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The 2021 Dallas-Fort Worth Excellence in Nursing Awards

What a time to be a nurse. The pandemic upended all of our lives, but nurses especially have had a harrowing year and a half. For them, there is no WFH. Whatever the field, their jobs have taken them out of safety bubbles and into harm’s way. The stories we’ve heard really drove that point home.

Every year for this feature, we contact North Texas hospitals, doctors, nursing organizations, and patients and ask them to nominate outstanding nurses. Nominators answer three questions about how the nurses affected their lives, community, and profession. D Magazine editors select the most outstanding nominations and send them to a panel of esteemed registered nurses in various fields. The panel can’t judge nurses they’ve worked with directly. We compile the judges’ scores, which this year brought us the winners you see on the following pages. Along with the names, we’ve published a few of the stories that nominators sent us.

Congratulations to the winners. And to every nurse, whether named on these pages or not: thank you.

Alexa Coldewey

Nurse Navigator, Children’s Health

Alexa was the nurse navigator for an infant who was discharged from the hospital with congenital heart disease and other medical complexities. The child takes a medication that, if stopped or not administered appropriately, could result in harm or even death.

The patient’s family did not speak English and could not read or write. Early on, Alexa recognized that this would be the No. 1 problem for which she would need to find a creative solution to help the family. She created a communication method that used simple images instead of words so that the family would know who to call if their child needed medical help.

Soon after the child was discharged, the family moved out of state to be closer to family support. Due to the child’s fragile medical condition, Alexa knew that this was going to be a challenge, especially during a pandemic. The child was too fragile to fly, and the drive would take two days. Alexa took immediate action and coordinated the transfer with the patient’s cardiologist and pediatrician here in Dallas, working tirelessly to find new doctors and specialists who could provide the appropriate level of care to this child.

Alexa Coldewey nurse navigator

Bag of Tricks: When nurse navigator Alexa Coldewey encountered a critically ill child with parents who couldn’t read, write, or speak English, she created picture cards so they could get the help they needed anywhere they went.

Jonathan Zizzo

Once the family reached their new state, the child had to be seen in the emergency room. The family had the communication plan that Alexa created for them with the simple images and phone numbers. The new medical team was able to reach out to Alexa and receive a thorough medical history and plan for the child’s transition.

If  you talk to Alexa, she would say, “Oh, I was just doing my job.” But I would say this was going above and beyond. She provides this level of care every day for all of her patients. Christa Combs, Nurse Manager, Children’s Health

Paul Mayombola

Nurse Practitioner, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center

Paul’s story is compelling. He came to the United States from Kenya and worked as a dishwasher at Baylor Scott & White Medical CenterIrving Hospital. Even in that role, his supervisor noted his diligence, integrity, and compassion and recommended him for promotion. He progressed in his career to patient aide, monitor tech, medical/surgical nurse, ICU nurse, and nurse practitioner, and now he is a Doctor of Nursing Practice at the Center for Advanced Heart & Lung Disease at Baylor University Medical Center. He worked full-time while attaining these degrees and being a husband and father.

All of his patients and physicians have the utmost confidence in him. Additionally, he is beloved by his colleagues. He recognizes that on many occasions what patients may hear is not what has been said, and he will circle back on rounds to make sure there is no misunderstanding. Whenever there is a need to cover someone’s workload for whatever reason, he always volunteers. The best description of him is that of being a mensch: a trustworthy, intelligent, humble, dedicated, compassionate, and concerned individual.

Our mission is to be the leader in delivering excellent, value-based care where patients can feel safe, comfortable, and confident that their best interests are foremost in our minds. Paul truly allows that to happen. Randall Rosenblatt, Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center

DaiWai Olson

Director of the Neuroscience Nursing Research Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center

As a nursing advocate, Dr. DaiWai Olson wanted to explore the innovative ideas nurses had developed in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) while caring for COVID-19 patients and swiftly publish them so they could be utilized by others. His idea had two missions: to provide insight into nurse-driven strategies aimed at both reducing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and promoting staff safety and readiness to provide better patient outcomes. DaiWai collaborated with the nurse manager, educator, and bedside staff to discover the best techniques, and he received training on proper donning and doffing of PPE, optimal patient room setup, and ideas for improved staffing ratios. By the end of March of last year, at the very start of the pandemic, DaiWai and the MICU nursing team published an article titled “Reflections on Nursing Ingenuity During the COVID-19 Pandemic” in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing for the world to benefit. This was the first COVID-19 article published about nursing care and innovation.

