EVS Colleagues Teresa Hayes and Susan Romaya Recognized in Dual BeRemarkable Award Ceremony

OAKLAND – In a fitting kickoff to Environmental Services Week, two EVS colleagues were recognized on Monday in a dual BeRemarkable Award ceremony. Teresa Hayes was selected for March’s BeRemarkable Award, while Susan Romaya was chosen for July’s award. Both colleagues were honored for their kindness and compassion toward patients, and for serving as part of the larger care team.

Teresa was nominated after leaders at St. Joe’s Oakland received a letter from a patient family. In the letter, a patient’s sibling wrote to share how Teresa’s kind words inspired her: “Throughout her stay, [my sister] often communicated what a great job all your staff were doing during these extremely difficult times. However, there was one person whom she has mentioned multiple times over the last few months since she left the hospital. She told me that on the day before she was to be released, she mentioned to Teresa Hayes, the housekeeper, that she would be leaving. Teresa said, ‘I’ve been watching you and I just know you’re going to do great.’ Those kind words meant the world to [my sister]. She hadn’t realized that not only your medical staff, but all of your staff, including the housekeepers, had been watching over her, protecting her… being her advocate.” The letter also shared that Teresa’s words had become her sister’s mantra as she continued her recovery.

Susan was nominated by a fellow colleague, who shared how she goes above and beyond to make patients feel cared for and special. The colleague wrote, “Susan Romaya takes excellent care of her work areas, yet also of the people who work in those areas. She has filled a void for the residents who are here away from home with her motherly persona. The residents really appreciate her. She brightens up the residents’ lounge with excellent cleaning, decorating for them and encouraging them on their path.

In addition, Susan’s nominator discussed the parties she holds for residents, stating, “Susan also holds special events for the residents which she ‘caters’ for them food she prepares herself and pays for out of pocket. She sets up the tables with her own lace cloths, fancy serving trays, etc.” The colleague added that Susan makes work more enjoyable for the entire team, and is appreciated by the team’s leaders.

Congratulations to both Teresa and Susan, and thank you for demonstrating how all colleagues can be a vital part of the care team. The empathy and engagement you show with patients and residents makes a real difference in their experience, and we are grateful for you.

Laura Kobylas’s Exceptional Efforts to Support Residents Earn Her the BeRemarkable Award

OAKLAND – Residency programs can be difficult and intensive, as new physicians undertake the necessary post-graduate education to transition into their careers. Fortunately for residents at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, they have Laura Kobylas in their corner. Laura, a GME Specialist, listened to resident concerns during a challenging time and worked with leaders to develop innovative solutions. Her extraordinary efforts to support resident physicians earned her the latest BeRemarkable Award.

Laura was nominated by a colleague, who shared how she has gone above and beyond to help residents succeed. Earlier this year, the GME department had two unexpected resignations. Laura stepped in to help fill the gaps caused by these departures, and began to proactively identify new ways to help students. Her colleague wrote, “Laura noticed that residents were struggling with a lack of mentoring and guidance subsequent to the loss of Program Director and Coordinator and reached out to Medical Education Leadership to schedule group and individual meetings to address resident concerns. Laura also began collecting and organizing important program documentation for multiple committee meetings… As a result of her interventions, we initiated multiple meetings, interviews, and new protocols to support these resident physicians.”

Thanks to Laura’s efforts and forward thinking, the residents were able to receive the support they needed during a challenging transition period. At the award ceremony, Laura was sure to note that many of her initiatives involved a team effort, and to thank her fellow colleagues for their hard work as well. Congratulations, Laura!

Amber Stinson Helps Make Graduation a Reality for Ailing Senior

LIVONIA – When a patient was admitted to St. Mary Mercy Livonia on the eve of her high school graduation, she and her parents were devastated at the thought of missing her commencement ceremony. Fortunately, she was under the care of ICU RN Amber Stinson. Amber was not only able to tend to the patient’s medical needs, but her emotional needs as well, enacting “Operation Celebration” to help the patient make it to graduation. Amber’s extraordinary efforts earned her the latest BeRemarkable Award.

Amber was nominated by a colleague, who shared the story of a patient admitted with diabetic ketoacidosis on the night before her graduation ceremony. She wrote that the patient and her parents “spent the night arguing, crying, trying to come to terms with this devastating situation they found themselves in. In the morning, Amber was assigned to be her nurse. The first thing she said after report was ‘We have to find a way to get this girl to her graduation!’ Amber set her sights on this goal, and she along with our manager, her co-workers, and the ICU resident moved mountains that day to make it happen. They managed her medical needs efficiently and effectively to make it safe for discharge.”

At that point, Amber put “Operation Celebration” into action, ensuring that the patient had access to a shower and appropriate clothes for her graduation. She even helped the patient with her makeup and hair. The colleague who nominated Amber added, “As Amber wheeled her out in her wheelchair ‘chariot,’ another nurse even played ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ music for our patient.  What started out as a crushing situation, turned into a grand story this young woman will have to tell for the rest of her life. Amber should be celebrated for being the driving force behind making this happen.”

