2022 Excellence in Nursing Awards

Rhode Island Monthly, in partnership with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, honors fourteen-plus unsung heroes of local health care.

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Besides EMTs and paramedics, nurses are the first responders to most health conditions. They comfort you, take your vitals and assess the first course of action. They are the ones who will assure you are in good hands. 

Rhode Island Monthly partnered with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, which chose from fourteen categories of nurses across the profession to highlight varying backgrounds to see what sparks their passion for the field.

Nurses are the unsung heroes of health care, providing exceptional care to not only our physical conditions but to the whole person. That’s been especially true during the past few years, when the comfort of others has been a balm during our time of need: through illness, solitude, pregnancy, emotional roller coasters and more. 

Perhaps you have a family member, friend, loved one or neighbor who deserves this recognition. Nurses are loved by so many; read on to find out why the following nurses were nominated by their peers.

 

Licensed Practical Nurse

Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, LPN

Hep-C Nurse/Care Coordinator, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

It’s not a direct path. I was always hesitating between teaching and nursing; I call them the noble professions. My sister was a nurse, but she passed away. My mother was sick and there were a lot of nurses coming to the house where I grew up in France. I was intrigued — I liked what nurses do. I like how they held it together for my mother. I’ve always liked science, but I liked music, too. Between the two, I didn’t know what to choose. I went to college and studied musicology in France. When I came to America, I did not speak English very well and took classes in California. I took biology and astronomy where I found out I really loved science. I thought about getting a Ph.D. in biology, but it got me back into science and I suddenly thought, “I’d love to be a nurse.” Much later, I went to nursing school in Massachusetts, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, and I didn’t know the difference between LPN and RN — it was nursing. I liked it a lot. I had my first job in long-term care. There was a pause in my story. I stopped nursing and went back to teaching French at the French American School in Providence. I went to West Africa as a program coordinator and found I really wanted to go back to nursing. I called CODAC; it was the right place to apply. Here I am, fifteen years later.

What is the best part of your role?

What I like now is that I have been able to provide a nonjudgmental space for people to come and ask questions. Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that is curable. To get people on treatment very quickly has been very rewarding.

People want to get treated, but it’s not always easy. You risk the repercussions of addiction and homelessness. You put the doctor’s appointment last, it’s not a priority. But somehow, people find that little space and come to us. It’s just being here, and when they’re ready, we’re here. With every interaction, patients have always wanted treatment. Even those struggling with homelessness, but even so, they took their pill every day. When people say they’re not going to do it, there’s evidence that they’re willing to do it.

It is incredibly rewarding. As nurses, we have that rhythm in our genes, but to listen to stories and the strength of humans is unbelievable. I’m always in awe of how people have been beaten up one time after another, and then they get up to go to the clinic in the middle of the day waiting to get their treatment and then go on with their life. Some take multiple buses to get here.

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Clinical Nurse Educator

Ashley Giarusso, BSN, RN, CEN

Patient Safety Specialist at The Miriam Hospital, Emergency Department

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Photography by Alex Gagne

How has your career changed over the years?

A large part of nursing leadership now versus a few years ago is finding different ways to engage staff and keep them informed about everything they need to know in order to care for their patients in the best way. Volume has gotten so much larger in the emergency department over my years here and with competing priorities on so many things, it’s very hard to keep staff updated. With limited resources, staff are finding it hard to provide the kind of care they want while keeping up with all of the protocols and documentation. Everyone wants to provide so much more than they are able to these days.

How have you been an asset to understanding proper patient care and selection?

I investigate every situation that is brought to my attention and try to find where our gaps are and educate based on that. I also always try to advocate if what we have in place doesn’t make sense for practice and reach out to staff for what they think would work better. I research how other hospitals are doing things to make sure there isn’t something we are missing here. I really try to thoroughly look at everything in the bigger picture to see where our opportunities are and what our leadership team can do to provide our staff with the tools to take care of our patients safely and efficiently. 

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Nurse Practitioner

Beverly Waldman Rich, DNP, APRN-BC

Bradley Hospital Adjunct Professor, Nursing Department, Rhode Island College

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell me about your role as a clinical instructor for the RIC nursing program.

