Hartford HealthCare's 2020 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing Recipients

Backus | Charlotte | Hartford Hospital | Hospital of Central CT | HHC at Home | HHC Medical Group | MidState | Natchaug | RushfordSenior Services | St. Vincent's | Tallwood | Windham

Backus Hospital

Gail Passarello

At the start of her nursing career nearly 30 years ago, Gail visited an OR to observe a surgery. “Well, I ended up staying 27 years!” she says. She is the go-to source of information for the full team, ranging from surgical techs to housekeeping to other nurses and case managers. She was instrumental in changes that were made in 2019 when neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Hornyak arrived at Backus, “so that other OR staff would know his needs, and to ensure positive patient outcomes.”

Jennifer Clachrie

Becoming a nurse “was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Jennifer says. But she is also very aware of the responsibility the job brings: “You have the ability to impact patients’ lives every day, and you cannot take that responsibility lightly. And even though my patient’s emergencies are not my own, I am here to help navigate for them and advocate for them on what might be the worst day of their lives.”

Kaitlyn Maciag

Working in the CCU always presents an array of medical issues attached to each patient, but it’s the personal issues that Kaitlyn is known for addressing. Whether it’s organizing a wedding ceremony in the hospital so a dying patient could attend, or finding a keepsake a family had left with an intubated patient that was lost, to making phone calls for a quadraplegic patient to ensure his bills were paid. “I strongly recommend identifying strategies early to promote self care and prevent compassion fatigue,” she says.

Pamela Kelly

As a mother of 5 children, Pamela Kelley obviously has lots of maternal feelings. It was, in fact, when she was a young mom nearly 30 years ago that she decided to become a nurse, specifically a maternal child health nurse. And it appears she passed down that nursing gene, as one of her daughters is currently in school, studying nursing. She feels that her experiences and knowledge as a mom is what has helped her be a successful nurse. 

Kara Giroux

Just as new moms understand their babies aren’t on a clock when it comes to feeding, so too does LDRP nurse Kara Giroux, who is a certified lactation consultant at Backus. “I often come in on my days off or after hours to provide additional lactation support and follow up care for new mothers,” she says. “I want to help them gain independence and empower them to meet their individual breastfeeding goals.” In 2019, Backus was named a Baby-Friendly Hospital by the World Health Organization, and Giroux led the team that worked on that initiative.

Roxanne Wasilko

Forty years of nursing, and Roxanne Wasilko still goes back to a lesson she learned at the outset. “As a young nurse, I thought it was about taking care of patients. Soon I learned it was also about taking care of your peers. We are in this together as an extended family, whether it’s assisting with learning a new technique, giving advice or just listening.”

Stephanie Doody

One of Stephanie’s favorite roles was precepting new nurse residents. It so inspired her, working with the men and women just starting their careers, that in 2019 she completed her MSN degree, and now works as an adjunct clinical instructor at Three Rivers Community College in addition to her “regular” job. “Healthcare and science are constantly evolving and nurses must continue to learn and help drive the changes,” she says.

Amanda Lester

Working in infection prevention has never been more important, but to Amanda Lester, it should always be a priority. As a leader on both the Hospital Acquired Infection and Infection Control Committees, she works day in and day out to make the hospital safer. “Infection prevention  should be everyone's responsibility,” she says. “As an Infection Preventionist, I want to inspire and motivate others to help prevent HAs and keep our patients safe. Rather than just dictating policies and being an "enforcer" I try to make sure that staff understand the ‘why’ behind it. If someone sees the reason behind a particular practice or policy, they are more likely to do it.”

Terry Rankin-Carle

After 28 years in the profession, Terry counsels would-be nurses that “it will be challenging, but the rewards are many. It is an honor, a privilege and a responsibility to care for people at their most vulnerable moments in life.” She says she traces this all back to a childhood accident that landed her at Backus Hospital: “I was cared for and it was a safe and positive experience,” she recalls. “I understand the importance of that.” 

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Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

Kelli Odenwaelder

As Clinical Manager of Maternity Services at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Kelli strengthens hospital relationships with new employees and shows them that a good leader’s beliefs and values come from passion, not position.  On a daily basis, Kelli is a mentor with an abundant wealth of experience and a “boots to the ground” manager who works side by side with her staff whenever the need arises.  Above all, she is an advocate – a patient’s voice when they are either struggling to be heard, or not yet able to speak. 

