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Cambridge Health Alliance
Justyna Armata-Whitsey, Lunemise Figaro, Margarette Milfort-Georges, Jocelaine Mallebranche, Danielle Sheldon, Jen Vega, Annadiem Nguyen, Marie Saint Fleur, West 1 Night Nurses, Everett Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
The night shift on West 1 at Everett Hospital maintained the highest standards of excellence in an ever-changing environment, whether it was a change in treatment of our patients or a colleague who couldn’t come to work because of illness. But in true night shift fashion, their teamwork enabled them provide compassionate, safe care to “get the job done.” It has been a privilege managing such extraordinary nurses: Lunemise Figaro, Margarette Milfort-Georges, Jocelaine Mallebranche, Danielle Sheldon, Jen Vega, Annadiem Nguyen, Marie Saint Fleur, Justyna Armata-Whitsey.—Nominated by Nancy Correa
Virginia Andradas, Cambridge Health Alliance
Virginia is one of our charge nurses for the COVID-19 testing tent. She is compassionate and very knowledgeable. When I received my first dose of the COVID vaccine, she texted me to see how I was doing the evening of and on the following day. She goes all-out to help patients. When a Spanish-speaking patient was having difficulty making an appointment to get tested, Virginia took the time to call on their behalf. She keeps up-to-date on the latest developments regarding COVID guidelines and vaccines, which is she more than happy to explain to patients with questions. Thank you for your commitment to helping others.—Nominated by Francine Zhou
Kristin Aviles, Everett Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Kristin joined Everett Hospital in August 2016 as the manager on a busy med/surg/tele unit. Kristin’s leadership is guided, in part, by the hospital’s values, and her actions during this past year embodied these values. She showed compassion when talking to families who couldn’t visit their loved ones, and when a staff member was worried about a family member who was at risk. She demonstrated integrity by always having a positive attitude with her staff. She acknowledges staff accomplishments and is their head cheerleader. When interacting with patients, she remains calm, shows interest in what they are saying, and reliably follows up on their concerns. Kristin was always respectful of her staff’s concerns, whether it was about providing proper and sufficient PPE or a patient’s concern about their health. If she did not have the answer, she always asked the experts and answered all concerns to ease everyone’s worries. She demonstrated a sense of community by working with the care team to ensure that patients received the care they needed, and worked with colleagues at CHA to make sure the staff had the tools needed to safely render care. Kristin demonstrated her commitment to learning by huddling with all shifts to discuss how to use the PPE; how to assess and care for patients when new, changing, or unfamiliar treatments were being used; and she did this every day, until she was sure that the staff understood these treatments. By doing all of the above, Kristin was able to, and still does, display her dedication to excellence. During the first surge, she was at work every day to ensure her patients and staff were safe and cared for. Working with Kristin has been the best four-years-and-seven-months of my nursing career, and an honor.—Nominated by Nancy Correa
The year 2020 brought unprecedented times to hospitals across the world. Our safety-net hospital, CHA-Everett, was hit especially hard. We witnessed our patients—some of the most marginalized in society—and our team members, many of whom live in our communities—impacted by the pandemic with a magnitude that could never have been imagined. It is Kristin Aviles’ knowledge of transformational leadership, her skills as a leader, and her positive attitude in the face of adversity that not only led her “West 3 Warriors” into a battle like none other, but allowed her team to come out victorious on the other side.
Kristin focused daily on the welfare of her team, many of whom were “redeployed” to her unit from elsewhere. Demonstrating care and compassion, integrity in all interactions, and noticing when her team was becoming overwhelmed, she was there for everyone. She became the “go-to leader” not only for her unit, but for the entire hospital. Kristin was approachable and her problem-solving skills were superior as each day brought multitudes of challenges that never existed before. Her attention to detail, maintaining safety for her employees and their assigned patients, her unwavering stamina, and her sense of humor are just some of the characteristics that helped her team get through each day. More importantly—these characteristics made her team want to keep coming back to work, to “nurse” the ill of our surrounding communities. She was a patient advocate and a nurse advocate, bringing staff concerns to hospital leadership so she could support her staff in their daily battles. She is a leader, she is a warrior, she has true grit, and the staff and her colleagues salute Kristin Aviles.—Nominated by Leigh Waring-Sciarappa
Kristin is the nurse manager on West 3, our dedicated med-surg COVID unit on the CHA Everett campus. In spring 2020, our community hospital was hit early and hard by COVID-19, drawing patients from Chelsea, Revere, and Everett, where community rates of infection were high. Kristin was the ideal nurse manager during this difficult time—she was fully present, supporting her staff with good cheer and confidence, creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. When supplies (including PPE!) were unpredictable, Kristin deftly navigated changing recommendations and novel adaptations with her staff, helping members of her team climb into zippered bunny suits and sponge each other down with disinfectant. The institution redeployed staff from ambulatory practices and other hospital areas to support busy COVID units like West 3, and Kristin provided a warm welcome and effective orientation. Kristin does not just manage nurses, she leads a unit—attentive to the processes that produce outcomes for patients, advocating for resources to support best practices, encouraging people to speak up for safety, building multidisciplinary teamwork. Kristin’s success is rooted in her deep commitment to patients. She is always willing to step in to support direct patient care—to answer a question, navigate a need, place an IV, or shepherd a transition of care. Kristin has the sort of curiosity that makes nurse leaders great—always learning, always seeking to make things better for staff and patients. She made West 3 shine during the often-dark months of 2020 and early 2021.—Nominated by Maren Batalden
My superhero, my nurse manager: Diplomatic. Ambitious. Compassionate. Educated. Visionary. Kristen Aviles was our rainbow in COVID skies. Her leadership, compassion, and nursing skills carried us through it all. She made us fearless against a virus that shook our nation She made us West3 Warriors!—Nominated by Sharon Boyce
Kristin Aviles is the nurse manager of West 3 at Everett Hospital. This unit, which is usually for Medical/Surgical, was a designated COVID-19 unit in April 2020. I was deployed there to help with PPE. I observed Kristin overseeing her group of dedicated nurses with compassion, encouragement, and effective organization and was impressed by the unit’s morale, despite the very difficult circumstances.—Nominated by Eva Patalas
This year has been unlike any other, difficult for anyone in health care, but such a hands-on leader as Kristin led everyone through the crisis. Everett Hospital was hit quickly and with more COVID-19 patients than many in the area. We did not know what it was or what to expect. Kristin’s calm, compassionate care she showed to the patients/staff on her unit, as well as the other units, was incredible. Kristin excelled at communication; huddling with every shift so they all got the same information. She came in on weekends, arrived early and stayed late—working nonstop to keep her staff and patients safe. There was never a moment when her staff did not feel like they had support. Staff and administration knew they could rely on Kristin’s leadership to support our staff and patients during this crisis. A quote from one of Kristin’s nurses sums up her leadership: “When the COVID crisis came to our unit we were all frightened and Kris stepped up every day to alleviate our fears. Kris provided us with constant updates, optimal protective equipment, and a comforting sense of comradery that enabled all of us to feel safe and courageous to care for our very sick and frightened patients. Her guidance and direction in providing outstanding care to our patients, and working together as a team, makes West 3 an awesome place to work!”—Nominated by Cece Buckley
I arrived on West 3 as the clinical leader on March 1, 2020—just in time for the onset of the pandemic surge. Each day, the number of positive patients increased, along with the acuity and death rate. It was something none of the West 3 staff had ever seen. It was frightening. Everything was changing daily, if not hourly. As we functioned in this constant state of flux the only constant was the steadfast leadership of our nurse manager, Kristin. She huddled with us several times a shift as new information became available. She reached out to reassure us we were safe and we would get through this together. She fought with us at the bedside to save lives as well as in high-level meetings to procure PPE. She huddled with every shift daily for months to communicate the latest changes. She was a strong and thoughtful presence in uncertain times. She personally designed a donning-and-doffing system that worked for our practice. We emerged as a cohesive unit able to rise to any challenge. She is a proven warrior in nothing short of a war. I continue to learn from her management approach and I am proud to be a member of her team.—Nominated by Sharen Froilan
2020 will long be remembered for the uncertainty and fear that came with the coronavirus. When the pandemic started, our hospital was one of the hardest-hit in the state. Kristin immediately stepped up to alleviate her staff’s fears and to make sure that they had the appropriate PPE to care for the patients. It is not often that you come across leaders who work so effectively during a crisis. Kristin’s calm approach when speaking with her staff, physicians, and patients helped to alleviate our concerns in this unprecedented time. The empathy she showed for the patients and staff was unlike anything I have witnessed during my career.