I taught adjunct for over twenty-five years to junior-level nursing students. I loved the role. Students came in curious and enthusiastic about entering the field of nursing. It’s funny those who thought that they wanted to go into mental health nursing and had been psychology majors or minors sometimes changed their mind, while many were hesitant about the field or petrified working with individuals labeled “psychiatric” patients. They ended up having a passion for this specialty area and found that they had an undiscovered intuitive nature. I always tell students that if you have never been touched by mental health or substance use issues, either yourself, a family member, relative, friend or friend of a friend, you are an anomaly, especially during the pandemic when even the most resilient of us suffered from heightened anxiety, low moods and depression with the isolation and uncertainty. When you put it in that context, it helps students to see humanism in mental health. Whether you end up in pediatrics, oncology or orthopedics, all nurses are psychiatric nurses. Mental health was most impactful for them — that’s a skill you can have for life.

How has being a nurse in a behavioral health center differ from hospital settings?

I have been a nurse for over thirty years. I can honestly say that it differed more years ago. When we approached the patient in the mental health setting primarily looking at his or her depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, we were looking at medication and cognitive and behavioral interventions to diminish symptoms. Now, we know the individual needs to conceptualize “full body” and explore all of the social determinants of health: all systems in the patient’s life, family relationships, overall social connectedness, economic, educational/vocational and health care access when treating patients. Although some settings are definitely more medically oriented, if you don’t address the psychosocial aspects as well, there will be a delay in healing, relapse or even worse, the premature end of life.

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Nursing Staff/Team

The Tomorrow Fund at Hasbro Children’s Hospital

*Interview with Angi Hastings, RN

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What do you think makes a successful nursing team?

The most important quality of a successful nursing team is respect for one another. We always make it a priority to listen to each other’s opinions and concerns. Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses in many areas, and we try to work together to make for a peaceful, smooth-
running workplace.

What is the most rewarding part of working with kids?

Kids are awesome! Our patients can scream, “I hate you!” when we’re restraining them to perform a medical procedure, but in the next moment grin at us and say, “Thank you! Let’s play a game together!” What job can possibly be better than this? We see children with all sorts of different diseases and personalities, and the strength and forgiveness that they show us every minute of every day will always be the best part of our jobs. 

QUOTES from the NURSING STAFF: 

“Very few people can say they love to go to work every day, but I can. I’m so fortunate to be able to work with these children. They keep me grounded and grateful.”

“Watching kids’ resilience is amazing.”

“There is nothing better than helping kids feel better.”

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Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Jared Matteson, CRNA

Owner, Northeast Anesthesia Partners, practices at outpatient facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

My mother was a nurse for fifty years. Initially, I wasn’t interested in medicine, but I had a good friend who was a paramedic. Just describing what he did sounded interesting to me. Once I got into it, I got that feeling of wanting to help people. I chose nursing because my mother influenced me. The anesthesia path was due to my uncle; I didn’t really know about the job at all until he talked to me about it.

Why did you choose anesthesiology?

I’m always looking for new challenges. Pretty early on, I worked in the ICU for two-and-a-half years with the idea to go onto anesthetist school. My uncle was a big influence and I met really great anesthesiologists in the field. Early on, I shadowed some people in the OR. I knew right when I went in for my interview for anesthesia school and got to shadow a CRNA up close and see the whole process. I like focusing on one patient at a time and I love the OR environment — it’s very exciting. As a CRNA, you get to do a lot more: You intubate, administer anesthesia and have a lot of autonomy.

What is something that isn’t known about your field?

I’ve had people ask me, “Do you stay the whole time?” We’re there the whole time monitoring the patient. A CRNA provides the majority of the direct anesthesia care in the state of Rhode Island. When you have surgery, it’s most likely you will have a CRNA by your side. In most hospital settings, an anesthesiologist is supervising three to four CRNAs, but during your procedure you will have a highly trained CRNA by your side. In the state of Rhode Island, we have just over 200 CRNAs who are doing an awesome job every day.

Anesthesia is very different from nursing. With anesthesia, you’re practicing in an OR or an outpatient center. It’s a lot of responsibility. No anesthetist takes that lightly. You could make mistakes, so you definitely have to be on your game. You have to always stay humble with it; you can’t be a cowboy or get too comfortable.