Denise Rainville

As an Emergency Department Nurse, Dee is usually the first face people encounter when they enter the hospital and is the “heart and soul” of her department. Dee’s experience spans more than 30 years at CHH, and she has studied the art of triage and modeled our area after best practices. As she works to stabilize a critical cardiac patient in one of her triage rooms, she remains just as focused on the patient in the next room who is in pain, scared or in crisis. 

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The Hospital of Central Connecticut

Amy Meiners

Amy started in the behavioral health field in 2011 as a nurse technician while obtaining her BSN.  After a short time elsewhere gaining experience as a new nurse, Amy returned to the behavioral health realm, noting that “this is where my heart really is.” Amy’s ability to face adversity and bizarre, challenging situations with ease, professionalism, and most importantly compassion, is something that truly sets her apart from other nurses.

Ewelina Ledas

During her years at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, Ewelina has grown and transitioned into many roles starting out as a student nurse intern, then graduate nurse, to experienced emergency room nurse, then to leadership positions as clinical resource leader, educator, and most recently manager of the education department for the Central Region. As an example, Ewelina created a three- day educational program specific for new hires that do not have emergency care experience.

John Paul Iacobelli

John Paul Iacobelli embodies each of our Hartford HealthCare values: Caring, Excellence, Integrity, and Safety. John Paul comes to work each day with an infectious positive attitude. He is warm and kind, always willing to go above and beyond for a co-worker in order to support them and the team. He provides a supportive safe environment, encouraging a patient’s trust in his care and our ED.

Jordyn Procko

Jordyn Procko exemplifies exceptional leadership skills, extraordinary patient care and has without a doubt created a legacy for herself at The Hospital of Central Connecticut’s Oncology Department. Her heart is big and she shares it with her patients. She is a gifted caregiver and trusted friend to her patients. It is not uncommon for Jordyn to come in on her day off to see a special patient, crying alongside her patient, or be seen holding their hand during their final days.

Peter Berigan

In Peter’s long tenure as a critical care nurse, his compassion and strengths shine through. Peter’s calm demeanor has served him well as charge nurse, even at times when the unit was experiencing multiple urgent matters all at once. He has the gift of getting an IV in the most challenging veins, and is happy to be the reliever when other nurses are unsuccessful. Peter is a nurse that we all aspire to be.

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Hartford HealthCare at Home

Gloria Meier

Gloria has spent her 40 year career as a nurse making a positive impact not only on the lives of her patients but on everyone she has worked with and mentored as well.  Gloria has always upheld the highest standards of clinical practice and is passionate about ensuring all clinicians who have patient contact also be held to this same standard.

Madeleine Lefevre

Throughout her career, Madeleine has consistently proven herself to be dependable and helpful in a pinch, doing whatever it takes to get the job done. She has dedicated her career to home health/palliative care and hospice and is now the leader of Hartford HealthCare at Homes’ weekend team to care for patients all across the state of Connecticut. 

Mary Jo Shulick

What makes Mary Jo unique beyond her medical expertise is the emotional support that she provides the family. She is deeply committed to all of her patients and their families and she does not hesitate to come in early or stay late to be sure they all receive the best end of life care and understand what is happening in what can be a chaotic time.

Nakisha Smith

Nakisha is the epitome of what an effective case manager and team player should be. Always displaying a positive attitude regardless of the situation, she constantly models high performance and professionalism in everything she does. The patients Kisha cares for remain safer at home, heal their wounds faster, become more confident about managing their medical needs, and maximize their independence at home.

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Hartford HealthCare Medical Group

Cathy Pistritto

Cathy has been a nurse in the vascular surgical ambulatory setting for 24 years. Her knowledge of vascular surgery, a complex subspecialty with complex patients, is vast. Cathy calls post-op patients routinely to check on them. She spends a tremendous amount of time with patients to help them feel more comfortable regarding their upcoming surgery, establishing meaningful relationships with many of our patients and their families. 

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Hartford Hospital

Amanda Terranova, Institute of Living

Amanda is a fourth-generation Hartford Hospital employee, and comes from a long family history of dedication and commitment to Hartford Hospital. She goes beyond patient care and her own patient assignment, and will often take the extra time helping the other nurses and other patients on the unit. She will work beyond her scheduled hours during a day to make sure the unit is running smoothly. She has also taken a leadership role on the IOL nursing council, developing a lean process for standardizing and improving nursing assignment sheets.

Cassandra Eilers, Hartford Hospital OR Ambulatory Core

Cassandra has been a nurse for just under four years. She came to the Operating Room right after graduation and in that short time she has excelled at becoming a perioperative nurse. She constantly strives to improve her knowledge base of procedures, techniques and patient care as well as policy. As one of the nurses most familiar with ENT procedures, Cassandra has stayed late to precept and support coworkers in these cases. She is seen as a resource not only in her own unit but also the entire OR for ENT procedures.