While mentoring the nurse manager of the Neuroscience ICU (NSICU), DaiWai asked how he could help the manager. The manager knew in order to achieve continuity of care, NSICU would need to retain its top talent. At the time, NSICU’s average turnover rate was 20 percent. DaiWai collaborated with the nurse manager to promote professional development through nursing research. Over the next three years, utilizing UT Southwestern’s Neuroscience Nursing Research Center and the mentorship of DaiWai, NSICU published 18 articles and conducted 23 poster and five podium presentations at national conferences. Over that period, the average turnover rate dropped from 20 percent to 7.1 percent. At the same time, in 2020, NSICU did not have a catheter-associated urinary tract infection, central line-associated bloodstream infection, or ventilator-associated pneumonia. Byron Carlisle, Nurse Manager, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dolores Diaz

Nurse Manager, Parkland Health & Hospital System

During one of Dolores’ geriatric visits, she noticed that the patient was losing weight and had abdominal pain and poor appetite. The patient did not listen to his family; however, this did not deter Dolores. She shared her own deeply personal story of losing her beloved husband of 12 yearsin the midst of leading the COVID-19 testing centers operationsdue to his excessive weight, and how his death could have been preventable. The next day, the patient went to his primary care physician and had an X-ray and CT scan that found stage 4 intestinal cancer. The patient is now in treatment. When his daughter spoke to Dolores to inquire how she had persuaded her father to receive treatment, Dolores said, “I just spoke to him like anybody wants to be spoken to, with truth and compassion.”

This nurse is the heartbeat of the Homeless Outreach Medical Services (HOMES) program. When one of her patients at one of the homeless shelters used to ask her about becoming a nurse, she kept encouraging the patient and shared her own personal struggles and victories. Dolores was recently notified that the former patient was in the new nurses orientation at our hospital because Dolores encouraged her to pursue her dreams. This former patient is now out of the shelter and can provide for her family. What a testament to Dolores’ empathy and concern for others. Juanita Chism, Director of Nursing, Parkland Health & Hospital System

Rhonda McGuire

Registered Nurse and Facility Administrator, Trusted ER Hillcrest

A prime example of Rhonda going above and beyond is the time when she provided a safe intervention for a woman who was identified by healthcare staff as a victim of human trafficking. She immediately responded, took action, and became a support system for the victim’s needs. Rhonda made sure the woman had all of the necessary resources and information to help the patient escape her captors.

The woman did not have the ability to pay for treatment, but Rhonda made sure she received first-class healthcare. Rhonda and her facility are now actively working with Restored Hope Ministries, a nonprofit that assists women and their children whose lives have been affected by sexual exploitation and trafficking. Her facility raised over $2,500 this holiday season to provide Christmas presents to those receiving assistance from this organization.

Rhonda McGuire accepted the role of facility administrator at Trusted ER Hillcrest in June 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 surge, when emergency rooms began to experience an unprecedented spike in patient volume. It was during her first week of orientation and onboarding that daily patient volumes drastically increased. Though it was only her first week, Rhonda demonstrated exemplary leadership as she immediately jumped right in and began to care for patients as she learned her new administrative role. She led the efforts to develop new patient flow processes through the ER to handle the sudden increase in volume. As a result, patient care did not suffer.

Her leadership has had an enormous impact at this facility, as she reinvigorated her team and boosted morale. Joe Alvarado, Chief Nursing Officer, Trusted ER Hillcrest

Kevin Schroeder

Clinical Team Lead, Emergency Department, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Kevin’s diverse background has given him a unique level of empathy and compassion. He has seen people during their hardest times, whether as a police officer, volunteer firefighter, or as an oncology and emergency department nurse. He works daily to calm the fears of younger patients and the anxieties of the elderly.

One man was terrified to seek healthcare out of fear of COVID, and Kevin talked him off the cliff and alleviated his anxiety by reassuring him of all the safety measures in place to protect him and the caregivers. He is terrific with families of patients at the end of life, and he works with them to coordinate pastoral care, clinical care, and, if necessary, the medical examiner. He puts his heart and soul into his work and guides patients to the resources they need.

Kevin improved COVID patient flow in the emergency department, which resulted in safer treatment and faster placement when needed in the inpatient setting. He also volunteered to help nurses and principals at the local school district with N95 mask fittings and safety tips to protect them from COVID prior to the start of school.