Kristin came to work every day in scrubs to work side-by-side with her staff. She arrived early, stayed late, and worked weekends, making sure she communicated with all staff. This helped facilitate teamwork among her unit and the other medical/surgical unit. Every day, her priority was the well-being of her staff, both physically and psychologically. After visiting with the staff, Kristin visited her patients, who were scared and had little family help because visitors were restricted. Kristin was the key person that kept the staff coming to work each day. Patients were quickly moved to the ICU, while others said their final goodbyes to their family over an iPad. No patient died alone. Other patients just needed a hand to hold. Kristen made sure that everyone had the support they needed. Without her leadership, our response would have been very different.—Nominated by Christian Lanphere
I am the RN clinical leader on West 1 at Everett Hospital. I was new there when COVID-19 took over our hospital. Kristin is a great source of calming energy in any situation. She has not only managed her unit in COVID, but also supported our unit. She provided direction, education, and a source of calm to encourage all staff to continue through one of the most difficult times in medical history. No matter what she was doing, she made time to help. Always a smile. A calm word. Reassurance. We at CHA are truly blessed to have her as a part of our family.—Nominated by Kellie Morse
Shamsher Bam, Cambridge Health Alliance
Shamsher is a public health nurse who has worked tirelessly and passionately to care for the Cambridge community. He has planned COVID-19 vaccine clinics, has been doing a great deal of contact tracing for positive cases, works in the TB clinic once a week, leads staff meetings, and has vaccinated home-bound residents, as well as the homeless. He is a nurse who cares for the entire community and is energized by this work. He is as humble as they come, a silent and unknown hero.—Nominated by Tracy Rose-Tynes
Lizete Barbosa, Cambridge Health Alliance
Lizete represents what every patient, significant other’s coworker, provider, nurse manager, and senior leader wants in a nurse. She treats every patient with respect as an individual, adapting her care to the patient’s clinical, emotional and social needs. She strives to ensure the patients are comfortable, informed, and have all of their needs met. At the onset of the pandemic, she was innovative and worked with her peers to provide the best possible care to patients who were isolated from their family and friends during an uncertain and frightening time. She takes the time to connect with patients, making them feel like they are not alone. Patient and staff safety is a priority and a part of her daily work. She does not hesitate to bring forward safety issues and solutions to create and maintain a safe environment. She has recently taken on a clinical leader role in our med-surg unit and incorporates into her day rounding on every patient, creating a calm, efficient environment and making sure patients are well cared for and staff feel supported. As her manager, I would want her (or someone with like qualities) caring for me or my loved ones. I am proud to nominate Lizete and have her working on our unit and representing Cambridge Health Alliance.—Nominated by Laurie Bausk
Loretta Bloom, CHA Medical Specialties, Cambridge Health Alliance
Loretta is great at taking patient calls. She never rejects a call and always helps as much as she can. She always has a positive attitude, is approachable and very welcoming.—Nominated by Silvana Aguirre
Jennifer Brisson, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jennifer goes all-in to care for those who need her. Her dedication and compassion inspire all of us.—Nominated by Isley Goulart
Jenn Brisson, PACE, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jenn always treats her patients with full dedication and thoughtfulness. She looks at the whole picture of the person’s full well-being, rather than just at the wound she may be treating. Nurse Jenn has supported vulnerable older adults in their homes throughout the pandemic. She is considerate of their mental health and takes the time and patience to provide amazing care.—Nominated by Molly Plant
Jennifer Brisson, PACE, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jennifer joined CHA Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) weeks before the pandemic took hold. She exhibited an immense desire for quality patient care. She was making the transition from supervisory work elsewhere and expressed a drive to return to the bedside. As a PACE nurse, she began visiting patients in their homes, building trusting relationships with her patients, exhibiting her exceptional expertise in her nursing craft with her input to her team; Jennifer is exactly what everyone wants in a nurse. Soon after she began, PACE began formulating a task force to see COVID-positive patients in their homes, when we knew almost nothing about the virus, Jennifer was one of the first to volunteer her services. She believes deeply in the patients’ experience of care, dignity, and compassionate care, no matter what the obstacle. Jennifer exudes confidence and compassion and is a strong advocate for all her patients in all scenarios. Her courage and unwavering commitment during this pandemic has been inspiring. For Jennifer, what she does is not just a job, it is a calling. I am beyond proud to have Jennifer on our team, caring for our participants during one of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. Our PACE participants are truly blessed to have her on their team.—Nominated by Tara Sherman
Tie Bing Chen, Cambridge Health Alliance
Tie Bing Chen is a dedicated nurse practitioner who has worked for years honing broad knowledge and compassion. She has been a primary care provider/NP in House Calls, where she manages a patient panel, as well as practices in rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes. She is joyful, energetic, and respectful of patients and colleagues at all times. Tie often does things for patients who have needs but no resources. When we needed additional PPE, Tie reached out to her own social circles and raised awareness and money (much of it her own), then purchased large amounts of PPE to donate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tie had to be redeployed to the hospital, caring for COVID patients while continuing her work in nursing homes. She did this knowing that she was working in some of the riskiest places in the pandemic. She was brave, strong, and kind throughout. She is an exemplary professional, and brings joy to the workplace.—Nominated by Charlene Saulnier
Raquel Colon-Guerrero, Windsor Clinic, Cambridge Health Alliance
Raquel is just awesome—very caring, and always willing to make your day better.—Nominated by Lizmarie Zayas
Julie D’Andrea, Cambridge Health Alliance
Julie has offered so much to our patients and staff. She’s kind and compassionate and takes the time to learn patients’ histories and individual needs. It so important to focus on the patient and understand what helps them and what might trigger them. Julie works on their care plan and communicates with others on the team. She is respected by the multidisciplinary team.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Gianna Desisto, Cambridge Hospital and Brockton Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Gisanna came in and explained everything that would happen. She made me feel comfortable with everything going on. She educated me in a way that I understood. She communicated with my family and kept them informed.—Nominated by Daniel Hogan
Valerie Dominique, Cambridge Health Alliance
Val has been an incredible asset to our clinic and organization, especially over the last difficult year. She has been redeployed and de-deployed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and has done all these roles with competence and compassion. She’s served as our head nurse while our previous has been redeployed for the past year. She is always willing to go all-out for patients and colleagues. She has handled an incredibly difficult and stressful year with calm and compassion. She is a true asset to our team and an incredible RN.—Nominated by Lia Rosenberg
Jennah Epstein-Santoyo, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jennah is one of our charge nurses for the COVID testing tent. She is extremely caring and works hard to keep our team in good spirits. When we were working in cold weather, she treated us to warm soup. She is always thinking of ways to help someone out or offer support. For example, she obtained food donations to be distributed this winter. She also helps translate useful information for Spanish-speaking patients. Whenever an issue arises, Jennah will be the one to immediately address it to ensure positive patient experience and efficiency at the testing tent. Her dedication is truly appreciated.—Nominated by Francine Zhou
Sharen Froilan, Everett Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
As a nurse, Sharen is a trusted colleague, role model, resource, and care provider to the Everett community. For the past 26 years, she’s cultivated her nursing skills, mentored employees, and expanded her leadership abilities. Last March, Sharen was promoted to a clinical leader position of a busy medical/surgical floor. Within two weeks of starting in her new role, the unit was fully engulfed with COVID-19 patients. As fear and anxiety of the unknown grew, usual workflow processes were under constant revision, concerns about access to PPE arose, and employees redeployed to new work areas, Sharen was the leader in the thick of it all. With unwavering stamina, she relieved fears through constant communication, in-the-moment skilled problem-solving, and a sense of humor that helped welcome everyone to the unit. Sharen’s attention to detail lessened the chance for human error under the immense pressure of caring for our very sick patients. She modeled safe PPE practices to prevent cross contamination—all while using her internal compass, which is set to focus on patient advocacy, and while her clinical expertise supported all members of our team, our patients, and their families. During this time, West 3 was nicknamed the West 3 Warriors, and Sharen has been a true warrior this past year. She demonstrated “true grit,” as we termed it, leading her team with courage and a strength of character that is not normally seen. She is a blessing to our West 3 team and we feel so fortunate to have her as our clinical leader.—Nominated by Kristin Aviles
Cindy Le, Cambridge Health Alliance
I have had the pleasure of working with Cindy for three years. Watching her grow with experience, develop confidence in being a staff nurse, and take a charge position has been a pleasure. Not only did our evening clinical leader become ill with COVID-19—our outpatient unit staff also merged with our inpatient staff. Cindy often took the charge role for this time. She demonstrated strength as a resource for the outpatient staff and led all of them. Her compassion and advocacy for staff and patients were great to watch. She had no trouble seeking support and answers when necessary. Now, a year later, I see her shine while advocating, educating, and caring for patients. I’m so proud of her being part of our West 1 family.—Nominated by Kellie Morse
Jamesline Leger, Everett Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jamesline, an ICU nurse, demonstrates an evidence-based practice approach that positively impacts patients and the advancement of nursing practice. Jamesline leads through effective collaboration with colleagues, and advances the mission of CHA “by improving the health of our communities.”