Christopher Mann

Chris has been a Registered Nurse on B8 for the past six years and demonstrates strong leadership skills at the bedside. After realizing that some nurses hesitated to manage the crash cart during an emergent situation, he created a virtual crash cart. This project resulted in staff taking time to learn the crash cart outside of an emergency. Education included medications, rhythms and cart contents. His idea led to hospital-wide access where nurses and other practitioners can practice, resulting in them feeling more comfortable and confident in the use of the crash cart during an emergency for a better patient outcome.

Cynthia (“Cindy”) McGarvey

Cindy McGarvey has dedicated her career to Hartford Hospital, spending nearly her entire 30+ years as a bedside nurse on a busy medical unit. Cindy has worked on the night shift for the past several years, where she provides constant oversight for the team. She has mentored and oriented countless new graduate nurses to the floor, offering them support, tough love, and her invaluable experience. She pushes them to think critically and see the whole picture. Cindy’s extensive experience and participation on the Clinical Practice Council underscores her commitment to best practice and improving the patient experience.

Jenifer Warren

Jenifer is an expert neuro-trauma nurse and Clinical Leader for the night staff of N9/N9SD. Recently she was caring for a trauma patient that experienced an acute splenic rupture. Her quick assessment, notification of the team and interventions ultimately saved this patient’s life. She supports new night nurses with her clinical expertise and ensures that all staff are informed about unit initiatives.  She has been key to the dramatic improvement in our patient engagement scores this year by rounding on patients/families during the off shift and auditing new initiatives.

Jill Cardone

The Emergency Department recently introduced a mentoring program for newly hired nurses during their first year of employment. Jill’s enthusiasm for this initiative has propelled her to the forefront as one of the most engaged mentors. She has contributed numerous ideas to the development of this program, and volunteered her time to attend all associated events. She is welcoming, approachable, and has shown an obvious passion for this support of staff and resultant team building.

Karina Gonzales

Karina is an experienced RN who exemplifies excellence in nursing in her every day practice. In her role in the Case Coordination Department at Hartford Hospital, Karina is seen as a clinical expert, role model, leader and mentor. She serves as the Case Coordinator on a very busy Teaching Medicine unit at Hartford Hospital and has been a valuable member of the Case Coordination team since 2014. She is also able to find time outside of her busy life to support the medical community by volunteering her time in the Clinical Home program at the UCONN-John Dempsey School of Medicine. This program introduces first-year medical students to the different disciplines that comprise the interdisciplinary team. Karina teaches in this program on her own time, sharing experiences as a Nurse and Case Coordinator.

Kathleen “Kathy” Burton

Kathy Burton serves as a role model and mentor to her colleagues in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. She shares her knowledge, insight and expertise as a preceptor and as a Resource (Charge) Nurse. One night Kathy was the Resource Nurse working with all new staff members. A critically ill patient was admitted who needed an incredible amount of advanced nursing care. Kathy mentored the nurse caring for the patient and insured that the rest of the unit was running smoothly. True leader that she is, she sent a note to her manager recognizing the outstanding work done by all!

Laura Albert

Laura  was recently called upon to take part in an infomercial geared towards Nurse recruitment, highlighting her role in Periop Services. Laura accepted this challenge, stepping out of her comfort zone and literally into the “spotlight.” As an RN in periop services and a “front line” nurse, she was able to emphasize the role of the periop nurse in patient care, including in assessment and patient safety. While the patient is at their most vulnerable, the perioperative nurse is their advocate, attentive to safety, infection prevention and all aspects of patient care.

Lisa Enslow

Lisa is an expert in women’s health and labor and delivery nursing. Her commitment to reducing the risks of women in child-bearing is evident throughout her work.  She is recognized as an expert in this specialty, including working as a clinical instructor for the University of Connecticut School of Nursing. Lisa has dedicated her career to the safety of women in the child-bearing phase of their lives and is a resource to the hospital staff in the management of complications during labor and delivery.

Maura Kenny

Maura Kenny has made a difference in the lives of patients and staff on the inpatient oncology unit at Hartford Hospital. As a student nurse, for her project she created what she called a “Pause” initiative, a ritual to remember patients who have died. To this day, every Wednesday, CB2 pauses during Huddle to remember and to pray for those we cared for who have passed away during the week. This bonds us as a staff and reminds us how deeply we care.