He is always calm under great pressure when difficult decisions have to be made, and he is never intimidated by anyone or anything. Staff go to him for complex cases, difficult patients and family members, and sensitive issues. He has a gift for deescalating emotions and anxieties, and he utilizes his law enforcement skills in dealing with mentally unstable and violent patients. During the COVID pandemic, he has helped instill a department culture of “We got this! We can do this together!” Angel Biasatti, Director of Public Relations, Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

The Excellence in Nursing Awards 2021

How We Did It: We contacted local hospitals, doctors, nursing organizations, and patients and asked them to visit our website to nominate outstanding nurses. We asked nominators to answer three questions regarding how the nurses affected their lives, community, and profession. The editors selected the best nominations and sent them to a panel of esteemed registered nurses in various fields. The panel could not judge those they worked with directly. We compiled judges’ scores to select the 115 winners. We also vetted the registered nursing licenses and reviewed any disciplinary actions of each winner.

Direct Care

Rachel Akins
Adolescent & Young Adult Women’s Health Nurse
Children’s Health

Angela Allain
Registered Nurse Care Coordinator
Children’s Health

Maria Alvarez
Registered Nurse
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Tiffany Au
Certified Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Lylia Baca
Registered Nurse
Medical City Dallas

Noel Beboso
Staff Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Lauren Bereuter
Critical Care Nurse Practitioner
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Felicia Berno
Ambulatory Triage Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

April Berry
Transplant Coordinator
Children’s Health

Nicole Bessinger
Registered Nurse Care Coordinator
Children’s Health

Rhyan Brown
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Michael Busch
Critical Care and Trauma Registered Nurse
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Kaelea Butterfield
Nurse Supervisor
Medical City Dallas

Linda Bynum
Registered Nurse
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Kimberly Cline-Walker
ICU Clinical Team Lead and ICU Nurse
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Alexa Coldewey
Nurse Navigator
Children’s Health

Chacey Cunningham
Registered Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Heather Degraffenreid
Registered Nurse, Float Pool
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Elia Esquivel
RN Care Coordinator
Children’s Health

Sara Gray
Registered Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Jesse Harper-Tarantolo
Registered Nurse
Children’s Health

Akhere Isenalumhe
Registered Nurse
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Tairat Jaji
Registered Nurse
Medical City Dallas

Jennifer Kaplan
Neurosciences Nurse Practitioner
Texas Health Plano

Kirandeep Kaur
Registered Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Lauren Kennedy
Perinatal Program Manager
Medical City Dallas

Joshua Lamb
Staff Nurse
Methodist Richardson Medical Center

Patricia Lee
Staff Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Madison Lowrance
Registered Nurse
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Elena Lucas
Ambulatory Registered Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Alexandra Luttrell
Staff Nurse
Methodist Richardson Medical Center

Daizy Mathai
Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Paul Mayombola
Nurse Practitioner
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center

Rhonda McGuire
Registered Nurse and Facility Administrator
Trusted ER Hillcrest

Sarah Wilson McNeil
Registered Nurse
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Aubrey Merrill
Oncology Coordinator
Medical City Plano

Trenton Mobley
Registered Nurse
Baylor University Medical Center

Jowanna Moffitt
Registered Nurse
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Mary Moore
Registered Nurse
Dallas Independent School District

Edith Muñoz
Registered Nurse Care Manager and Health Coach
Baylor Scott & White Health

Teresa Ortiz
Resource Team Staff Nurse
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Cecily Pareja
Registered Nurse, 7S Medical Surgical COVID Team
Medical City Dallas

Sabitha Purayil
Assistant Nurse Manager
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Marilen Ramos
Hemodialysis Nurse Supervisor
Medical City Dallas

Laura Restall
Lead Kidney Transplant Coordinator
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Shirley Roberts
Clinic Nurse Manager
GRACE Community Clinic

Corey Robnett
Registered Nurse Pediatrics
Medical City Dallas

Linda Saklevedis
Registered Nurse
Texas Health Dallas

Thu Nguyet Sanadi
Critical Care Registered Nurse, Intensive Care Unit
VA Dallas Medical Center

Kevin Schroeder
Clinical Team Lead, Emergency Department
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Lindsey Segura
Renal Transplant Unit Supervisor
Medical City Dallas

Josette Stegmair
Registered Nurse
Children’s Health

Lanie Sutton
Registered Nurse
Dr. John L. Burns Jr., M.D., P.A.