During the initial surge of COVID-19, the ICU held the sickest patients—higher acuity than we normally see. One evening, Jamesline was told she was getting a patient from the medical floor for life support. During this time, we had no visitors, family, or friends to be by the patients’ side. As they wheeled this patient into the room, where everyone had on white suits and strange-looking hoods over their heads, Jamesline took her by the hand and introduced herself with the reassurance we were going to take good care of her.
Before the doctors intubated her, the patient asked to call her sons. Jamesline ran to get her personal phone and dialed the number. This patient told Jameline she was a single parent of three young men and she wanted to reassure them she was OK. As she stood there holding the phone to the patient’s ear, the patient told each boy to take care of his brothers and that she loved them.
Days later, this patient passed away on life support without ever talking to her children again. That simple act of kindness—allowing the patient to call her children—made a difference in the lives of the patient and her three sons. Jamesline continued this level of compassion throughout the surge and made a difference in so many lives.—Nominated by Kimberley Hartman-Poulin
Jessica Loria, Cambridge Health Alliance
Jessica is a certified wound, ostomy, and continence nurse who spends her full-time hours leading our improvement efforts to reduce hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPI) and strengthen nursing practice surrounding HAPI prevention. In her two years at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), Jessica has built a wound/ostomy program from the ground up. She enhanced our skin- and wound-care product line and created teaching resources for the staff, providers, and patients. Jessica also upgraded the ostomy product line and improved nursing knowledge about caring for ostomies. Jessica leads a staff committee called Save Our Skin (SOS) and provides education routinely to the entire multidisciplinary team.
As though that is not enough, Jessica volunteered to work on a medical unit during the first COVID-19 surge in spring 2020. Jessica had never worked as a clinical nurse at CHA, but she quickly oriented to the unit, learning how to document and care for COVID patients. Many nurses who redeployed to COVID units struggled to take more than two patients, but Jessica was able to care for up to four. While this sounds minor, at the time it filled a significant need in staffing. Several regular staff had gone out sick or into quarantine, so staffing was tight. I salute Jessica for her amazing work.—Nominated by Jeanine Rundquist
Ashima Mannan, Cambridge Health Alliance
Ashima is a nurse practitioner in CHA House Calls Program and has provided superb care to her patients both before and during this pandemic. She is compassionate and thorough and, despite many challenges, consistently provides a supportive patient environment. As a home health-care provider, she’s also expert at supporting patients’ families. Ashima always maintains respectful, collaborative relationships with her colleagues, not only under the usual stress of health care, but especially under the heightened requirements for going into patients’ homes during a pandemic. Amidst all of that, Ashima was redeployed to help manage patients in a hospital unit, too. She learned to work with COVID-19 patients in the hospital, while still maintaining her home-care patient panel on other days, and she did it seamlessly and without complaint. She is a knowledgeable, kind person, and a pleasure to work with.—Nominated by Charlene Saulnier
Thelora Marseille, Cambridge Health Alliance
Two years ago, Thelora Marseille interviewed for a job as a nurse in our maternity unit. She was striking in her maturity, composure, and her professional drive to care for women and their newborns. Fast forward just under 24 months and Thelora completed orientation as an RN on the Mother-Baby unit, and then in the Continuing Care Nursery and in the Newborn Transition role (the care of newborns immediately after delivery).
The care she provides for new mothers is calm, compassionate, caring, individualized, and complete. When these new moms leave Thelora, they go home ready to care for their newborn and themselves. Thelora gives them the tools they need. The care she provides for our smallest patients is methodical and focused. These patients can’t speak for themselves, so Thelora pays close attention to every nuance so nothing gets missed. She teaches all of the normal signs to the new moms and their support persons so that they, too, are prepared and confident. Thelora has excelled as a nurse and as a colleague. She maintains a calm approachable demeanor and a beautiful smile (yes, we know it’s still there under her mask).
A few months ago, we approached Thelora with a new challenge. We asked her if she would take on the role of mentoring other staff as a preceptor. Thelora was a bit surprised, thinking she was herself still learning, but we assured her that we’re all still learning, and we would be there to support her if she was willing to take this on. With a bit of a gulp, she accepted. To say Thelora is excelling as a preceptor is a huge understatement. Every time I go into the nursery, she is in teaching mode, showing something new, making sure everything is ready for whatever could happen at any time. This young lady is the future of nursing—she makes us all proud.—Nominated by Jennifer Pedley
Thelora Marseille, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Thelora is always positive, friendly, and competent when we work together in the newborn/postpartum unit. I can tell she truly cares for the mothers and babies that we serve. One morning as I was rounding, I was impressed with how quickly she identified a newborn that had become ill. She brought the baby to my attention and we were able to quickly transfer the baby to a tertiary care center, where he ultimately ended up receiving lifesaving surgical treatment. Thelora remained calm in a stressful situation, helped update the infant’s parents with an interpreter, and was an excellent advocate for the baby, who had a good outcome because there was no delay. As a pediatrician, I am honored to work with Thelora and trust her judgement and appreciate her excellent communication and patient care.—Nominated by Ariana Rudnick
Kerrie McAllister, Cambridge Health Alliance
Kerri has worked in child psychiatry for more than 30 years, providing trauma-informed care to some of our most vulnerable patients. Kerrie reads a lot, and keeps up-to-date with current research and evidence-based practice. She is respected by the others on the multidisciplinary team. She is kind and supportive to our patients and families.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Pam McCabe, Cambridge Health Alliance
Pam McCabe was the nurse educator for inpatient psychiatry at the Everett campus of Cambridge Health Alliance. She has transitioned into the clinical lead roll and takes the time to understand any practice changes, and then help to teach them to the staff. She is well-organized and supports staff and patients to make sure that work is completed on time. Pam often goes to the emergency room to check on staff who have floated there, and any of our patients who are going to be admitted.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Maria Melchionno, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Maria is an incredible oncology nurse. For decades, she has provided care to underserved and marginalized cancer patients. She is a fierce advocate for their needs, and goes out of her way to make sure every patient gets the best possible care. She frequently follows up with patients by phone, patiently sits with them to teach them about their diagnosis and treatment, and answers any concerns or questions promptly. She also reaches out to other care providers (doctors, social workers, nutritionists) to make sure that the team and the patient all have the same goals and expectations.—Nominated by Lisa Weissmann
Susan Morrissey, Cambridge Health Alliance
Sue Morrissey just recently “returned” from retirement to help the Cambridge Women’s Health program at Cambridge Health Alliance as our interim nurse manager. Sue is a tireless advocate for women’s health. She is particularly attuned to the barriers and disparities that unfortunately continue to exist for women of color seeking pregnancy and reproductive health care. She put in countless hours helping our institution reach out to underserved women in need of cervical cancer screening and supported our sexual and reproductive health program with her educational skills around contraceptive care.
She recognized the silence and pain of women suffering from pregnancy loss, and developed a nursing support process. Most recently, she recognized a gap in care during the pandemic for pregnant women’s access to home blood pressure monitoring, and she swiftly developed a solution. Sue has a keen eye for patient-centered care, redressing health inequities, and providing the highest-quality nursing care to women in our communities.
