlin’s kindness, collaboration, compassion and “going the extra mile.” She works diligently to make sure patients get to their appointments, reassures families, locates patients, comforts lost family members, trains new ambassadors and so much more. Sincere caring for patients, families, and co-workers is in Champlin’s DNA with her welcoming smile, teamwork, and compassion.

Keri Cockman, RNC – OB, nurse manager of the Ambulatory OB/GYN department, serves as an effective leaders and cheerleader, creating a work environment that furthers a culture of teamwork. As a result, the team’s Press Ganey staff engagement scores rose to a top level in a single year. She has developed new workflows and simplified processes, and led two staff retreats and created a team response drill for dangerous deliveries. Her calm demeanor, excellent teaching and advisory skills make her a role model and a consummate leader. Her insight and willingness to meet the unique needs of URMC patients and staff has made Cockman an invaluable member of her team.

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.

Cathy Snider, R.N., nurse manager of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, is a nurse’s nurse with a compassion, love of her job and work ethic that every nurse, whether clinical staff or nursing leader, should emulate. Snider models exemplary empathetic, active listening with patients and their families, following up and making sure their needs are met. She created a new workflow that facilitated getting patients out of bed, medicated and ready for therapy in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation gym in the mornings. Snider truly leads from the heart, with genuine caring evident in her words and actions every day.

Polly Cherry, M.S., operations supervisor in Strong Memorial Hospital’s Care Management department, works with patients and families to obtain financial assistance for medical expenses. Many of Care Management’s clients are underinsured, have no insurance or are facing a catastrophic illness. They are overwhelmed with medical bills and have nowhere else to turn for financial assistance. Cherry has a gift for asking sensitive financial questions with dignity and kindness. She approaches patients as if they were her own family members, gently listening and working side-by-side with patients and their families to overcome the complexities inherent in applying for urgent financial assistance. Cherry’s expertise in navigating the Medicaid/Medicare programs makes a big difference for the families she helps. She is kind, considerate and goes well beyond all expectations to meet the patients’, families’, and her colleagues’ needs.

Joseph Konwinski, M.D., patient safety and quality officer for the Department of Emergency Medicine,interacts with nearly every department in the hospital, identifying systems issues that can affect day-to-day patient care. His soft spoken kindness and approachability fosters cooperation among our many divisions and departments, always in the interest of improving the patient experience. He is admired and respected by everyone he meets: faculty, nurses, staff and, most importantly, patients and their families. He focuses on quality care in two crucial arenas: the bedsides in the Emergency Department and in every safety and quality discussion across the hospital. Konwinski’s exemplary professionalism and compassion are models of the core values on which URMC is founded.

Team Awards

Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program Team—Wilmot Cancer Center’s BMT Team provides an outstanding example of teamwork earned by wholeheartedly embracing the values of high quality, excellent care, respect, accountability and professionalism. The team members take on new initiatives, perform selfless acts and accept challenges for better outcomes by working together to continuously improve safety for patients.

Strong West Emergency Department Team—The Strong West ED is the only free-standing emergency department in the region and only one of a handful in New York State. The physicians, nurses and other support personnel work diligently toward common goals and received the Guardian of Excellence Award from Press Ganey for their outstanding scores in patient experience this year. All staff in the Strong West ED cross-train to provide the best possible support and care for their patients. Among the team’s accomplishments: forming an internal medical emergency response team (MERT), engaging in telemedicine consultations, coordinating teaching events for staff and the community, simulating emergency response scenarios, partnering with regional emergency medical services and acting as an invaluable community resource. When UR Medicine opened Strong West in 2013, the No. 1 priority was to reinstate emergency care to an area that had been without these life-saving services after the former Lakeside Memorial Hospital closed its doors. It has far exceeded expectations, thanks to the ED Team.

Department of Psychiatry’s Telepsychiatry Program—In response to escalating health care costs, the Department of Psychiatry is leveraging technology to create innovative approaches to delivering mental health care. In 2014, the Telepsychiatry Program was initiated, launching a telementoring program in Geriatric Mental Health, titled Project ECHO®GEMH. Project ECHO®, the first in New York state, integrates behavioral health specialists into underserved primary care practices, providing the primary care clinicians with mentoring and feedback from the specialists. Program findings show that ECHO® GEMH is effective in improving the primary care clinicians’ ability to deliver high-quality mental health care to older adults, decreasing emergency room visits and costs. The program led to improvements in clinician knowledge and confidence, encouraged treatment changes, increased access to interdisciplinary support and improved health outcomes for patients with multiple health challenges. In December 2015, ECHO® GEMH expanded into long-term care, providing telementoring to clinicians in more than 50 skilled nursing facilities across 13 counties. The Telepsychiatry Program also provides video consultation telemedicine and plans to expand this service to another 30 skilled nursing facilities in early 2017. These efforts put the Department of Psychiatry and URMC at the forefront nationally for its innovative efforts to extend clinical expertise and take down walls that impede access to care.

Flood Response Team—As part of the Environmental Service Department, the Flood Response Team is on call to manage emergencies related to water flooding or collecting in an area. The team is available around the clock, ready at any time to bring supplies, including heavy extractors, up several flights of stairs to get to the emergency. This past year, the team responded to 24 events, working 340 hours to remove water, clean, and sanitize the areas. In one memorable instance, the team moved a flooded car away from the patient discharge area during a torrential rain storm, then used the extractors to remove water from the soaked car. Their quick response and thorough coordination has significantly reduced the financial losses for the hospital due to extensive water damage while ensuring a clean, sanitary environment.