EndoNurse MVP 2014: Meet Your Nominees

On a daily basis, endoscopy team members meet new challenges and deliver cutting-edge care tailored to meet individual patient needs. Safety is at the forefront of these efforts and it takes unparalleled teamwork to get the job done. EndoNurse has the honor of recognizing some of the many dedicated professionals associated with endoscopy suites across the United States, Canada―and across the world―with our Most Valuable Professional (MVP) special supplement.

Voting is now closed. Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners.

Here are the 2014 nominees.

Juanita Aitken-English

Where navigational bronchoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound and bronchothermoplasty are happening, there's got to be an endo suite team member (or more) who really knows his or her stuff.

Juanita Aitken-English, RN, ADN, CGRN, is the Ellis Medicine, Schenectady, N.Y., nurse "Super User" for those procedures.

According to nominator and Ellis staff nurse Winnefred Akangbou, RN, BS, CGRN, Aitken-English's "super" status also spills into mentoring and to community service.

"She is a resource to new nurses, students and also to the experienced nurse," Akangbou said. "She is the go-to person for all the procedures and is always ready to give a helping hand to anyone. She finds time to be involved in the community activities such as Blue Star Mothers of America, Marine Corp League and Ladies Auxiliary of the Guilderland Fire Department."

The energy continues in a quest for even more credentials. Akangbou said Aitken-English, who has over 30 years nursing experience, two decades devoted to GI, is now considering getting her BSN.

"Juanita is well respected by doctors, colleagues and technicians in the department for her standard of care," Akangbou said.

Donna Cadena

Tanner Medical Center Villa Rica, in Villa Rica, Ga., has only one certified endoscope reprocessor, and it's Donna Cadena. Cadena also fills an additional role as educator for some very important folks―patients and surveyors―according to nominator Shirley Lewis, RN, Tanner's surgical services manager.

Lewis said that when endoscope reprocessing got national media attention, Donna was there to answer any questions patients raised.

"She put their minds at ease by explaining her role, her certification, and her involvement with SGNA to ensure manufacturer guidelines are followed at all times," Lewis said. "At our last Joint Commission accreditation visit, Donna was on hand to accept questions related to endoscope reprocessing. Our surveyor was extremely impressed with Donna's knowledge and enthusiasm, and our GI center received 'no recommendations.'"

Lisa Chasmar

Lisa Chasmar, ADN, is not only her unit's endoscopy charge nurse, but also its patient and new employee advocate, according to nominator Aimee Wentz, BSN, procedural surgical service's unit based educator at Hardin Memorial Hospital, in Elizabethtown, Ky. "Lisa advocates for our new employees during and after orientation to be sure they gain the skills they need to succeed," Wentz said. "And she is, above all, a fabulous patient advocate. She has a unbiased attitude and treats everyone fairly. When Lisa is around, the patients will receive the best care possible."

Chasmar has 15 years of endoscopy-unit experience. Wentz said Chasmar's influence doesn't stop at advocacy; she is also the unit's "go-to" for any questions. "She has an awesome working relationship with our surgeons and physicians," Wentz said. "They know they can come to her with any needs they have."

Doreen Cokeley

Some people get mail full of bills and junk, while others get mail with appreciative notes from patients. The latter would be the experience of one staff endoscopy nurse at Ridgewood, N.J.'s The Valley Hospital.

"Doreen Cokeley is always courteous and respectful to patients, physicians and staff," said nominator and hospital GI clinical educator Barbara Zuccala, MSN, RN, CGRN. "She is respectful and sensitive to their cultural, religious and diverse needs. She frequently receives complimentary notes from patients who appreciated her compassion."

Cokeley, BSN, RN, CGRN, has had several decades of experience in the endoscopy unit and continues to make a difference for patients and coworkers, according to Zuccala. "With her knowledge of essential oils, she has administered them to anxious patients," Zuccala said. "The patients always appreciate this care, and in most instances, offering the essential oils alleviates their anxiety, especially pre-procedure. She is considered a colleague, mentor and a friend to all the staff in our unit."