While I wish her the best in retirement, I am eternally grateful for her willingness to help during these difficult times. She has a true call to service, and does so gracefully and with remarkable skill and compassion. Her compassion in her work humbles those of us fortunate enough to work beside her.—Nominated by Kate Harney
Yuly Mosca, PACE, Cambridge Health Alliance
She advocates for her patients daily. She is a patient-care champion and routinely goes the extra mile to help her patients.—Nominated by Gennady Gandelsman
Constance Nkwantah, Cambridge Health Alliance
Constance is calm, kind, supportive and always patient. We recently had a patient who was having a really difficult time and Constance walked with her, talking and supporting her for an entire shift. This kind of work is critical for our psychiatric patients because it helps them stay in control and de-escalate. Her tone and manner are respectful and courteous. We all know how much communication is nonverbal, so these strengths help make Constance an awesome nurse.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Colin O’Brien, Cambridge Health Alliance
Colin O’Brien is one of the nurses on the adult psychiatric unit. He is very dedicated and he has a gift for managing situations calmly and effectively. Colin never appears to take personally any comments made. He is able to de-escalate patients and help them think about anything that may have triggered them, and what they or the staff could do to offer support. Colin is kind, compassionate, and respectful.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Lynette O’Brien, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Lynnette provides compassionate ongoing care to marginalized and underserved patients with cancer. She has an incredible font of empathy and often spends extra time with patients and their families as they struggle through a cancer diagnosis. She has always demonstrated incredible clinical skills, and does not hesitate to alert other providers if she picks up an abnormal result, and then follows up until the problem is addressed. Her patients adore her, as do her colleagues.—Nominated by Lisa Weissmann
Leah Parciak, Cambridge Health Alliance
As the enrollment nurse at the Cambridge Health Alliance PACE Program (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly), Leah is often the first person our patients meet. Leah puts people at ease and gathers information about their medical conditions, medications they are taking, and their living situation. She listens to their stories and takes the extra time to meet with family members who share concerns about a loved one’s safety. Over the past year, Leah did not slow down. She continued to meet with people in their homes whenever possible, visiting two to three people a day.—Nominated by William Burgey
Moishe Ragieme, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Moishe showed compassion during my father’s passing while in the Cambridge Hospital ICU. We had brought my father into the hospital to find out why he was quickly declining. The next night we received a call to come in ASAP because he was crashing. When my mother and I arrived, staff were still working compressions on my father. The scene was very hectic and traumatizing, like something out of a movie.
Moishe was the off-shift supervisor, giving directions and allowing my mother and me to be there. He coached us to hold my father’s hand and keep talking to him. My father regained a pulse and stabilized. We continued talking to him, encouraging him to hold on. Moishe pulled us aside to explain what had happened, and made sure we were comfortable and accommodated—he even ran around to find me a phone charger so I could keep family updated. Moishe stayed after his shift to make sure we were OK and my father was stable.
Just a couple hours later, my father crashed again. Staff worked on him for almost an hour but this time he was not stabilized. My family and I had to make the hardest decision of our lives that early morning. We are forever grateful for the care and compassion we received that night. Thank you, Moishe and ICU staff of the Cambridge Hospital.—Nominated by Leslie Montanez
Elizabeth Ramirez, PACE, Cambridge Health Alliance
Elizabeth is an asset to our clinic. She provides excellent care. Besides giving medications, applying patches, changing dressings, giving injections, removing ear wax, and clipping nails, she also provides a safe place where patients feel welcome. She is also a good listener to triage the patient’s complaint. She also uses her ER experience to prioritize appropriate care in the clinic.—Nominated by Yanny Kavanagh
Eleanor Robinson, Cambridge Health Alliance
Eleanor, who prefers to be called Nell, came to me in March 2019 as a new graduate nurse. She barely was past first year as a nurse when COVID-19 hit and nursing as we knew it radically changed. The front lines had to make critical decisions about infection control and patient placement with guidance from Infectious Disease. Trying to keep ourselves and our patients safe became a bigger priority.. Twice, Nell’s clinical assessment and investigation skills found potential issues that might have resulted in exposure, and took steps to advocate for the patients and isolate to prevent a breech.
At times, Nell rotates into the charge nurse role on the night shift. Her leadership skills have grown as a result. She is well-known to the patients and families who have commented on her “compassion and sensitivity” to their concerns. So many of our patients felt isolated, lonely, and wanting to be with their families, yet they were so ill. Nell communicated tirelessly with patient families and facilitated FaceTime calls to help patients get through such a difficult time.
I think it is remarkable that someone so new to this profession has demonstrated so clearly what is expected of our profession. She inspires the trust that we always hear is definitive of the nursing profession. She deserves recognition for her passion to do the right thing, consistent communication, and advocacy.—Nominated by Stephanie Racca
Judy Rolph, Cambridge Health Alliance
Judy is a nurse educator for inpatient psychiatry. As you can imagine, over the past year of the pandemic we frequently changed policies, protocols, and personal protective equipment. Judy made sure that staff understood the principles and the evidence for the changes and then coached them as they were implementing. Judy always is welcoming and supportive for staff and patients. She is a great role model for the staff in psychiatry.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Paul Scire, Cambridge Health Alliance
Paul is the clinical leader on Lewis 2, a geriatric psychiatry unit where Paul worked with the patients and staff to be safe during COVID-19. We did develop a COVID-positive area on the unit to provide support for our geriatric patients who required inpatient care. This required an additional team of staff, who were essentially isolated off the unit to provide care in this area. Paul is thoughtful. He listens to his team and if there are concerns, he will address them or raise them if necessary. Paul is focused on patient and staff safety. He is a great clinical leader.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Seana Scopa, Cambridge Health Alliance
Seana works on one of the adult inpatient psychiatry units and she is a leader in the nurses’ union. Seana takes the time to listen to staff and patients and is a great problem-solver. She applies best practices in her care of patients on Cahill 4. She is a lifelong learner, and seeks out new information to enhance and improve her practice. She is also a leader and a mentor and helps to precept newly hired nurses.—Nominated by Fiona McCaughan
Lisa Valley-Shah, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance
Lisa is excellent communicator. She’s compassionate and feels the patient’s pain. Lisa has served patient populations in both emergency and normal care with great passion and pride.—Nominated by Gope Gidwani
Balaram Shrestha, Cambridge Health Alliance
Balaram is exceptionally dedicated to his patients. He inspires all of us with his compassion and care provided to all who need him.—Nominated by Isley Goulart
Barbara Stephens, CHA Primary Care Somerville, Cambridge Health Alliance
I’ve worked with Barbara for over 15 years now, and she still demonstrates compassion to all patients, no matter what the situation is. I’m proud to call her a coworker and a friend. She always goes all-out to give great/wonderful care.—Nominated by Jeannie Christie
Maria Terra, Cambridge Health Alliance
Serving the most vulnerable and underserved members of our communities is what CHA nurses do best. But stepping out of the hospital walls to bring awareness and information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines takes extra dedication and love.
This is what Maria Terra does. Via CHA’s CommunityConnects program, she engages with faith leaders, social media influencers, and community partners in her native languages of Portuguese and Spanish. Together with another CHA nurse, Soimese Verdieu, she helps address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the immigrant communities.
Maria Terra engages people from all over the greater Boston area to talk about “the dangers of COVID-19 in a language they understand,” says Elie Rojas from La Comunidad. Speaking Portuguese and Spanish, Maria was born in Uruguay and moved with her family to Brazil when she was 5 years old. As an adult, Maria moved to Boston and worked for the Somerville Hospital as an interpreter for 15 years before she earned her APRN [advanced practice registered nurse] degree and became a primary care provider.
“One of the things Maria talks a lot about are the social determinants of health. She recognizes that our immigrant population is already at a disadvantage and the pandemic exacerbated that,” says Roja. “We are so thankful in Everett to have had Maria speaking to our residents. Thank you, Maria, for your dedication and commitment to help ‘nuestro pueblo’.”
After helping people all day in the clinical set, this frontline hero embraces community work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through education. Her commitment and dedication make her stand out among the best.—Nominated by Jamila Xible
Soimese Verdieu, Cambridge Health Alliance
This is what Soimese Verdieu does. Via CHA’s CommunityConnects program, Soimese engages with faith leaders, social media influencers, and community partners in their native Haitian Creole to help address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the immigrant communities.