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Nontraditional Setting

Gail Patry, MS, RN

Senior Vice President of Quality Programming, Healthcentric Advisors

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

When I turned sixteen, I got a job at Oak Hill Nursing Home in Pawtucket as a nursing assistant. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found that I loved the work. I cared deeply for the residents who lived there, and I worked with an amazing group of nurses and nursing assistants for whom I developed tremendous respect. I had intense curiosity for the science behind what I was seeing and the various conditions and treatments. I knew within a very short period of time that I wanted to go to nursing school to be able to contribute to their care in other ways in addition to the support for their day-to-day activities.

How did you become a nurse at Healthcentric Advisors? How is it different from a hospital setting?

I have never actually worked in a hospital. My background is in long-term care and hospice.

I had the pleasure of working with David Gifford, MD, former director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, who was the medical director at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center when I worked there as the head nurse on their subacute unit. He was also the medical director for Healthcentric Advisors, a nationally recognized health care quality improvement organization, and encouraged me to apply to serve as a lead in a national nursing home quality improvement project. I was very hesitant to leave clinical care, but he convinced me by saying that we would have the opportunity to improve care for thousands of nursing home residents across the country. It is very different from working in a clinical setting because we don’t provide health care — we work with those who do to improve the quality of the care they provide.

What is the best part of your role?

It’s very difficult to narrow it down to the best part, but if I had to, I would say it is the people. I work with an amazing team of dedicated professionals at Healthcentric Advisors, at the health care providers we serve (hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, community physicians), and with the stakeholders with whom we partner. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who are smart and dedicated to their work so not a day goes by that I don’t learn something from them. At the end of the day, we all still want the same thing, and that is for everyone to get consistent quality health care at the right time in the right setting.

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Senior Student Nurse

Jelyssa D’Lugo, BSN, RN

Rhode Island College, Class of 2022

Affiliations: Nurses Assistant at Hattie Ide Chaffee Home; Certified Nursing Assistant at Assisted Daily Living LLC; President of the Student Nurses Association at RIC; member of the Nurses Christian Fellowship at RIC

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

When I was sixteen, my mom passed away from breast cancer. It made me grow up really fast. Even before then, she had struggles with her mental health. While in hospice, she had a nurse that took good care of her, and my family took care of her. I couldn’t do much at the time, and I felt a little helpless, so I really wanted to learn how to care for people in the way they cared for my mom. That inspired me to go for my CNA license the following year. I knew I wanted to do health care, I just didn’t know exactly where. I initially wanted to become a physician’s assistant; it sounded good for me, but eventually I got a lot of feedback from different nurses in the field that I’d be a great nurse and to go for it. I ended up going to Johnson and Wales University as a biology major, struggled a lot through that program, then I decided it wasn’t the right fit. I really wanted to get into health care as soon as possible, which is what drew me to the program at Rhode Island College.

How have you been guided by your colleagues to prepare yourself for the field?

I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from nurses in the field. One of the clinical instructors this past year challenged us to not spend so much time worrying about the documentation, the physical things we do, things that get billed: starting an IV, documenting a patient’s condition. She encouraged us to focus on the patient and person and be present with them. She really pushed us to be very sensitive to the client’s needs. I find that when you actually put your heart into it and get to know the person, it doesn’t matter how difficult the patient may be or whatever difficulty they may be facing — it’s easier to connect with them and find a common ground. These days, we’re all disconnected with technology and we’re going through a lot right now.

What has been your favorite rotation?

I’m an open book. I enjoyed 90 percent of my clinical rotations. I would try anything, but I’m leaning more toward maternity. I love babies. A lot of the nursing students either thought of going into pediatrics or maternity, but when they went, it’s totally not what they thought. For me, I never considered maternity. My first clinical day was spent in the newborn intensive care unit and I loved it. I was surprised, too, because it’s tragic, there’s a lot of heartbreak. The nurse I followed that day was excellent, just the way she carried herself, took care of the babies, interacted with them and made it a very positive experience for me. I saw a baby with trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome, a condition where an additional chromosome causes severe developmental delays) and that does not have a great prognosis; only 12 percent of babies survive their first year of life. They were getting ready to tell the parents that the baby wasn’t going to make it, and that was heartbreaking. Just the way she handled it with grace was so inspirational.