Mary Davis

If you were to fly over Zachary, La., late at night, you might see a reading light on in a room belonging to one of Lane Regional Medical Center's endoscopy suite members. Mary Davis, a GI endoscopy tech, has unique reading habits, according to nominator Courtney Day, LPN, a nurse educator at Lane.

"Mary is known for taking user guides and operational manuals home to read and study so she is familiar with all the equipment," Day said. "She can trouble shoot problems as they arise and ensure that equipment is in perfect working order for each patient procedure."

Jason Gwyn, RN, director of the endoscopy and infusion unit at Lane, confirmed that Davis as a dedicated healthcare worker.

"I have never seen anyone besides Mary bring home light source, processor, scope, and cautery manuals to read and study them," Gwyn said. "Mary is the guru of endoscopy techs!"

According to Day, Davis has worked in the endo suite for 22 years and is known for her superior communication skills with patients and relationships with endo suite coworkers. Day also said that Davis has a special reputation within the medical center.

"Mary received the first-ever 'STAR award' presented at LRMC," Day said. "This award is presented to an employee who meets criteria based on performance, patient satisfaction, safety and improving processes within the facility to better patient outcomes."

Nancy Deboer

Wheat Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints hospital, of Racine, Wisc., has a clinical manager thinking about the cloning process. But since cloning a top-notch nurse is not an option, manger and nominator Cameron Skipper, RN, said she wishes she could at least give Nancy Deboer a higher ranking. According to Skipper, Deboer deserves the clinical ranking of 100 rather than her current "IV," the highest staff RN title available in the All Saints organization.

"That is how valuable she is and how much I respect her as an employee," Skipper said. "If physicians know they are going to have a complicated case, they always ask, 'Is Nancy here? Can she be in my room?' Her knowledge about procedures and equipment is limitless."

Deboer, a GI nurse for 35 years, writes policies and procedures, does the majority of department ordering, sets up company rep in-services and arranges physician discussions with companies when needed.

"She is always an RN that I go to when I have a question or concern about equipment or when I simply need another opinion," Skipper said. "Most of all, she is one of the most fiscally responsible stewards that I know."

Kimberly German

Holistic nursing skills combined with GI nursing competence are two special skills of staff nurse Kimberly German, BSN, RN-BC, HN-BC.

German's nominator, Barbara Zuccala, MSN, RN, CGRN, a GI clinical educator at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., said German is valued by many members of her organization.

"She is always gracious and stops whatever she is doing to provide her holistic skills and expertise to our patients," Zuccala said. "She is always positive about her work in the Endoscopy Unit, and at The Valley Hospital."

German has also served on numerous hospital and unit-based committees.

"Presently, Kimberly serves on the Outpatient Nurse Practice Council and the Holistic Council," Zuccala added. "Her knowledge and expertise is valued by the physicians, nurses and ancillary staff. She is an example of what every nurse should strive to be."

Susan Hager

Nominator Chelsey Stitt, an endoscopy technician at Adena Health System in Chillicothe, Ohio, said her unit has a special person who brings humor as well as a personal touch to the workplace―and that person is endoscopy nurse Susan Hager, RN.

"Susan is very smart and super funny," Stitt said. "She is a great cook and remembers the little things like bringing in treats for birthdays and holidays. She always puts someone or something before herself. That is what makes her a great person."

Hager, also known for her professional skills, effectively deals with the ups and downs of the endoscopy day, according to Stitt.

"Susan handles stressful situations very well and can make a day that was very busy go very smooth," Stitt said. "I have heard of people only wanting to deal with her because she knows what she is doing. She inspires all of us to be a better person. I hope to become a nurse just like her one day!"

Lilishor Hijaz

Hospitals in the Middle East and Africa are being touched by nurses who know their way around an endoscopy suite. Nominator Debbie den Boer, RN, BSN, CGRN, has seen such evidence in Lilishor Hijaz. Den Boer, from the University of California San Diego Medical Center's endoscopy unit, said that Hijaz does a great job leading presentations and group activities at international meetings.

Hijaz, an RN in Romania and Jordan, is the only motility nurse in Jordan. According to den Boer, Hijaz helps perform motility procedures in Amman Hospital, in Amman, Jordan, where she is the head nurse of the hospital's endoscopy unit.