Reverend Myrlande DesRosier from Everett commended these efforts, saying, “With so many people in our community being hesitant about taking the vaccine, Soimese has been a major voice providing information about COVID-19 so Haitians can make informed health and safety decisions.” Soimese Verdieu was born in a small town in Haiti and is the youngest of 14 children. Moving to Boston with her family at age 11, Soimese made a conscious decision to become a primary care provider and provide compassionate care to those in need. And this is exactly what she is doing.
After helping people all day in the clinical set, this frontline hero embraces community work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through education. The commitment and dedication of this professional is what makes her stand out among the best.—Nominated by Jamila Xible
Erik Westhaver-Ford, Cambridge Health Alliance
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously impacted nursing in many ways. Erik represents the best of us. He stepped up and took on a clinical leader position at a newly formed acute care clinic focused on treating COVID-19 patients and keeping them out of the hospital whenever possible. Through ever-changing workflows, a range of severity in patients, and evolving knowledge of the virus, Erik remained upbeat and helped to create a positive work environment that is collaborative and encouraging. Erik’s flexibility and extremely solid clinical practice has impacted thousands of patients in this last year. At a time when nurses were needed, Erik stepped up in a big way.—Nominated by Amberly Ticotsky
Cape Cod Healthcare
Julie Allen, Cape Cod Hospital,
Nominated by Sandy Stevens
Crystal Giampietro, ICU, Cape Cod Hospital.
My mother was in the ICU with COVID-19, and not doing well. Crystal went the extra mile to care for her and comfort my family when my mom was alone due to visiting restrictions. I believe she was an angel for my mother.—Nominated by Sandra Holtz
Jose Garcia, VNA of Cape Cod, Cape Cod Healthcare
Jose is a compassionate RN. He has been a nurse for almost 20 years and a hospice nurse case manager for the past 15. It takes a special person to care for hospice patients. He cares for them as if they are his own family. He educates not only the patient, but also all their family members during a very hard time. He gives his all for patients as well as coworkers. I get to witness this daily.—Nominated by Kara Galasso
Elma Makarutsa, Care Dimensions
I will be forever grateful to Elma for the care she provided to my mother-in-law in the final days of her life. On the day my mother-in-law was discharged from the hospital back to her assisted living facility, it was clear to me that her health and well-being were rapidly declining. She was in pain and frightened. Elma, her nurse from Care Dimensions, met me at the assisted living facility. It was as if an angel swooped in, or maybe Wonder Woman…you know what I mean. Her first concern was relieving my mother-in-law’s pain, which she did immediately. Then she started to make some calls, and within a couple of hours my mother-in-law was admitted to “Heaven on Earth” a.k.a. Kaplan Hospice House in Danvers. I told Elma she should run for public office because this wonderful woman knows how to get things done! My mother-in-law died a few days later, peacefully and with dignity. Elma’s job is not an easy one and the next time she is driving home after a difficult day and wondering why she chose this profession, I want her to remember me and my mother-in-law, and know that people like us are the reason. I am a nurse too, but Elma is a nurse’s nurse, which is the greatest compliment one nurse can give to another. Thank you, Elma, Care Dimensions, and Kaplan House.—Nominated by Mary Reardon
CareOne at Randolph
Courtney Alongi, CareOne at Randolph
She never gave up.—Nominated by Maureen Battistone
Maryann Duclos, CareOne at Randolph
Maryann is a very headstrong nurse. She advocates for every single person who walks through the unit doors. Maryann will sit with patients who are scared and make sure they are OK and well taken care of. She sees that they get the utmost care and respect. Maryann communicates with other nurses, clinical staff, and the residents about their care in ways they can understand. I strongly believe that she should be recognized for all that she does.—Nominated by Bailey Duclos
Caring Hospice Services of Massachusetts
Alyssa Jacavone, Caring Hospice Services of Massachusetts
Alyssa is always very attentive to my needs. She is sensitive to the issues at hand. Her competencies include troubleshooting and adjusting routines as needed, expertly operating all medical equipment, and knowing who to contact when I am not responding to medication. She is a patient listener to both my expressed and unexpressed needs. Alyssa gives clear instructions and motivates me to cooperate with her recommendations. I trust her judgment and knowledge of medicine. Her sincere caring and kindness are evident in her manner and everything she does for me. I trust her completely.—Nominated by Sister Damon Nolan
Tina Soares, Caring Hospice Services of Massachusetts
Tina, the director of Caring Hospice, will go out and do visits and sub in if a nurse or home health aide can’t make it, while still keeping up with her director duties. You can find her doing anything from medicating patients to putting curlers in their hair to make them feel better about their appearance. She is thoughtful and makes sure every patient and their family feels cared for and supported as they transition to the end of their lives. She shows true compassion and empathy in all that she does!—Nominated by Alyssa Jacavone
Kathy Baker, Carney Hospital
Kathy Baker is the senior director of patient care services at Steward Carney Hospital. In this role, she played a major part in leading staff during the COVID-19 surges. She is the first leader to arrive to work in the morning and the last one to leave at night. Kathy has a hands-on approach to leadership. Her clinical skills and administrative expertise allow her to swiftly shift gears from helping in a code to filling a staffing hole. She is a tireless advocate for her nurses and puts patients first. She has had a long career of service to the Carney community.—Nominated by Susan Belton
Center for Extended Care at Amherst
Lindsay Reed, Center for Extended Care at Amherst
Lindsay really went all-out this past year. Working through COVID-19 has been one of the most difficult things. But Lindsay continued to persevere. Months after our first wave had passed, we got another positive case. Lindsay went out of her way to make sure this patient was cared for and knew just how much she was loved, whether it was sitting at her bedside, playing her favorite music in her room, or taking extra time each day to FaceTime with her family. Lindsay treats every patient like her own family and provides exceptional care, taking time each day to understand exactly what they need. She is the picture-perfect image of the nurse I would want caring for me and my family.—Nominated by Trisha Earl
Charlton Memorial Hospital
Sarah St.Amour, Charlton Memorial Hospital
Sarah is float nurse who was chosen to serve on the COVID Care Unit and received training to care for patients with this disease. She was photographed in the Fall River Herald News article holding the hand of a COVID patient, showing what it truly means to be a compassionate, caring nurse during this pandemic.—Nominated by Cindy St.Amour
Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center
Joanna Lynn, Charlwell House Health & Rehabilitation Center
When my daughter, Joanna Lynn Zilfi, died suddenly of heart failure last June, we were overwhelmed with beautiful messages from her coworkers, patients, and their families. As evidenced by numerous letters, Joanna was a loving and skillful nurse who made a difference. She was a very humble, giving person who never sought thanks, recognition, or accolades. When COVID-19 spread, she selflessly left our home and isolated herself to protect us. Here are some excerpts from a few of those letters:
“We were so grateful that early morning in November that Joanna was working. She cared and was so compassionate during our father’s last hours. It is something we will never forget. She was such a wonderful human being, you would have been so proud of her, I could go on and on, but I can’t imagine how difficult things must be but I just felt that I had to thank you for raising such a kind, sweet and amazing human being who became such a wonderful nurse.”
“She was amazing and we were lucky to have her caring for our dad. I know they are together and if he needs a good nurse, he has the best around.”
“I loved that girl. She was such a good nurse.”