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Academic Setting

Justin DiLibero, DNP, APRN, CCRN-K, CCNS, ACCNS-AG, FCNS

Chair, Graduate Department, and Associate Professor at Rhode Island College

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

I have always been interested in science and health care, and although I know it sounds cliche, I wanted a profession that would allow me to make a difference for others. After graduating high school, I had the opportunity to work as a certified nursing assistant. This position exposed me to a variety of health care roles. Although I have great respect for all health care professions, I realized that the nurses were the ones who spent the most time with patients. They were often the first to identify a concerning change in a patient’s condition and initiate therapies. They could translate medical information in a way that patients could understand, and they provided comfort and reassurance for patients and families. I wanted to be able to make that kind of an impact for someone else and felt a calling to become a nurse. I think that nursing chose me as much as I chose it. I began my career as a registered nurse after obtaining my associate degree in 2003 and have never looked back. I have gone on to complete my bachelor’s, master’s and doctor of nursing practice degrees. I have spent most of my career as a critical care nurse and clinical nurse specialist. More recently, I have transitioned to an academic teaching position where I currently work as an associate professor in the Zvart Onanian School of Nursing at Rhode Island College.

What is the most important lesson you have been able to show your students?

The most important lesson I have been able to share with my students is never to underestimate the importance and value of your role. This lesson applies to every level, from the staff nurse at the bedside to advanced practice nurses in clinical roles to nurse managers, directors, educators and executives. Nurses provide the majority of patient care, and no one understands nursing practice better than nurses. It is the staff nurse at the bedside who understands better than anyone else what the most significant barriers to best practices are, and they have a first-hand perspective on what the most effective solutions might be. Yet, all too often, change and quality improvement feels like something done to nurses rather than led by nurses. Staff nurses must understand how important their voice and perspective are. For those in advanced practice and leadership positions, it is important to consider how much of our work is about supporting and empowering staff nurses at the bedside. Most important is that we create an environment where all voices are heard and where we can work together to make our optimal impact on outcomes for our patients, families and the health care system.

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Community Health/Public Health

Kristen Lherisson, BSN, RN, CDO

Clinical Director, Blackstone Valley Community Health Care

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

Much of my adult life has been working in community health and human services. I really just saw the need for people willing to advocate for people in our community and really work to enhance their lives through health education and health care in general. Nurses are a huge part of that. Nurses across the board tend to spend the most time with patients. I really saw a niche to step in and advocate for my patients and lead as healthy a life as possible.

What is the best part of your role?

I’m always a nurse first. Once somebody becomes a nurse, that’s the way it is. It’s one of those careers where the benefits always outweigh the challenges. You never question why you come to work in the morning or stay late in the evening. It’s just a passion within you. What motivates me is I know why I’m here. It’s exciting because it’s kind of something new every day. In community health, we see a variety of patients and backgrounds. We have to be creative in our approach to provide the best care we can. If you put your patients first no matter the background, you’re making a difference. You need to be there. It takes all of us as a community to provide community care.

What is your greatest achievement as a community nurse?

The biggest benefit is meeting patients where they’re at. There’s so much that goes into a person’s health: medications, diet, exercise, social factors and mental health. All of those things need to be taken into consideration when working with these patients; it’s not a hospital shift with rotating cases. You realize you really have to know quite a bit about everything. Our days can be anything from treatment for STDs to educating people on diabetes. One of the greatest things about community health nursing is having that umbrella of things you need to focus on and having the ability to treat the patient as a whole person. I’m very proud to be a part of Blackstone Valley Community Health Care and provide care to any patient who needs it. The community health team and behavioral health team provide whole care for the patient. Nursing school is tough; the career can be challenging. I can promise anyone who gets through it will absolutely change their life for the better. 

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Clinical Practice Nurse of the Year

Nannette Corcoran, BSN, RN

Senior Nurse Coordinator, Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Women and Infants Hospital

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Was nursing your first choice of career?