"Lilishor formed a committee to research the cleaning and disinfection processes that were used in all the hospitals and endoscopy centers in Amman," den Boer said. "She visited all the hospitals and spoke to the nurses about the need for GI-specific education."

Hijaz is also an invaluable resource for physicians, according to den Boer.

At the UEGW Congress annual meetings, Hijaz helps with the practice workplace by assisting physicians with different GI equipment modalities. "Her role is very important because of her language skills. She can address physicians in Romanian, Arabic as well as English," DenBoer said.

Heidi Johnson

Angi Pirkle, RN, BSN, at Bradenton, Fla.'s Manatee Memorial Hospital, said she knows what the "perfect nurse" looks like because she happens to work with her. That would be the RN educator for Pirkle's endoscopy unit, Heidi Johnson, BSN.

"Heidi Johnson is very dedicated and a prime example of the perfect nurse," Pirkle said. "She has a wealth of knowledge, not only in endoscopy, but general nursing. She is the true definition of a Most Valuable Professional."

Johnson, who also has GI certification, knows her way around the endoscopy unit and is admired by her coworkers, according to Pirkle.

"She makes sure she is up to date on areas of endoscopy in an effort to provide education and information to her co-workers," Pirkle said. "Heidi is the first to jump in when anything needs to be done without ever a complaint. Heidi is definitely loved by all who know her and quickly loved by everyone she meets. Any place would be honored to have Heidi work for and with them; but we at Manatee Memorial Hospital Endoscopy Department have the true privilege and could not be happier of such."

Connie Klinkradt

"Attention to detail" is at the core of nursing. Karen Smith, RN, CGRN, MHA/ED, director of Central Illinois Endoscopy Center, in Peoria, Ill., feels the attention of her "pre-call nurse" makes a difference for patients and the center. That "pre-call nurse" is Connie Klinkradt, RN, BSN, CGRN, "I feel Connie is one of the major reasons for the success of our new endoscopy center," Smith said. "Her detailed instructions have helped reduce the number of no-shows and poor colonoscopy preparations. Connie is committed to making sure the needs of our patients are addressed and any special needs forwarded to team members."

Klinkradt's job starts 72 hours before a patient's procedure when she calls patients to answer questions about arrival time, procedure time, preparation instructions, and anything else the patient is unclear about, according to Smith.

"And Connie is on-call for phone calls for any needs of the patients as the time of procedure approaches," Smith said. "She is a reliable and dedicated employee."

Chantelle Lands

After working in another state and another hospital for 15 years, endoscopy staff RN and nominator Elizabeth Marlowe did not expect to find a second home when she started her employment at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond, Va. But then, she said she didn't realize she would ever have an endoscopy nurse manager like Chantelle Lands.

"Being over 50, it was very difficult for me to change states and the hospital I loved, and to leave all my friends," Marlowe said. "From the day Chantelle interviewed me, she made me feel like 'part of the family.' As a matter of fact, she sent me an email, and as she signed off she said 'welcome home'!"

Marlowe said her MVP candidate is also special to others.

"Chantelle is the most unique person; she not only truly cares for each and every one of the employees, but for each patient," Marlowe said. "She treats each person as an individual and not a number. She cares for each one of us at work and at home. If patients don't have a ride she gives them one, or finds them one. If they don't have food, she takes care of this too. There are no boundaries when it comes to the services she has to offer, and she never expects anything in return."

Kelly Minnerly

ERCP procedures in the endoscopy suite at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y., are efficient and cost effective due to the efforts of staff RN Kelly Minnerly, according to Loretta Grahn, RN, CGRN, Minnerly's coworker and nominator.

"Kelly is exceptional in the ERCP procedural skill area," Grahn said. "She is very diligent with organizing and storing of the ERCP supplies. She is also very meticulous in how the supplies are used and ordered to prevent waste."

Grahn said that Minnerly, who has a degree in psychology, brings a positive attitude to her unit. "When there is an issue or question, she will go out of her way to find the answer to the problem," Grahn said. "Kelly will work through the problem with a positive flow and professional attitude, and then relay the information to her peers with ease and grace."

When the schedule seems tight, Minnerly helps set the pace for the unit.

