Monday, May 13, 2019 3:59 PM

Top Nurses Recognized for Research, Mentoring and Improving Care

Since 1997, the Central San Joaquin Valley Nursing Leadership Coalition has honored nurses with the distinguished RN of the Year awards. RN of the Year includes recognitions in six categories: Excellence in Leadership, Excellence in Education, Excellence in Clinical Practice, Innovation in Professional Nursing, Excellence in Nursing Research and Friend of Nursing.

For the 2019 RN of the Year awards, Community Medical Centers nominated six nurses who all embody Community’s Nurses Week theme – Bold, Bright, and Brilliant. Each nominee advances the profession with their brilliant ideas, lights up patients' days with compassionate care, and boldly works to advocate for quality care.

Pictured: Evelyn M. Hickson (left), Tina Gulbronsen, Community Regional ACNO (middle), Diana Cormier Farrah (right)

Winners for 2019 RN of the Year Awards

Excellence in Clinical Practice: This award is given to recognize, document and communicate best practices in clinical nursing. 
Evelyn M. Hickson, a clinical nurse specialist in staff development at Community Regional – With 34 years of experience, Evelyn is the personification of a results-driven and passionate advanced practice nurse, committed to making a difference for mothers and newborns. She's published her research on reducing infections for cesarean surgeries, contributed chapters to the Mosby's pocket guide for fetal monitoring and assessment, and shared best practices for mentoring new perinatal nurses in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing. Evelyn's study and research on C-sections resulted in a several million dollar savings by reducing complication rates, length of stay and readmissions at MultiCare Health System; that same protocol is being used now throughout the U.S. and in the Kaiser Health Care System. She's spoken nationally and internationally on cardiovascular disease in pregnancy, ways to reduce surgical site infection and OB trauma care. 

Excellence in Nursing Research: Awarded to a nurse who has made significant contributions to research that expands the body of knowledge and supports evidence-based practice. 
Diana Cormier Farrah, a clinical nurse specialist in staff development at Community Regional – Dr. Diana Cormier-Farrah has been in healthcare since 1988 in roles that include health counselor, paramedic, clinical instructor, and finally researcher and CNS. She's passionate about enhancing neonatal and pediatric care outcomes, while also empowering clinical staff and parents to be effective caregivers. She's currently the principle Investigator for a study with the California Preterm Birth Initiative: Improving Preterm Infant Outcomes with Family Integrated Care & Mobile Technology, which aims help parents move from engaged observers to active caregivers. Diana developed guidelines to standardize management of newborns exposed to narcotics, protocols to transition infants more safely to oral feeding, ways to reduce antibiotic use in the NICU, and implemented infant safety classes to reduce hospital readmissions for injuries, medication errors, and Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Meet all of Community Medical Centers’ 2019 Nominees

Catrina Cullen, a Critical Care nurse educator at Community Regional – Catrina is considered a coach and mentor at Community Regional, working to improve nursing care by thoughtfully sharing evidence-based practices and clinical research. She's had a tremendous impact on nurses at all levels and frequently collaborates outside the critical care areas where she's seen as an expert. Her most notable contributions include implementing the Society of Critical Care Medicine's (SCCM) recommended bundle of care to reduce delirium, improve pain management and reduce long-term consequences for our critical care patients, and the co-development of the HAPI Prevention (Hospital-Acquired Pressure Injury) education for Community. She's presented locally and at national levels on her SCCM study. And she was instrumental in implementing Community Regional’s ECMO program which takes over breathing and heart functions for extremely ill patients. 

Wayne Hart, clinical nursing supervisor in the emergency department at Community Regional – Wayne is known for being a passionate patient advocate, thinking outside the box, demanding excellence from his team and for providing quality medical care for thousands. Since assuming his duties Wayne has shortened wait times for our lobby patients from an hour and 10 minutes to 37 minutes on average. Correspondingly, the number of patients who leave voluntarily without being seen by a medical provider has been reduced drastically, by at at least 2,000 patients annually. He has achieved this by working tirelessly with the provider and nursing staff  to streamline patient flow. This practice affects approximately 75,000 patients seen at the Community Regional ER and roughly 45,000 of those can get their medical care with Wayne's team's help without them ever actually entering the ER proper.  It means less waiting, less leaving without being seen, less movement within the department, and high levels of quality care.

Thomas Minas, director of surgical services at Clovis Community – Tom was a nominee for the Excellence in Leadership award because of his commitment to staff development, physician collaboration and impacts that drive positive change and improve quality care. He's intimately involved in the review of processes, policies and procedures surrounding patient care in the surgical departments. He strongly supported and advocated for creating a new counting process in the operating room that includes radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, helping to eliminate errors in the OR. He takes every opportunity to promote evidence-based practices and educate staff about new best practices to staff and the latest research. 

Rebecca Stelmat, clinical nurse supervisor of the Float Team at Clovis Community – In her 13 years with Community, Rebecca has worked in medical/surgical, home health, patient flow and is currently the in charge of patient flow and bed control nurses at Clovis Community. Her passion is working collaboratively to move patients through our hospital utilizing the most current evidence based data and incorporating the latest electronic health data. Rebecca has made community and patient outreach a priority and has helped improve the relationship between the hospital and local nursing/ long-term care facilities. Rebecca is focused on developing more after-discharge services for patients including helping them to manage follow-up appointments and reaching out to pharmacies to assure availability and affordability of their medications.