No, I wanted to be a psychologist. When I was young, I was extremely shy and quiet. I read a lot during recess and lunch but could hear the other kids my age talking about having a tough time just hitting puberty as we all were. I began to read up on subjects and found we were not odd and that others have the same questions. My little knowledge of the subject was helpful in developing my listening skills. My first job was at a nursing home taking care of the elderly, assisting with meals and feeding our clients, then bathroom assistance and then providing personal care. Still in high school, I realized I enjoyed caring for the elderly as it gave me a great feeling of satisfaction. Many of the residents were always so grateful for the back rub and assistance with personal care. I found a way to get through to difficult residents by giving them uninterrupted time, approaching with a smile and a cheerful voice and moving along slowly without rushing through, while continuing to talk softly. I found likes and dislikes and learned a lot about this aging population with their worries and concerns all so different from mine. It felt rewarding with giving personal care, brushing their hair and the little things to make them feel better. I realized a hands-on approach and listening was what the residents needed. A valuable lesson learned is to provide care, have listening skills and the gift of time. This learning experience helped me change my decision for my path of study from psychology to nursing.

What are you most proud of during your time at Women and Infants?

I would say my most rewarding time was befriending a pregnant mom and gaining her trust. We cultivated a relationship of acceptance, dependability and were up front with each other. We were able to work on trust issues: I was always honest and a good listener. At appointments, I would be present throughout to explain and support her. When making the plan for delivery, she asked me if I would accompany her through preop, delivery and postop to provide support, comfort and help her maintain composure. I agreed and once in recovery, I was able to take pictures of the new family, hold the new bundle of joy and participate in having my picture taken for the baby book. This experience is why I became a nurse and why being nonjudgmental is so important in our everyday lives.

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Nurse Leader

Melissa Feid, RN, BSN

Director of Care Management at Coastal Medical

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Photography by Alex Gagne

How have you been able to lead your colleagues effectively over the past few years?

Leading colleagues over the last few years has been one of the most important steps of my nursing leadership journey. Leading up to the pandemic year, our care management program was redesigned to make the work more impactful for both patients and staff. The team came together over seven months every two weeks to begin to understand the impact that they could have on more high-opportunity/rising-risk (actionable) patients while they were activated in their health care system. They were engaged in problem-solving together, eager to maintain momentum during this time. Together, we built a model to care for more than the high-cost patients in an archaic model of care management. We built a new model to consider critical factors such as utilization, social and behavioral health domains impacting health and other factors supporting the “right patient at the right time.” The core of nursing truly is doing what is right for a patient. Ethically, we are inclined and driven by the notion that we are called as a vocation to take care of patients and always do what is right for them and by them. Through this experience, I understood that the most powerful voice in the room is always the people doing the work.

Was nursing your first choice of career?

Nursing was not my first choice of career. Ironically, I always wanted to be a nurse; I played nurse with my dolls as a young girl, however, I took a path into retail management. I was a store manager and promoted to district leader, managing many teams over the years. I learned how to work with people, engage and motivate staff, enhance communication and provide exceptional customer service. I took all those learning experiences and values with me when I became a nurse in 2010 and it was so helpful in my current journey. 

Where do you see yourself in the field in the next five years?

I am a nurse; I am a nurse first. If the next five years provide me the opportunity to continue to develop pathways, processes and systems to serve the population, that is where I will be. I see myself continuing to advocate for patients and staff, sharing best practices and learning new concepts that engage patients and teams. The health care system is taxed, arguably more than ever, and I will continue to strive to make a difference in a system that is necessary to the world. We need more nurses, the world does. I hope to be a sounding voice to impact the system positively to recruit, support and empower them. 

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Home Health

Joanne Jenson, RN

Home Care RN, Charter Care Home Health Services

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us what drew you to the nursing field.

The need for caring, for making a difference. I’ve gotten into the home care aspect of it. I feel as though patients do much better in their home environment and their own setting: They respond better, heal faster and are better being around their family members. There’s a lot of education in the home environment teaching them about their illnesses and conditions, how to take care of them and looking in their own home to see ways to help them. Home health involves the whole family unit. Everyone’s pitching in and learning what they’re doing. For example, for a patient with a low-salt diet, I have to go into the pantry and show how much sodium is in each item. You can connect in their own environment and patients feel comfortable in their own homes versus a hospital with lots of stimulation. You have to respect that you’re in their home and you have to adjust to their environment.

What is the best part of your role?

Making a difference, setting a goal for the patient and seeing them meet that goal — maybe it’s a wound healing or a diabetic who is now in control. Just making a difference, that’s what it’s all about.