"She ensures a quick, but extremely thorough and safe process for the patient," Grahn said. "And it's a pleasure to work in an emergency with her."

Jasmine Moise

"Have scope, will travel."

That mantra speaks to the flexibility demonstrated by GI tech Jasmine Moise, who works at Atlanta's Veterans Adminstration Medical Center in Decatur, Ga.

Her nominator, GI lab nurse manager, Cynthia Rucker, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, said, "Jasmine assists our physicians with travel cases to the MICU/SICU and the operating room. The physicians have complemented her hard work and assistance. She is also known to go the extra the mile to assist her peers and the RN team in providing quality care to our Veterans."

In addition to technical competence, Rucker said that Moise meets the medical center and service line mission while treating patients, visitors, volunteers, and all medical center staff in a courteous, tactful, and respectful manner.

"She is pleasant and friendly, making each patient feel welcome," Rucker said. "She is an outstanding healthcare professional and her contributions to the GI lab are substantial."

Robin Myers

Endoscopy suites have key leaders with expertise in many areas. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences endo suite manager Monique van Dooren, MSN, said in her unit, one such leader is Robin Myers, RN employee educator.

"Robin is truly a motivator, a believer in a higher standard and pride in our profession," van Dooren said. "She is a resource to our physicians and our staff. She works very hard in order to do patient care in our busy teaching hospital, and to keep our staff educated on all the new technology that is up and coming."

According to van Dooren, Myers―also a SGNA board member―spearheaded a quality project that will save their endoscopy unit over a half-million dollars. "But the most important thing she has done for our institution is to ensure quality care of our patients and our scopes," van Dooren added.

Vicki Pollan

Endoscopy managers sometimes find job descriptions difficult to write and even more difficult to fill. Sherri Butler, RN, CGRN, center manager at Gastro One in Germantown, Tenn., said that is true of her organization as well. And it's also why she nominated Vicki Pollan for MVP; because Pollan wears many hats and wears them well. Pollan fills the dual role of infection preventionist/clinical supervisor.

"Vicki is involved in all aspects of our high-volume endoscopy center, from specialty needs in the role of infection preventionist, to troubleshooting equipment and computer programs in the procedure rooms," Butler said. "She is the glue that keeps our center flowing smoothly by jumping in where needed, multi-tasking, planning ahead and ensuring we follow the best practice guidelines for our patients."

Pollan, who has worked at Gastro One for 12 years, has a BSN and will be taking the CGRN exam in May.

"She is a master of all procedures and validates competencies annually for all staff," Butler said. "She has earned the respect of her co-workers, endoscopy technicians, the endoscopy center manager and the Gastro One group of 20 physicians."

Jody Scheresky

The opinion of nominator Shannon Moulton, RN, Marietta's clinical director for GI Specialists of Georgia, is that people will follow leaders who are sensible and right.

"Jody Scheresky is exactly that," Moulton said. "To the physicians, she is stability, sensibility and levity in all situations. For management, Jody offers experience, leadership and loyalty. For patients, she is an educator with a touch of mothering."

Moulton said that Scheresky, an RN and clinical coordinator for Lithia Springs' GI Specialists of Georgia, has leadership skills not limited to those groups.

"Jody is able to command a team which brings compassion to their patients, but also each other," Moulton said. "She is a mentor to the younger generation of nurses coming up through the ranks."

According to Moulton, Scheresky also possesses a sense of empathy and reality.

"She understands the business side and always helps to find balance within that structure for best practice and efficiency," Moulton said.

Barb Schwant

According to Terry Markiewicz, MSN, RN, CGRN, and staff RN at Ellis Medicine, in Schenectady, N.Y., her nominee, Barb Schwant, BS, RN, CGRN, works continuously to promote the GI specialty of endoscopy nursing.

During her career, Schwant, in the role of GI educator when she retired in late 2012, was instrumental in developing staff competencies and a structured orientation program. "Barb is a strong supporter of certification for gastroenterology nurses," Markiewicz said. "She always worked in a collegial manner with staff and physicians alike."

According to Markiewicz, Schwant's activities belie traditional retirement.