In a clipboard she brought to work, we saw that Joanna had taped a photo and note a patient had given her. The note expressed so perfectly the meaningful and therapeutic connection that happens among nurse and patient. This patient had touched Joanna’s heart as did so many of those she cared for. Thank you to the Boston Globe for saluting Joanna and all of the other dedicated and talented nurses. Joanna would have thought herself undeserving, but she also would have truly appreciated it.—Nominated by Catherine Zilfi
Coachman Square at Woodbridge
Diana McSherry, Medical Facility, Coachman Square at Woodbridge
Diana is more than just an asset to Coachman Square—she is an integral piece of the foundation. Her knowledge, skills, and abilities are prominent in all she does. Diana plays many roles at CSW and can change hats in an instant. She takes pride in all she does and enjoys teaching residents, staff, and families to help improve their own knowledge base. She is careful not to be punitive, but rather shines a light on the educational aspect of a coachable moment. Through the pandemic, Diana handled the building without the help of a designee. This would be incredibly difficult in normal circumstances—through a pandemic, it should have been impossible—but not for Diana. She poured every ounce of herself into the community—coming in at the crack of dawn, staying well past a normal hour, learning and re-learning new policies and then effectively teaching what she had just learned to everyone else. She was and remains a pillar in the eyes of the staff, residents and families. She is truly the best of the best, and it isn’t hard to see why.—Nominated by Sarah Malaspina
Diane is the definition of a champion. During the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, she not only had to take on the role of significant information processor in overload, but had to keep this building up and running like a ship raging through the storm of the century, balancing all the struggles confronted 24/7. She deserves respect from all of us in this community, and all the other communities she supported, to get us where we are now. We are all grateful for her commitment and dedication to our community, residents, and staff during these uncharted territories. She demonstrates the utmost care, responsibility, precaution, and watchful attention to every detail.—Nominated by Deborah Meehan
Commonwealth Care Alliance
Kimberly Bailey, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Kim exemplifies what a great nurse should be. She is flexible, meets members where they are, and responds to their greatest need in the moment. She is adept at nursing skills and familiar with every member’s treatment plan. But Kim’s true gift helps patients in more personal ways. Kim and I shared a member with several psychosocial issues and complex medical conditions. He was homeless for decades and had a history of non-adherence. He had substance use disorders, diabetes, and cardiac issues. He also lost his sister, who was his major support person. Kim saw him monthly for two years to provide medication management and monitoring. She listened to him and observed him carefully, providing insights that led to improvements in care. She encouraged him and monitored his progress. Without doing something he could do for himself, Kim helped him imagine and pursue a different life.
He has housing for the first time in decades. He quit drugs and alcohol. He lost weight and conquered his diabetes, improving his cardiac status and reducing his chronic pain. Kim didn’t do any of this work for him—she helped him believe he could do it and offered practical guidance. Kim never stops questioning and learning. She is always ready to adopt a new role or learn a new skill. She enthusiastically volunteered for the COVID-19 field response team, who have been visiting members in their homes during the pandemic. She learned a pill dispenser system and introduced it to many CCA members, leading to a cooperative relationship between the company and CCA.
She understands and supports the strengths of her team members while offering her own. She embodies so many nursing theories, especially that nursing is a process of fostering independence to promote healing.—Nominated by Catherine Chambers
Tanya Dwyer, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Tanya embodies every quality that makes an exceptional nurse. She is knowledgeable, compassionate, and highly intelligent. Her intelligence encompasses both “book smarts” and common sense. She shares her knowledge with members and colleagues in a way that is understandable. She is patient, tactful, and fair. Tanya was a team leader while she was transitioning into her new role as director of chronic disease programs at CCA. During this time, she continued to ensure that care teams met to discuss and coordinate treatment plans for members in need. She provided guidance and ensured timely collaboration and response so that members could receive the care and support they need. Tanya is an amazing leader and nurse. She has the ability to lead, teach, and provide care to members and to her colleagues.—Nominated by Mary Murdock
Laura Espinosa, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Laura took on a new patient who was recently discharged from a skilled nursing facility. This member had significant food insecurity, so he was discharged with a plan for home-delivered meals. Unfortunately, no one realized that he did not have a freezer or microwave to store or heat the meals he was supposed to eat. This member also had no ability to get food for himself and no one else in his life who could get food for him. We learned this on a Friday afternoon, going into the weekend. Rather than let this member go hungry or send him back to the hospital, Laura personally purchased him shelf-stable foods for the weekend and arranged food delivery through a local chain to keep him fed for several days until a new plan could be put into place. Her generosity and ingenuity make her a true ally and partner to CCA members.—Nominated by Kate Felicio
Melissa Ginnings, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Melissa is truly one-of-a-kind. Her compassion and dedication to her patients resonate through everything she does. CCA members know that Melissa is knowledgeable and passionate about her profession.
Melissa has been willing to see members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite having to quarantine away from her family several times over the past year, she continued to visit patients who had been exposed to the virus. She put her own happiness aside to provide the critical care her patients needed to stay healthy.
One of Melissa’s patients is a CCA palliative care member who has COPD and congestive heart failure. She frequently rearranges her schedule to see this member, and is always prompt when the member needs a new assessment or medication order. Melissa even advocated for the member to receive needed mobility equipment and a hospital bed to ensure the best quality of life possible. Melissa has another member with end-stage lung disease. She can tell from phone conversations when the member is struggling or needs reassurance, and she makes sure to visit often. Melissa provides status updates to the member’s Boston-based providers because it is often too difficult for the member to drive to their offices. Partly because of Melissa’s support, the member has remained healthy and out of the hospital throughout this past year.
Melissa is the epitome of what a nurse should be. She always takes the time to educate our team about diseases, medications, or procedures and has a calming nature when she speaks in any setting. She is a great nurse practitioner who I would trust with my own family.—Nominated by Kelly Pelletz
Serah Guilbe, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Serah always takes that extra step to provide exemplary care to our members. I have partnered with her to support several members, and she is both a patient teacher and willing student. Recently, a member reported that she had nothing to eat. Serah cleared her schedule to see the member immediately and determine if she was being neglected by her family and community supports. Her assessment was both in-depth and culturally sensitive. Serah is also always willing to give a little extra time and effort. She is an ambassador for LifePod, a remote patient monitoring device that connects members with their care team, and a fit-mask tester. Serah has also assisted other nurses with in-home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Serah brings positivity to the team and to our members, and is a pleasure to work with.—Nominated by Kimberly Bailey
Benedicta Kumahia, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Bene has several patients with quadriplegia and works with them after hours and on weekends when they have urgent needs to ensure that they can stay happy and healthy at home, avoiding hospital stays. She is skilled at addressing their medical needs and has a strong sense of what’s important for them psychosocially to live their best lives. One of the patients we both supported passed away last year, and she spent weeks comforting his family and making sure the funeral arrangements went smoothly. Bene has demonstrated compassion and composure in other difficult situations. One of our newest team members noted that on his first outing with Bene, she remained calm and had a “soft voice that would make most people feel comfortable.” The team member said they saw a very complex patient, which could affect any professional, but Bene was effective and efficient and demonstrated compassion and strength even in the toughest of circumstances. Our patients are lucky to have Bene as their provider.—Nominated by Jennifer Pinizzotto
Jessica Menard, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Nurse Practitioner Jessica Menard is always willing to help her colleagues provide excellent care to their members, whether it’s an extra face-to-face visit or obtaining necessary medical supplies. She personally purchased and delivered medical equipment for a member who needed the item to help manage his condition. Jessica constantly advocates for access to care for those who have previously had trouble getting the services they need. In the short amount of time that I’ve worked with Jessica, she has proven to be resourceful and thoughtful. She is willing to go the extra mile to help her colleagues, like offering to bring them food or medicine when they have to call out sick. Our team and CCA benefit from her kind heart and giving spirit!—Nominated by Janae Jackson
John Njoroge, Commonwealth Care Alliance
John Njoroge is an excellent nurse, very passionate about his job, reliable, easy to speak with, a team player, and caring toward his members and his team. John and I share a member, and I was introduced to this member’s care team when John identified a need for an advanced practice clinician. The member has diabetes, which can be especially challenging to manage. John worked with me, the other RNs on the team, our nurse manager, and our diabetes manager to assist this member in the community. He worked tirelessly with the endocrinologist’s office and with staff on our care team to ensure the member could have better control over their diabetes. This member’s frequent ER trips have lessened since John took the lead. John continues to monitor this member in the community to ensure all their needs are met.
John is a great resource and coworker, and always makes himself available to help. He truly goes all-out for his members to make sure their needs are met.—Nominated by Jessica Menard
Nancy Ogasapian, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Nancy Ogasapian is one of the best nurses I have worked with in my 45 years in health care. Nancy is kind and compassionate to everyone who she cares for in her life, be it a patient, family member, or friend. I’ve known Nancy close to five years, and she’s been a wonderful friend and colleague to me and others on the team. She works until she gets the job done. There have been several times when members who are not on her panel call her directly for assistance and she helps them—no questions asked. She does it from the kindness of her heart. There are very few times during our careers when something extraordinary happens to us. We work tirelessly day in and day out—often without recognition. It’s due time that Nancy receives recognition for the many years that she has devoted to the health-care field and the many people that she has touched with her kindness and compassion.—Nominated by Celeste Oria
Helen Pang, Commonwealth Care Alliance
At the start of the pandemic, Helen immediately volunteered to become a frontline nurse practitioner on the Field Response team. In this role, she was required to go into the homes of CCA members with chronic conditions to ensure they continued to receive the care and support they needed. She was also required to visit members who were sick with COVID-19 to ensure their health and well-being. Helen quickly pivoted into a primary care role for many of our homebound members and acted as the eyes and ears of clinicians working remotely. She also earned the trust of CCA members who had historically been hard to engage. She provided top-quality primary and episodic care for people who were isolated in their homes and at very high risk of becoming seriously ill.
