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UHP Sweeps Nightingales Again

(From UConn Today; videos produced by UHP members Carolyn Pennington, Frank Barton, and Ethan Giorgetti; photos by UHP member Tina Encarnacion)

As UConn Health celebrates its nurses, six have the distinction of being chosen for the 2023 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing. Peers nominated 35 UConn Health nurses this year, shattering the previous record of 25 nominations in 2022.

“Selecting our Nightingale nurses is one of the most rewarding yet challenging responsibilities, due to the fact that we have so many extraordinary and compassionate nurses working at UConn Health that are worthy of this honor,” says Caryl Ryan, UConn Health's chief nursing officer and chief operating officer of the UConn John Dempsey Hospital. “I continue to be inspired by each and every one of the nurses nominated. Our Nightingale recipients this year are outstanding nurses who represent clinical excellence in the care they deliver every day while continuing to serve their patients and community with tremendous caring and compassion. I am truly proud of each recipient and their valuable commitment to the nursing profession.”

National Nurses Week is observed May 6-12, timed to end on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the British nurse largely credited as the founder of modern nursing, May 12, 1820. UConn Health is celebrating with a series of events and acknowledgements throughout the week of May 8.

UConn Health’s 2023 Nightingale Nurses

Tammy Davino, DNP, APRN, Intensive Care Unit

From her nomination: "Tammy regularly precepts Advanced Practice Providers, APRN students, nursing students and new staff within the ICU, sharing her knowledge of critical care.... Tammy continues to provide caring, compassionate support to staff throughout the health center — she is astutely aware of the emotional stress staff endure especially in the ICU. During the COVID pandemic being aware of the stress essential workers were under was an exceptional and very necessary attribute for staff to demonstrate, which Tammy does every day — it is just part of her being.... Tammy has committed 30 years, caring for critically ill patients and to making the ICU a better place to work and receive care!"

Lorraine Hu, DNP, APRN, CRNA, nurse anesthetist, Operating Room

From her nomination: "While the surgeon and the perioperative team perform surgical procedures, Lorraine coordinates care and advocates patient safety while the patient is under anesthesia... She incorporates mindfulness practice into her patient's perioperative care. She guides every patient who comes across her from the moment they meet until they fall asleep with positive thoughts and ideas to promote healing and recovery. This is why Lorraine is so unique and should be recognized for her contribution to patient excellence."

Patricia Pavelchak, RN, WCC, staff nurse CN2, Surgery

From her nomination: "We work in a broken medical system and Patti is like an engineer looking for a solution to a problem with many moving parts. She is not happy until every stone has been overturned and every avenue investigated. Our patients are lucky to have her. I hope they know how hard she works to ensure only the best health outcome possible... She gets our patients through their darkest times. This is a gift. It is one thing to attain skills and basic knowledge of the nursing profession, but gaining a patient’s trust is another skill altogether. Patti has the extra capacity to meet patients where they are at. I do not know what we would do without her."

Wendy Thibodeau, RN, MSN, OCN, clinical case manager, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center

From her nomination: "She has pioneered the nurse navigation program in the Cancer Center and is the reason for its success and continued growth. Wendy’s work and dedication has demonstrated benefits for people at risk or diagnosed with cancer. This includes a shorter time to diagnosis and start of treatment, increased patient and caregiver knowledge, better adherence to recommended care, and improved quality of life... Wendy’s work helps reduce cancer morbidity and mortality by eliminating barriers to timely access to cancer care (financial, social, psychological, logistical, communication barriers, language, literacy and equity of healthcare delivery). Wendy has made a significant impact on the field of oncology nurse navigator and her tireless efforts will continue to impact this specialty and the Cancer Center for years to come."

Kevin Thompson, RN, CN3, assistant nurse manager, Surgery/Orthopedics

From his nomination: "Kevin Thompson makes everyone around him better at their job. Kevin gives nothing but his best and expects the same in return... He is an advocate, a preceptor, a coach, a haver of courageous conversations and a mentor. He seeks to learn and grow even when its uncomfortable. Kevin never says 'No,' he steps up and into any situation... Kevin is intrinsically wired to help, to care and to contribute... Being a nurse isn’t a job for Kevin, it is who he is."

Robin Zingales-Browne, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, Psychiatry

From her nomination: "Her knowledge of our families distinguishes her as a provider who cares not only about the individual patient but about the impact the disease has on the entire family... She understands the importance of human touch. She is not afraid to hold the hand of the dying patient, hug the caregiver, or shed a tear with a grieving family... To watch her with our patients is a joy... Her gift of compassion can not be taught, it is intrinsic... As best said by one of her newer patients who came from out of state when Robin asked how she found her way to UConn, 'I went to a CT Huntington's disease chatroom. Everybody said go see Robin. She knows her stuff. She's great.' There is no higher compliment."

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