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February 16, 2011

Medical Center presents annual awards to top staff

Medical Center’s Board recognizes individuals, teams who exemplify excellence

recipients of awards
The winners of the Medical Center’s 2010 Excellence Awards were honored during the Medical Center Board’s annual meeting in January. The awards are among the highest honors given to employees. Pictured: Back row, from left—Jean Gumina, Gordon Phillips, and Paul Graman; middle, from left—James Woods, Christopher Evans, Elizabeth Dodds-Ashley, Kelly Canizzaro, Maureen Kiernan, Nancy Metzler, and Jane Liesveld; front row standing, from left—Jenny Speranza, Cynthia Thieleman, Tammy Burke, Deborah Phillips, Diane Chiesa, and Aldwin Perez; front row, seated—Bob Latella, Bradford Berk, Ron Zarrella.


Medical Center Board Chair Ron Zarrella presented the 2010 Excellence Awards to six individuals and four teams who consistently demonstrate an unwavering personal and professional dedication to integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence.

The awards are among the highest honors given to Strong Memorial Hospital employees.

Individual Awards

Diane Chiesa, an analyst/programmer at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, was honored for improving operations and efficiency by leading the implementation of a new electronic patient medical information system. Leaders say her extraordinary energy, dedication and skill made the effort go smoothly. Chiesa was praised for her leadership, integrity, and commitment to advancing care.

Surgeon Jenny Speranza received the Excellence Award in the physician category for providing compassionate care to patients and demonstrating a commitment to quality amongst her colleagues. She joined the Medical Center four years ago as an assistant professor of Surgery and is director of the Colorectal Physiology Center at Highland Hospital. A colleague pointed out that one day, after more than 15 hours of surgeries, Speranza visited an anxious patient and took a great deal of time to calm her worries, demonstrating that the human touch is key to recovery.
Transplant administrator Nancy Metzler received the Excellence Award in the business/administrative category.

Metzler is part of a complex multidisciplinary team working in one of the most challenging areas of medicine today—solid organ transplant. She is praised for her tireless pursuit of patient relations and her ability to communicate with patients and families make her stand out. She serves in a leadership capacity for several transplant-related organizations. She was recently appointed vice-chair of the United Network for Organ Sharing, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Aldwin Perez received this year’s Excellence Award in the administrative support category. As Strong Hospital’s main loop ambassador, Perez is the person who greets hundreds of people daily. Perez treats each with the highest level of respect and consideration. Known for his problem-solving skills, Perez also assumes responsibility readily and will follow through on a task to completion, regardless of the time required.  Perez’s compassionate personality has made him well known at the hospital, but occasionally he is even stopped on the street when he is out in public with his daughters.

The Excellence Award in the clinical staff category went to senior rehabilitation therapist Cynthia Thieleman, who sees some of the most gravely injured patients in the hospital—those who have often had lengthy recoveries and are now attempting to re-enter daily life and regain the use of their bodies. Challenged by new physical limitations, patients find themselves dealing with powerful emotions which can complicate rehabilitation and physical therapy. Thieleman masterfully combines the qualities of psychologist, motivational counselor, and caring partner to encourage her patients to forge ahead.

The Medical Center honored Maureen Kiernan with its Excellence Award in nursing.  She is known for managing a busy urology clinic and creating a warm, compassionate environment for patients.  Colleagues call her a “one-of-a-kind practitioner” who is able to balance the many responsibilities with grace each day. A 32-year veteran in urology nursing, she’s a strong advocate for educating and supporting people through their experiences.

Team awards

The overuse of antibiotics has caused superbugs like MRSA and C. Diff to build up resistance, wreaking havoc in health care settings. Since 2002, the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team has worked steadily to change the culture of antibiotic use at Strong. The team oversees the use of antibiotics through education, evaluation and optimization, to choose the right medication, select how it’s administered and how long therapy should last. The team, led by Paul Graman and Elizabeth Dodds Ashley, has not only improved patient care, but, as an added plus, has reduced overall costs of treatment by 49 percent. Other team members include Elizabeth Rightmier, Dwight Hardy, and Ghinwa Dumyati.

The Sawgrass Surgery Center Perianesthesia Team was honored for demonstrating that quality patient care extends to families as well. The group works closely with patients and families before, during, and after outpatient surgery. Based upon the outstanding feedback the group receives from patients, it is clear that their attention to detail—from the warm hugs they offer parents as their child is taken into the operating room, to the gentle, squeeze of the hand they give a nervous patient—means the world to them. This group is led by Stefan Lucas, Michael Maloney, and Janet Remizowski.

The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit received a Team Excellence Award for its ability to provide life-saving care and a welcoming environment to patients who are often hospitalized for several weeks. Program leaders Gordon Phillips, Jane Liesveld, and interim nurse manager Tammy Clarke, praise the team of clinicians for its commitment to making the process of undergoing a transplant as positive as possible for each patient, as well as their families. In addition, the group, which is part of the Wilmot Cancer Center, hosts an annual picnic to bring patients together with survivors and provide inspiration and hope that patients will move past their cancers.

In 2002, new safety initiatives instituted by the Obstetrics Leadership Team resulted in dramatic improvements within the department. Under the leadership of chair James Woods and associate director of nursing Deborah Phillips, team education, orientation, and debriefings are now the norm, as is developing a common language competency for electronic fetal monitoring. The creation of a Simulation Lab has not only benefited hospital staff, but provides community emergency medical workers with much-needed hands-on training. Another added benefit from the department’s transformation: insurance claims have dropped by 26 percent.

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