Helen was calm and levelheaded during a time filled with uncertainly and anxiety. She braved very hot days and snowstorms, putting on PPE out of the trunk of her car before going into patients’ homes and apartments. She was a leader and teacher as our workforce started to reenter the field to conduct home visits. Helen has been selfless and brave and rose to the occasion to assist where she was needed and offer exceptional care to patients who are frequently underserved.—Nominated by Cara Russo
Kerrilyn Pessin, Commonwealth Care Alliance
I’m nominating Kerrilyn for the exceptional care she has provided to CCA members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kerrilyn supports CCA members with complex needs through our patient-centered, home-based primary care services. When CCA offices closed due to the pandemic, Kerrilyn volunteered to continue seeing members as part of the Field Response Team. Through this role, Kerrilyn met an elderly CCA member who contacted CCA when she wasn’t feeling well and was unable to access her primary care provider. Kerrilyn was dispatched to assess and treat the member for her concerns.
Kerrilyn immediately knew that this member needed more than one visit. The member was significantly ill, and urgently needed medical intervention and durable medical equipment. As part of Kerrilyn’s treatment plan, a rehab specialist evaluated the member and ordered the necessary equipment and an LPN drew labs that pointed to larger health concerns. Kerrilyn spoke candidly with the member about her goals of care and wishes, one of which was that she wanted to remain in her home.
After a trip to the ER revealed that the member had cancer, Kerrilyn coordinated in-home hospice care and worked closely with the hospice nurse until the member passed away peacefully at home in March 2020. Kerrilyn remained committed to honoring the member’s wishes by helping her get the proper care and equipment she needed to be comfortable at home.—Nominated by Heather Korencsic
Christina Ramos, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Christina Ramos, licensed practical nurse manager, works mostly behind the scenes on important projects that help improve the quality, efficiency, and timeliness of care. Christina sets the standard in terms of meeting important goals, optimizing team efficiency, and leveraging new insights and education to drive improvement. Soon after she joined CCA, she worked with the LPN team to implement the “teach-back method,” which emphasizes that health-care providers must confirm that patients understand what is being explained to them. This method has now been implemented across several programs, including those for members with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Christina’s impact on CCA is vast, and this past year proved just how invaluable she is. At the start of the pandemic, she was instrumental in helping the LPN team set up for remote work, thus eliminating disruption in patient outreach and ensuring care continuity for those who needed it most. Christina always makes herself available to provide extra education and training if needed. She helps me be a better nurse.—Nominated by Margaret Carter
Christina is the clinical manager of the LPN team for CCA, an organization that cares for medically, behaviorally, and socially complex members in their communities. During the pandemic, Christina led many efforts to keep our clinical staff out in the community, caring for our members when other avenues were no longer available. Even before the official start of the pandemic, Christina made sure her staff were fit-tested onto N95 respirators and well-versed in PPE use. On March 13, 2020, when others went home, her staff remained in the field. She took on fit-testing for our clinical staff across the state, trained them to properly don and doff PPE, and supported PPE procurement and management. These efforts supported thousands of member contacts. For many, this would be the only in-person care they would receive for a year, and they were able to receive it in the safety of their homes.
Several years ago, Christina stood up best-practice flu vaccine protocols. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Christina’s knowledge and experience gave us traction to quickly stand up COVID vaccine clinics for our front-line staff across the state, and then start vaccinating our homebound members. Christina herself, amidst all of these responsibilities, went out into the community to prioritize vaccine delivery to our members. Under Christina’s leadership, our demonstration to the Department of Public Health of responsibly and effectively managing vaccine distribution earned CCA the honor of vaccinating homebound Massachusetts at the request of Governor Charlie Baker and his team. Christina was an easy choice to lead this work. Her success is due to her determination, high standards, communication, collaboration, organizational skills, and dedication to our members and communities. On top of that, she’s in school to become an RN and is a mother of five! Her actions and ability have spread hope across Massachusetts.—Nominated by Jennifer Samale
Ken Rupp, Commonwealth Care Alliance
One of our newest team members reported that when he first started working for CCA, Ken called him to break the ice and to provide more insights about CCA’s programs and the patients. Ken told him stories from his years as a nurse and explained that there are good and bad days in this profession. The team member appreciated that Ken was able to share the reality of working in the field and how to maintain a positive attitude. Ken reminded him that although the work we do can sometimes feel underappreciated, it is critical for ensuring our patients get the care they need. Ken has a humble demeanor and a cool sense of humor about everything, which makes him very pleasant to work with.—Nominated by Jennifer Pinizzotto
Elizabeth Shaw, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Liz Shaw is simply one of the best people I know. She has lived her entire life focused on helping others. She has dealt with CCA members who have complex cases and she maintains compassion and level-headedness throughout every interaction. Her ability to calm members and still go the extra mile for them is amazing and inspiring. I am amazed by her ability to keep a sense of humor, formulate plans for members that include a home visit even after the workday was completed, and maintain good rapport with her members. Her interactions with members are great lessons for me, and today Liz uses this amazing superpower to train others on the team to do the same.—Nominated by Matthew Day
Rosa Torres, Commonwealth Care Alliance
I nominate Rosa Torres for her hard work, compassion, professionalism, and kind heart.—Nominated by Denise Quinones
Natalie Zharova, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Natalie Zharova is a care partner on Team 15, a group of CCA clinicians who serve the North Shore and Middlesex County. She consistently exceeds expectations. Natalie has stepped into an informal leadership role among her peers, who often look to her for support and advice. Natalie has also stepped up to take on several of her direct supervisor’s responsibilities when needed. This includes facilitating team meetings, entering case conference activities, providing support to the team, and facilitating the team huddle—all critical to ensuring cohesive and efficient team collaboration and support of our members.
Natalie builds strong relationships with her members by working closely with their primary care providers, providing documentation in their electronic health records. She also provides members all the necessary support, education, and services to help them to remain independent in their homes and communities. Natalie provides high-quality care and excellent customer service by proactively reaching out to members with complex needs. She consistently performs to the highest standards despite the obstacles we’ve faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Natalie resolves difficult situations and cases by collaborating with her manager and with others across the organization and provider network.
Natalie is incredibly knowledgeable. She shares information calmly and clearly, and with a positive attitude. Natalie is one of those nurses who will make that one extra call or ask that one extra question to get results.—Nominated by Marta Azizi
Gus Desgroseilliers, Concord Hospital
Gus is the epitome of kind, compassionate, patient-centered care. He is competent, compassionate, and always dedicated to the patient’s welfare. He has put in long hours like the rest of us in this COVID-19 pandemic, but also looks forward to caring for those around him—his brothers, his coworkers, his family, and his partners. He is also focused on providing up-to-date care and higher education for those he serves. Gus, to me, is the man to strive for, always smiling even in the most trying circumstances (including dealing with three helicopters landing.) Gus personifies cheerful service.—Nominated by Ben Savage
COVID Field Hospitals
Becca DeCoteau Ell, COVID Field Hospital (Boston)
I had the pleasure of working with Becca, providing care to COVID-19 patients across the Commonwealth. She was the spirit of the operation. Becca came to the center every day, ready to care with an energy and compassion that was contagious. She carried this passion to her work at the DCU Center in Worcester during round two of the state’s COVID field operations. Always willing to help, she quickly identified a need to support patients post-discharge, when many lacked basic clothing and supplies to survive outside. She started a donation site, Nurses for Hope, collecting clothes, shoes, and necessities for those in need. Becca is pursuing an advanced degree in nursing, and I am thankful for the future of nursing with her leading the way.—Nominated by Kim Daly
Sharon Rudinski, COVID Field Hospital
Sharon has been the manager of the field hospital in the DCU Center for both COVID-19 spikes in Worcester. There is no book on how to run a field hospital like this, so it was really her determination, hard work, dedication, grit, and compassion that led to success. Leaving her normal job as a trauma nurse at UMass Memorial and her family to lead this team for over 60 hours a week really is just the start of her contribution.—Nominated by Josh Kudo
CPS Health Care
Marcia Norat, CPS Health Care
Marcia was administering COVID-19 vaccines to several staff members at the Plymouth County House of Corrections. One staff member left the room in a rush, stating she felt like she was going to be ill. Marcia immediately followed her to the rest room, where the patient suddenly developed nausea, tachypnea, and epistaxis. Marcia called for an ambulance right away as she noticed the signs of anaphylactic reaction and administered one EpiPen.
