RWJBarnabas Health nurses honored with NJ Emergency Nurses Association awards

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — RWJBarnabas Health is proud to announce that six nurses from across the health system have been honored with New Jersey Emergency Nurses Association 2022 State Awards. Presented at a ceremony held in March during the NJENA state dinner in Atlantic City, nurses earned the President’s Award, Behind the Scenes Award, Clinical Nurse Leadership Award, Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award, Pediatric Award, and the Crisis Team Award.

“Our nurses play a vital role across our health system and in our communities providing patients and families with the highest level of compassionate, innovative, quality care,” said Nancy Holecek, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for RWJBarnabas Health. “Each and every person on our nursing teams have made a substantial difference this past year and I would like to offer all of our awardees my personal thanks for their passion, hard work and dedication.”

Kathy Feeney, a registered nurse at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, was recognized with the Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award. This award recognizes a nurse who exemplifies outstanding emergency nursing practice as demonstrated through clinical skills, care and compassion. In her 40 years of nursing, Feeney has been an exceptional and devoted pediatric emergency room nurse for more than 28 years. Specifically, Feeney has been active in promoting concussion-screening and transilluminator–vein-finder products. She has worked to ensure best practice and policy development in triage, pediatric resuscitation and cardiac arrest, and is a strong advocate for the maintenance of pediatric emergency nursing as a specialty. 

Presented to the Emergency Department team at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, the Crisis Response Team Award recognizes an emergency department health care team that has risen above and beyond by responding to the challenges of working during a crisis. According to RWJBarnabas Health, the ED team at Clara Maass has always been known for thinking outside the box and for innovation, even before the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic urged the ED staff to continue in this mindset, adapting to the challenges that emerged. Early in the pandemic, the ED team recognized the need to keep specific areas free of COVID-19 and helped to create waiting rooms for patients who potentially had the virus and entire sections of the ED were dedicated to safe isolation care. To support community care, telemedicine was introduced by the ED, allowing patients to see an emergency physician without visiting the hospital. This successful program increased access to care and is now being adopted by other emergency departments in the health system. 

Presented to Cathlyn Robinson, director of operations for the emergency service line for RWJBarnabas Health, the President’s Award is given at the discretion of the NJENA president to an individual that has had a great impact on the president’s career through inspiration, mentorship, teaching or support. As a registered nurse for 30 years and an emergency nurse for more than 25 years, Robinson has worked in emergency departments in both the United States and Canada. Her experience spans working as a staff RN, a clinical education specialist for 10 years and a clinical nurse specialist in trauma. She is a Trauma Nursing Core Course and Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course director and is certified to give emergency and trauma care. She has presented at conferences at local, state, national and international levels and is an active member of the NJENA.

Laura Lark, vice president of the emergency services line, was awarded the Behind the Scenes Award, which recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions behind the scenes to promote NJENA’s mission of advocating for patient safety and excellence in nursing practice through their support of a member or members. The recipient of this award is an NJENA advocate who is often seen but not heard, and who donates countless hours to assist in achieving the organization’s goals. Under Lark’s leadership, the RWJBarnabas Health’s Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores increased by 15 percent. She is also dedicated to working to find methods to improve emergency departments and patient care in creative and innovative ways, including encouraging the use of the care-team model. 

The Clinical Nurse Leadership Award, which recognizes a nurse who has consistently demonstrated excellence in the profession of emergency nursing and has made significant contributions through an emergency nursing role, was given to Jennifer Lees from Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. 

The Pediatric Readiness Improvement Award, which recognizes an NJENA nurse who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to improve readiness in caring for children in the emergency care setting, was awarded to Katie Linares, from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. 

Photos Courtesy of RWJBarnabas Health

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