Congratulations, Amber! Thank you for going above and beyond for this patient, and for bringing such joy to her on a milestone day.

Pete Kowalak, SJMO Security Officer, Honored with BeRemarkable Award

OAKLAND – Our Security team does more than keep colleagues and patients safe; they also contribute to patient care and improve the patient experience. Pete Kowalak, a Security Officer at SJMO, demonstrated this by helping calm an upset patient through a friendly conversation. This allowed the care team to focus on higher-acuity patients. For his kindness and compassion, Pete was honored with the BeRemarkable Award.

Pete was nominated by a colleague, who shared how Pete had helped the Emergency Department team at a stressful time. She wrote, “This evening was a particularly difficult shift in the Emergency Department… One of our nurses was overwhelmed with her assignment, and most of her time was being occupied by one patient with dementia what would almost continuously attempt to elope. Pete was assigned to the ED at the time, and he moved to that patient so that he could still watch the psychiatric patients. He was so kind to her, and he was distracting her from her desire to leave by staying with her and conversing about her family and her holidays.”

The colleague continued, “We were waiting for her husband to arrive so that the husband would stay with her and calm her enough to keep her in the ED. Pete ended up staying with her until her husband came, which allowed for the nurse to care for her other patients (one of which was critical and really needed her time) and the patient to be happy and comfortable in his care.”

Congratulations, Pete! Your compassion and thoughtfulness not only helped calm the nerves of a patient in distress, but allowed the care team to tend to other patients in need.

Colleague Award Programs Resume at St. Joe’s Oakland; Nominate Your Colleagues Today

OAKLAND – After pausing some of our programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Joe’s Oakland is excited to share that we are resuming our BeRemarkable Awards and TEAM Awards.

The BeRemarkable Award honors outstanding colleagues who embody our core values. To qualify, a colleague must have been employed by St. Joe’s for at least six months, and must not be a member of the management team. To nominate a colleague for this award, please complete this form: https://www.stjoeshealth.org/for-staff/colleague-award-nomination-form

The T.E.A.M. Award (Together Everyone Achieves More) celebrates extraordinary teams who have positively impact patient safety and/or colleague and patient satisfaction, or who have positively transformed operations. This is open to all teams, department, and committees at SJMHS. To nominate a group for the T.E.A.M. Award, please complete this form: https://www.stjoeshealth.org/for-staff/t.e.a.m-award-nomination-form

Our colleagues do incredible things every day, going above and beyond to serve patients and each other. Please help us recognize our colleagues by submitting these nomination forms and telling us about their extraordinary contributions.

Theresa Castagna Honored for Inspiring Patients who Battle Addictions

LIVONIA – Theresa Castagna, an RN on St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s Chemical Dependency Unit (CDU), helps change the lives of our most vulnerable patient populations. She hosts group sessions to help those struggling with addictions, and based on the feedback from patients, her kindness, honesty, and respect are large factors in their success. With five nominations from patients, Theresa was honored with this month’s BeRemarkable Award.

One of the patients who nominated Theresa wrote, “She made me feel like I could be sober. She is caring, kind and extremely personable.  She made me feel special with a hug when I first came in and I was scared, she instantly calmed me.”

Another patient shared, “Theresa truly cares and has compassion for her patients.  Her sessions are invaluable and spot on!  There was one session in particular that had me laughing and crying.  I left it uplifted.  I’d love if she had sessions outside of those who are hospitalized.”

Each of the nominations praised Theresa for her thoughtful and inspiring approach to her work. Congratulations Theresa, and thank you for making a difference in so many lives.

Nikki Fenner Honored for Extraordinary Patient Care, Inspiring Poem

LIVONIA – Nikki Fenner, an RN on 4 West, recently cared for another colleague’s very ill grandmother. The patient had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and was declining quickly. Nikki provided extraordinary patient care to the patient and her family, with Nikki’s colleague noting that her grandmother had been treated with compassion and love in her final hours. For her dedication to caring for patients during this challenging pandemic, Nikki was honored with the BeRemarkable Award.

Nikki was nominated by a colleague, who wrote, “Nikki is a wonder nurse from 4 West and patients and coworkers feel that she deserves to be recognized.  Nikki has received multiple caught caring cards for her excellent care that she gives to her patients and their families.  She will go out of her way to make sure that her patients are safe and getting the correct care that they need.”

The colleague whose grandmother Nikki had cared for also shared, “Nikki updated me all night and made sure grandma didn’t struggle one bit. She sat with her, prayed with her and talked to her… I feel relief that she had amazing nurses and techs taking great care of her.”

Nikki wrote a poem describing her experience as a nurse caring for COVID patients. With her permission, the poem is printed below.