Unfortunately, the respiratory distress did not improve, so she administered an additional EpiPen. At that point, the site physician arrived, and Marcia remained at the scene providing nursing care. This was a severe anaphylactic reaction that required intramuscular Benadryl and four Epi-pens. Thanks to her fast response and knowledge of a severe allergic reaction and calm, focused assessment and nursing care, the patient fully recovered.—Nominated by Deb Jezard
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Stéphanie Ann Benoit, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Stéphanie is an angel of wisdom who blends the gifts of competence with tender care. She has been one of my key infusion nurses for the last two years as a stage IV ovarian cancer patient. She is never too busy to answer gently, but in detail, any questions that I may bring. Often when I mention her name to other infusion nurses the response is: “She is the best.” When I know she is my nurse of the day I breathe deeply and whisper “all will be well,” no matter what else that day brings.—Nominated by Sister Nancy Sheridan
Meghan Cifrino, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Meghan has been my neuro-oncology nurse since I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in February 2019. She has gone out of her way to anticipate and respond to the problems that arise with cancer care ever since. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown made her job even more challenging this year, as in-person visits were curtailed. Meghan’s proactive use of email to communicate directly with me and the rest of the medical team have made all the difference. She was the team lead for fielding questions about chemotherapy, other medications, and side effects as I completed chemotherapy remotely and went on to long-term monitoring. She responded to situations where I pushed my limits as I recovered from chemo, and provided direction on medication, appointments, and all the details of treatment—all remotely. Her grace, intelligence, good humor, and compassion have made me (and my family) feel that we were never alone. “What would Meghan say?” is a standard question in our household. We are forever grateful.—Nominated by Christopher Barnett
Kimberly Coleman, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Kimberly provides care to patients with lymphoma, receiving the groundbreaking treatment of Car T-cell therapy. Kimberly can make a personal connection with patients and prepare them for the treatment, and makes them feel well cared for. Kimberly cares about every single patient and their success and journey through treatment, as I know others who’ve been under her care and the message is consistent: compassionate, caring, and personally engaging.—Nominated by Ken Karnes
Patricia Conway, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
I was so nervous, and she was so calming and loving. Patricia explained every step of treatment in a way that I could understand. She’s very good in what she does. I trusted her wholeheartedly. She made me feel so at ease.—Nominated by Michele Fitzgibbons
Alexandra Distaso, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
In April 2020, I was diagnosed with a second form of cancer, multiple myeloma, for which I have been undergoing treatment during some of the most trying times for medical institutions. Fortunately for me, it was detected at an early stage, and I have been responding to treatment. Also fortunately for me, I’ve had Ally Distaso as my nurse practitioner. Ally is everything you would want on your treatment team. She is caring, knowledgeable, and always keeps me up to date on my treatment. I look forward to being able to thank her in person in the not-too-distant future.—Nominated by Michael Glass
Lisa Doherty, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Lisa worked hard throughout the pandemic to care for patients of the neuro-oncology team. Many patients were already struggling to manage their diagnosis before the pandemic. She was flexible in making appointments, providing support, ensuring access to treatments and medications, and individualizing care to match the safety and comfort level of patients and their families.—Nominated by Sara Panzeri
Chisom Ebele, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Nurse Chisom directed and administered my chemo infusions over a six-month period, and outside of having to receive treatment, I looked forward to seeing her every time. She is efficient, calm, proficient in her skills, and a pleasure to know. For anyone struggling with life-threatening illness, you want Chisom on your team.—Nominated by Ken Karnes
Megan English, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Thank you so much, Megan, for everything you did for Michael. We were so lucky that you were Michael’s nurse. Megan is an exceptional nurse who cares so deeply about her patients and their families. We looked forward to every appointment in Dana Farber as we knew Megan would be around, and that thanks to her my husband would receive the best care.—Nominated by Mel Murphy Mullan
Tina Flaherty, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Tina is exactly the kind of caring provider we need with a cancer diagnosis. She spends appropriate time with us and is always there to answer our questions. She responds to our emails when we need answers or medications. I am blessed to have her as a provider.—Nominated by Mark Schulthess
Hannah Freedman, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
I have been seeing Hannah for immunotherapy infusions for three years. At first it was every two weeks. Now it’s once a month, and very soon it will be every six weeks. I know eventually that there will be a day when I don’t see her anymore. And while not needing treatment for cancer is something to celebrate, I will miss Hannah’s relentlessly upbeat personality and unwavering support. I jokingly refer to her as my life coach, because she is so invested in me as a person, and not just as a patient. Maybe the appropriate term for this is “friend.” I don’t know how the team at Dana Farber knew I needed someone like Hannah in my life, but I am forever grateful to them, and to her.—Nominated by Christopher Censullo
Kimberly Huff, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Kim was my infusion nurse during my breast cancer chemo. She was with me for all eight treatments over 16 weeks. Given the pandemic, I couldn’t bring anyone in with me, and she quickly became like family. She was a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader, and wonderful caretaker. I look back on an extremely challenging time happy that I had such a wonderful and caring person by my side. She was the epitome of professional, but with so much compassion. She wasn’t required to sit with me, but she did, and quickly became someone I confided in about how I was feeling, both emotionally and physically. Going through cancer treatment can be a very isolating and scary time, but I never felt that because of the constant support and encouragement from Kim. She always explained what she was injecting and then how it would make me feel, offered tips to help me feel better or help with nausea, and then encouraged me throughout. I look back at my time at DFCI and smile because of her.—Nominated by Melissa Hayden
Jennifer Mosgrove, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Jen is a great nurse who offers exceptional care. Not only does she care about her patients, but also cares about their families. Thank you so much, Jen, for the wonderful care you gave Michael over the past few years. We really appreciate it.—Nominated by Mel Murphy Mullan
Alexandra Mulloy, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Ally is an incredible nurse practitioner and my husband Michael was very lucky to be under her care. She is so knowledgeable and always came up with great solutions. She checked in with us to see how we were and was always at the end of the phone and email. Thank you so much, Ally, for everything you did for us over the past few years. Michael was a big fan of yours and loved when you were his NP.—Nominated by Mel Murphy Mullan
Jennifer Stefanik, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Jennifer has been my lead neuro oncology nurse since I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in February 2019. Her compassionate, intelligent, and proactive care have been amazing, but never more so than over this past year. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown made a challenging job even more difficult, and Jenn and her team rose to the occasion immediately, arranging telemedicine visits, answering questions, and keeping in touch via email for a year now. She has worked tirelessly on my behalf, helping get me through the end of chemotherapy and on to monitoring, all while getting me quick, authoritative answers on medication, activity levels and so on. All along, she has done this with grace, intelligence, and compassion. I could not be in better hands, and my wife, son, and I are deeply grateful.—Nominated by Christopher Barnett
Katherine Stephans, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Thank you, Katey, for guiding me through the most difficult time of my life. Your patience, encouragement, and good humor meant so much to me and always will.—Nominated by Christopher Censullo
Katey provided care during my cancer treatments and not only was she fully proficient in the medical treatments, she was also compassionate toward me and my family. Katey made me feel well cared for, and important to her and Dana Farber. She is an excellent caregiver.—Nominated by Ken Karnes
Department of Public Health
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
I nominate the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). As the program’s director, I honor these nurses on our patients’ behalf.
SANE’s approach every patient—regardless of gender, ethnicity, or immigration status—with compassion, and in a nonjudgmental and trauma-informed manner. They provide patients with control over all aspects of their care and outline their options, such as medications that can help prevent assault-related pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. They also offer the option of a forensic examination and evidence collection, regardless of whether the patient decides to report the assault to police. Although police reporting is not required for SANE services, if a patient does report to law enforcement and the case goes to court, SANE will testify about the care that they provided.
The dedication and compassion that SANEs bring to their work is profound, as is the impact that such care can have on starting someone on their path to healing.—Nominated by Joan Meunier-Sham
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