"Barb is still involved locally as well as nationally in GI nursing," Markiewicz said. "She is still the editor of Central New York's SGNA newsletter. She is an active member of the planning committee for our upcoming spring educational conference. She arranged to get a speaker that she heard at a national conference for this meeting, and designed the brochure for the event. For someone who is retired, you would never suspect it of her!"

Molly Snuffer

One door closed.
Another door opened.

Nominator Marsha Deem, RN, CPAN, nurse manager at the Greenbrier Clinic ASC in Sulfur Springs, W. Va., is happy that Molly Snuffer―when laid off from her job as a lab technician―walked into Deem's endoscopy unit for a training program.

"I couldn't ask for a more dedicated employee and I appreciate Molly more than words can say," Deem said. "She is very caring toward all the patients and has a knack for putting them at ease during the endoscopy experience. She has a way of encouraging her peers during busy days or stressful situations."

Snuffer, also a certified phlebotomist, takes the phrase "cross-training" seriously, according to Deem.

"She has cross-trained to the clinic laboratory to help out any time there are staffing shortages," Deem said. "And she took time out of her busy schedule to become a certified gastroenterology technical specialist through SGNA."

Patricia Southerland

Who fits the description of a GI tech with dedication and an exceptional work ethic? At Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, in Philadelphia, that would be GI tech/ORT, Patricia Southerland, according to nominator and fellow GI tech/ORT, Angie Lovitt.

"The passion she has for her patients in unbelievable! She loves GI and wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Lovitt said.

Southerland has worked in her unit for 10 years. "Patricia is the extra pair of hands," Lovitt said, "and she is knowledgeable of different therapeutic procedures. She is willing to help out her coworkers with anything that is needed. She even attends meetings outside of work pertaining to GI procedures. You can tell when a person is truly proud of what they do every day, and that is Patricia all the way."

Dainelle "Renee" Story

Some people see something that could be improved. Others not only see it, but do something about it.

According to Courtney Day, LPN, a nurse educator at Lane Regional Medical Center, in Zachary, La., Dainelle "Renee" Story, RN, is an endo nurse who sees and does.

Nominator Day said that Story's clinical observations and evaluations made Story realize a need for better patient education concerning pre-procedure NPO status.

"She designed a pamphlet that is provided to patients at their physician's office educating them on NPO status and its importance," Day said. "This has improved patient compliance with instructions and decreased the number of cancelled procedures."

Day said that Story also has an interest in conducting evidence-based research.

"Her most recent topic focuses on the use of CO2 versus room air to decrease cramping and abdominal distention," Day said.

Story has a love of endoscopy nursing and for patient education, according to Day. "This is evident in the bedside instruction she gives to each patient every day," Day said. "Renee is very sincere, knowledgeable, dependable and passionate. For her, caring for patients is not just a job, it is a calling."

Gregory Sutton

Gregory Sutton, an endoscopy technician at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, in Virginia, and has 24 years experience as a technician. Sutton's colleague of more than two years, Sonja Hopper, RN, is very impressed with Sutton and that's why she nominated him for MVP.

"He not only is very compassionate in his work ethics for each individual patient but he has helped myself and all of our team become more acutely aware of our positions in providing the utmost skilled patient care to all," Hopper said.

"Gregory always presents himself to each patient we encounter in a professional manner extending himself to any patient needs," she added. "As a technician, he provides new employees and physicians alike, with the education and instructions needed to perform each procedure with individuality concerns, explaining to nurses and technicians, the probability of reasoning behind the procedure and the probable outcome."

Physicians regard Sutton as a "second set of eyes" on the screen and take his recommendations on specific scope use or maneuvering techniques. Sutton is often requested by individual physicians for their patient case-load, Hopper said.

"Gregory never speaks a negative word of anyone and always greets colleagues and patients with a lifted spirit and smile," she added.

"During preceptoring, Gregory uses a soft gentle voice, never raising his tone. ... Gregory continues to maintain professional certification without regard to compensation for such. He is the exemplary colleague of any endo technician I have ever encountered and hands down, the person I would want as my technician during a procedure. That is why I am very proud to nominate him for the MVP award!"