12 Hours
The fear that runs through your body when…
You see a Covid positive lab result on your new admit…
The dread you feel thinking of being exposed…
Or taking the virus home… to your family…
The panic-stricken sensation you get when you…
Watch your patient struggle to breathe…
But know that you have to be strong for them…
Because we are all they have in this hospital…
The hopelessness you endure when you know your patients’ existence on this earth will be ripped away from them… and wonder, do they know…
Yet you stay strong… for the family that will be faciing a tragic loss…
The sadness that consumes you when you…
Watch your patient take their last breath…
The ear-shattering silence in the room as you work with the team to prep the body for family to pay their last respects…
The heaviness in your soul as you lay your patient in a bag…
The shudder that overcomes you with the sound of each notch of the zipper as you zip it up…
The defeat you swallow as you watch the body bag gently follow the contour of the patient’s body… while you continue to pray for them and their family
Knowing… these feelings will be repeated more times than you can handle…

Yet… we come to work with our smiles blazing…
Our best foot forward at all times…
With hopes to make them crack a smile or chuckle…
We may be tattered and torn… But…
It’s just what we do… It is embedded within us…
We ARE the backbones of these hospitals…
Making a difference… 12 hours at a time…

Congratulations, Nikki, and thank you for bringing your heart and soul with you into work each day.

With Bins and Bags, Cindy Konjarevich Delivers Remarkable Patient Care

LIVONIA – Cindy Konjarevich, an RN on 5 East, is known for her extraordinary thoughtfulness and creativity. Her acts of kindness have taken on many forms, including homemade treats and bins decorated with googly eyes. Cindy was recognized with a BeRemarkable Award for continually going above and beyond to care for staff and patients.

Cindy was nominated for the award by a fellow colleague, who provided several examples of her thoughtfulness. For instance, Cindy put together a “care bin” for patients with items they may need in the hospital, such as brushes, hearing aid batteries, floss, and more. According the the nominator, “This has been especially helpful over the last nine months as visitors have been restricted.  Cindy supplied all of these items and makes sure the bin remains stocked.”

Cindy also created a skin assessment bin, which contains supplies to help nursing staff identify patients at high risk for a pressure injury. As part of this initiative, she purchased supplies such as a large mirror to help examine the patient’s skin, and even decorated the bins with googly eyes.

Her kindness extends beyond patients to her colleagues. Cindy’s nominator wrote, “Towards the beginning of the pandemic, when PCA Week was canceled, Cindy went above and beyond to make sur the PCAs were remembered and felt appreciated for all their hard work. Cindy created a gift bag of goodies for each and every one of the PCAs on 5 East!”

Congratulations, Cindy, and thank you for bringing so much heart, energy, and compassion to work with you each day!

Ciara Young, EVS Aide, Wins BeRemarkable Award for Comforting Hospice Patients

LIVONIA – When thinking about a patient’s care team, our clinical colleagues are often top of mind. However, colleagues in a wide variety of departments contribute to our patients’ care. Ciara Young, an environmental aide in the EVS department at St. Mary Mercy Livonia, recently demonstrated this when she went above and beyond to care for a pair of hospice patients. Her compassion for these patients as they reached end of life was a great comfort, and earned her this month’s BeRemarkable Award.

Ciara was nominated by a colleague, who shared, “Ciara sat by a hospice patient’s side, holding her hand until family arrived. The patient asked her not to leave.  Ciara was very tender and comforting to the patient. The patient’s husband was next to her in his own hospice bed. Ciara was a comforting presence to this patient while the chaplain cared for the husband.”

Thank you, Ciara, for this sincere act of kindness. You were a blessing to these patients in their final days, and we are so grateful for your compassion.

Tricia Mitchell, 4 West PCT, Wins BeRemarkable Award for Care and Attentiveness

During the latest BeRemarkable Award ceremony, Chief Nursing Officer Nick Nickolopoulos remarked, “A good PCT can make your day so much smoother.” Tricia Mitchell, a Patient Care Technician [PCT] on 4 West, epitomizes this statement. Her strong work ethic, compassion, and attentiveness earned her this month’s BeRemarkable Award.

Tricia received two nominations for the BeRemarkable Award. In the first nomination, a colleague of Tricia’s wrote, “I see how she genuinely cares for our patients from giving them usual patient care to connecting and taking her time to build a rapport with them.  Tricia also has a keen sense of observation and reports it to the nurses in a timely manner.” The colleague also shared that Tricia is exceptional at anticipating patients’ and coworkers’ needs.

In another nomination, a colleague stated, “Patients and their families feel very secure in [Tricia’s] care. Tricia is usually the PCT that we have train new employees because she gives such incredible care to all of her patients… When you have Tricia with you on your hall, you know that you will have a great day because she builds relationships with her patients and they are more content.”

Thank you, Tricia, for being such a positive force on your units, and for delivering extraordinary care to our patients.