Debbie Thompson
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Kelly Ann Williams
Senior Director of Pediatrics
Trusted Medical

Autumn Wood
Clinical Nurse Supervisor, Emergency Department
Medical City McKinney

Mackenzie Wood
Registered Nurse
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Elena Wurtz
Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Nurse Practitioner
Medical City Dallas

Shona Zachariah
Registered Nurse
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Education/Research

Maxine Adegbola
NPD Specialist
Methodist Richardson Medical Center

Sharon Blackerby
Director of Magnet, Nursing Education, and Professional Development
Methodist Richardson Medical Center

Katherine Bloodgood
Associate Manager of Nurse Residency: Neonatal ICU
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Kirbie Laken Haynie
Nephrology Staff Development and Patient Educator
Children’s Health

Julia Hesler
Clinical Educator
Children’s Health

Iris Hobson
Educator, Family Nurse Practitioner
Chicago School of Professional Psychology College of Nursing and Advanced Health Professions

Rebecca Keele
Professor
Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing

Karrie Lawson
Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator
Medical City Dallas

Mikyoung A. Lee
Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Ph.D. Program
Texas Woman’s University College of Nursing

DaiWai Olson
Director of the Neuroscience Nursing Research Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Martha Shaw
Clinical Educator
Children’s Health

Emily Snyder
Burn Educator
Medical City Plano

Krisana Tipton
Nurse Educator
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Beena Varghese
Senior Nurse Educator
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Kimm Wright
Nursing Program Coordinator
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Leadership

Brianna Abramson
Nurse Manager
Medical City Dallas

Charity Ballmann
Nurse Manager
Medical City Plano

Brittni Barnhardt
Director of Surgical Services and Operating Room
Medical City Frisco

Elsia Basadre Tio
Nursing Administrative Supervisor
Baylor University Medical Center

Angela Bazzell
Assistant Director, Advanced Practice Providers
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Joyce Bernardo-Uhlmer
Director of Acute Care Services
Medical City Dallas

Joshua Bourgeois
Vice President and Associate Chief Nursing Officer
Children’s Health

Jennifer Campbell
Nurse Manager
Texas Health Dallas

Diana Cardwell
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Children’s Health

Molly Case
Director of Virtual Care
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Juanita Chism
Director of Nursing
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Tamika Christman
Nurse Manager
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Kimberly Collier
Director of Surgical Services, Outpatient Surgery Center, and Endoscopy Services
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Joyce T. Davis
Nurse Consultant
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Natalie Denson
Senior Director, Acute Care Services
Children’s Health

Dolores Diaz
Nurse Manager
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Amanda Faggart
Director of Women’s and Children’s Services
Medical City McKinney

Nora Frasier
Vice President of Nursing/CNO
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Laura Garner
Burn Quality Coordinator
Medical City Plano

Judy Herrington
Senior Vice President of Nursing Services, Medicine & Neuroscience Division
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Jodi Lipps
Operating Room Assistant Nurse Manager
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Donna Morehead
Nurse Manager
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Irving

Julie Norris
Nursing Manager
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Stephanie Novak
Nurse Manager
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Charles Okpara
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Interim Manager Oncology/Infusion Clinic
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Sandra O’Rear
Acute Dialysis Unit Manager
Parkland Health & Hospital System

McKenzie Pedigo
Registered Nurse Administrative Supervisor
Children’s Health

Amanda Pitt
Magnet Program Manager
Parkland Health & Hospital System

Russell Reed
Chief Nursing Officer
Medical City Green Oaks

Chelsea Reynolds
Clinical Manager
Children’s Health

Sherry Reynolds
Director of Surgical Services
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Plano

Priyadarsini Somanchi
Orthopedics and Joint Restoration Unit Manager
Medical City Dallas

Joyce Soule
Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive
Medical City Dallas

Suzanne Stone
Stroke Program Manager
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Kristen Sumrall
Burn Trauma ICU Manager
Medical City Plano

Laura Sweatt
Director of Magnet
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Jessica Tramp
Manager of Medical-Surgical and Telemetry
Medical City McKinney

Rebecca Tutt
Director, Ambulatory Nursing
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Kathryn Ufolla
Director of Nursing Critical Care Services
Methodist Charlton Medical Center

Brooks Williams
Director of Nursing
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Debbie Wilson-Lewis
Nurse Manager
Parkland Health & Hospital System

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