Rebecca Siirola

Medicine is loud. It takes monitors, alarms, multiple and simultaneous conversations―even chaotic multi-tasking during those conversations―to deliver patient care. But in the cacophony can sometimes be found a source of quiet, unassuming influence.

Nominator Jan Petty, BSRN, a clinical nurse in the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics, Salt Lake City, sees that influence in Rebecca Siirola, RN, CNC.

"Whenever Rebecca is recognized, she immediately diverts praise to include others," Petty said. "I have witnessed several occasions where Rebecca has secretly fought and helped others to believe in themselves and to help others. I watched her work with an individual night after night to produce a stellar presentation. She didn't take the easy road to present, but chose to lift co-workers above what they would do on their own."

Another example of Siirola's quiet assistance, according to Petty, was one very late night when Siirola guided elderly, stranded patients to a hotel because they were afraid to drive in the dark.

Siirola, president of the local MWSGNA chapter, holds another unique position at her institution: she has worked every Christmas day for many years so that her colleagues can spend the holiday with loved ones.

Lisa Westin

When it comes to sharing GI information, Lisa Westin, RN, MN, CGN(C), the gastroenterology case manager for Red Deer Hospital Centre, Red Deer, Alberta, has created educational items that have traveled across provincial borders.

"Lisa has had a significant and positive impact on the nursing professional practice in Canada," said nominator Mabel Chaytor, patient care coordinator at Eastern Health in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. "Lisa represents CSGNA for the Canadian Nurses Association as one of 43 national associations in a specialty area of nursing. The Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties strengthens the links between nurses and the health care community."

Westin, CSGNA president-elect, also works in a nurse-physician partnership providing comprehensive care to gastroenterology inpatient and outpatient clients. Yet she works unceasingly for CSGNA, according to Chaytor. "Lisa's leadership in strategy and operational planning for the future of our CSGNA organization is amazing," Chaytor said. "One of CSGNA's board strategies is document translation to French. Lisa's application for The Heritage Canada translation grant for 2013 was successfully approved."

Jane Wright

Accreditation surveys are "special" events for healthcare organizations. During those visits, an organization's employees can be selected to answer a surveyor's questions or be observed performing their work. It can be a high-stress time, but also a time for outstanding employees to shine.

Cynthia Rucker, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, nurse manager at Atlanta's Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Decatur, Ga., said her nominee, Jane Wright, BSN, is one of those outstanding employees.

"Jane utilized a recognized body of evidence to help evaluate self and others in preparation for the 2013 Joint Commission hospital-wide survey," Rucker said.

"As a result, she was the key RN the Joint Commission surveyor observed providing nursing care (administration of moderate sedation) during the survey," she added. "The surveyor spoke favorably about her competency, and the general care our veterans receive in the GI lab."

Wright's skills don't stop with expertise related to surveys, Rucker said. With a nursing career spanning 40 years, Wright also coaches her colleagues in team building and makes sustained contributions to healthcare through expertise and mentoring.

"As a result, we have seen improvement in job satisfaction and zero turnovers related to poor nursing relations within the GI team," Rucker said.

Barbara Zuccala

Barbara Zuccala, MSN, RN, CGRN, is a GI educator at the Valley Hospital, in Ridgewood, N.J., where she's worked with her nominator, Doreen Cokeley, RN, for 20 years. Zuccala has earned a BSN, MSN, holds a certification in gastroenterology and is an active member of the SGNA.

Zuccola was honored with the Gabrielle Schindler award in 2012 and was the Valley Hospital's nurse of the year in 2009.

She is the course director of the GI nurses and associates course given during the NYSGE annual course held annually in Manhattan and also lectures locally, regionally and nationally. Barbara is involved in several hospital-based committees and councils.

"She organizes and develops numerous educational programs for the staff throughout the year and develops our endoscopy unit's nursing competencies and maintains our competency compliance records," Cokely said.

"She oversees infection control in our unit as well as authors the units policies and procedures for new equipment and procedures. Barbara is approachable, professional, knowledgeable, friendly and funny," Cokely added.

"She is generous with her time and provides high-quality care and compassion to her patients. Barbara has the respect of the nurses and physicians she works with and is a true friend to all. In my opinion my friend and colleague Barbara Zuccala is the definition of most valuable professional."