There are many who have touched my life. Being in their home, you learn so much you cannot find in the textbook. I’ve learned about people’s beliefs and cultures and how they respond to things. Everyone is different; I leave all biases at the door. It taught me so much about life in general, just meeting people with different conditions, beliefs, wealth and education levels.

I treat everyone the same way. My goal is to get them well and back on their feet again. And it’s not just me: I work with a great team, and they have helped me accomplish this award and shaped me along the way.

Can you recall a few memorable home care patients?

The long-term elderly almost become like family, so many have made a difference. I took care of a gentleman for several months. He had a diagnosis that he did not survive, and along the way I became friendly with his wife through teaching how to care for him. His wife and I share the same first name. We connected and I’ve been calling her every year for several years on the anniversary date that her spouse passed away and she looks forward to that call every year.

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Nurse Executive

Orla Brandos, DNP, RN, MBA, CPHQ, NEA-BC, FACHE

Vice President of Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer at Newport Hospital

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Photography by Alex Gagne

Tell us more about the Center of Professional Practice and Innovation.

When I started as chief nursing officer at Newport Hospital, I created this department to support the Newport Hospital nursing services and staff. The CPPI team interacts with our nurses through many touchpoints, and they are essential in guiding our American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program. They oversee everything from nursing orientation for new hires to ongoing education needs for new equipment to policy and procedure changes, as well as ongoing staff professional development. The department is staffed by a small group of highly skilled team members who include an advanced practice registered nurse, clinical nurse specialists, master of science in nursing and bachelor of science in nursing clinical nurse educators and a program coordinator. They all have a diverse and deep range of skills in content areas such as nursing informatics, critical care, acute inpatient rehabilitation and emergency nursing, policy development, graduate nurse residency program project management and learning system management. 

What are the most challenging, yet rewarding, parts of your role?

The significant disruption in stabilizing the nursing workforce is unprecedented. Since the pandemic, we have seen an uptick in early retirements, requests for reduction in work hours, competitive labor markets and a decrease in the number of registered nurse applicants applying to nursing school programs. Staffing challenges occur on a daily basis, not just in nursing but in every discipline throughout the health care system. Despite these challenges and the additional pressures on our nurses today, it is incredibly rewarding to see the extraordinary care that our staff delivers to every patient and their genuine desire to help make a difference. When I witness these special moments between nurses and patients or receive a letter from a grateful patient sharing the positive experience they had with our nurses and all care providers, it reminds me why we are all here every day and reignites my passion for nursing.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

May 2019, when the chair of the Commission of the Magnet Recognition Program from the American Nurses Credentialing Center called me to congratulate Newport Hospital nurses on receiving our fourth Magnet Recognition, which is the gold standard for nursing excellence and the highest honor for nursing a hospital can achieve. Newport Hospital is one of two hospitals in the state of Rhode Island to achieve this designation. 

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Long-Term Care Nurse

Jennifer Cellar, BSN, RN, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC

Palliative Care Practitioner at HopeHealth Palliative Care

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Photography by Alex Gagne

What advice have you been given by elderly patients?

The most common advice I have received is “don’t get old.” I have a profound love for our geriatric community and all the experience and wisdom they bring. The primary reason I gravitated toward geriatrics was the amazing population of World War II veterans widely known as the Greatest Generation. They have been humble, wise and hysterical to spend time with throughout my career. I remember as a young clinician mistaking a scar on a patient’s knee for a previous knee replacement and being politely corrected that it was, in fact, a scar from a bayonet wound he received during combat. There have been countless female patients that have shared their extraordinary experiences in the war, and I am amazed by their courage, bravery, sacrifice and poise. It is such a privilege to hear stories of my patients’ past.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Most of what I do as a palliative care consultant is discuss life-limiting disease, prognosis and goals for care. It’s often a difficult discussion with hard choices to be made. It is rewarding to know our interaction and role is valued and to know that we are in fact making a difference in the experience our patients and families have in the health care system. COVID-19 has turned health care on its head and I’m hopeful that now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to be impactful. During the pandemic, when many members of our geriatric population were in long-term care facilities, the feelings of isolation and fear were tangible. Being able to physically be there, when family was not, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. We can’t fix everything in medicine, but we can always offer support, symptom management and comfort