Morgan Delton

Morgan has devoted the last 3 years of her life to caring for a unique and complex group of patients in the Bone and Joint (BJI) Orthopedic unit at Hartford Hospital. Not only does Morgan go above and beyond what is expected to help make sure the team feels supported, but she also asks every team member, every day, how they are and how she can further support them. Her leadership, knowledge, family/patient centered approach, and innovation, have shaped and impacted numerous nurses, patients, families, and the unit as a whole.

Rebecca Kritzer

Becky has gone "beyond the call" in numerous scenarios, including when she fostered a newborn baby girl 10 years ago while she was working in the NICU. The infant arrived as a failure to thrive and was facing DCF removal. Becky cared for this infant as her nurse in the NICU and ultimately applied to become a foster parent for the child to provide a safe home equipped with the medical care necessary to support her until she was able to reunite with her family.

Sarah Auperin

In the fall of 2019, our Cardiovascular service - Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) program was due for our Joint Commission recertification. As our nursing educator, Sarah was amazing at making sure all the staff were up to date on their competency renewals and general preparation. Sarah is organized, methodical and went ‘above and beyond’ to make sure all staff were prepared for this very important recertification. 

Sonia Cagianello

There are so many things that make Sonia unique and an asset to her unit, including her ability to speak multiple languages. Imagine the fear and vulnerability a patient must have when unable to speak the language. Sonia lessens that patient’s fear. Sonia serves our Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking communities by improving their comfort level and trust of our hospital and staff.  She assures our patients that they are in good hands and that we will use interpretation services to mutually meet their daily needs.  

Sonia Rivera

Many of the patients that are seen at the Community Health Clinics are underprivileged, underserved and could be victims of multiple levels of trauma in addition to multiple comorbidities, leading to difficulty navigating through the healthcare system and missing the opportunity to live the healthiest lifestyle. Sonia takes the time with Physicians to discuss the patient plan and make sure that the team is all on board for the best patient care and flow.  Sonia’s caring attitude demonstrates her dedication to the patients’ healthcare needs along with their personalized care to succeed in the community.

Tari Ferguson, Center for Advanced Heart Failure; Heart and Vascular Institute; Hartford Hospital

Tari Ferguson is a VAD Coordinator in the Center for Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Vascular Disease at Hartford Hospital.  Over the last 11 years, she has positioned herself in an integral role by dedicating her time and work to patient care excellence, teaching and mentorship, and community engagement to ensure exceptional care for patients with Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD). The VAD patient population is a difficult one to manage due to the complexity of care, psychosocial support, and the imperative teaching and education needed. Tari helps facilitate the care and education of currently 40+ VAD patients and their families, work that is vital to the success and delivery of positive outcomes for the patient.

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MidState Medical Center

Shannon Jones

Shannon Jones is the clinical resource leader on Pavilion A, the Connecticut Orthopaedic Institute. She has an innate ability to know where she needs to be, and when. As an example, there was a confused, postoperative patient on the floor. Shannon remained in his room for a significant amount of time with an astounding amount of patience as well as her delightful smile. She calmed his restlessness, held his hand, and also reassured his wife. She was a consistent, comforting presence that this family needed. She is truly who the patients remember for her care and attentiveness.

Kristen Hickey

Kristen Hickey has been an exceptional nurse since the beginning of her career; she has also brought her work to new heights in her current role as stroke coordinator at MidState Medical Center and the Hospital of Central CT. She makes an effort to meet and educate every single nurse that is hired into our region who will take care of stroke patients as a means for improving patient safety, assuring provision of optimal care, and guaranteeing that her organization is a leader in care for the stroke patient population.

Adria Greising

While raising three adolescent daughters, Adria Greising matriculated through to her Masters in Nursing education, and is now teaching future nurses. She is admired for her integrity and ability to lead by example. Once a week she travels to the Hospital of Central Connecticut to mentor and teach her students not only the role of the nurse, but also how to be kind, caring, and compassionate to patients and their families. This passion for teaching students is driven by love for the nursing profession and the ability to recognize that “our nation needs competent bedside nurses.”

Cynthia Kociszewski

Cindy Kociszewski has exemplified a life-long commitment to learning and nursing practice. She was an early pioneer as an acute care nurse practitioner, and what many came to appreciate was that she was the perfect blend of nursing insight and medical acumen. She is a true 'Palliative Care Warrior' because she aggressively, in her sweet way, gives patients the information and support they need to let their choices and voices be heard. She is guided by the values of her faith —  a deep respect for each individual, and their values, as well as upholding the dignity of the individual as he or she approaches the end of his or her life.

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Natchaug Hospital

Carolle Breault

After 30 years of psychiatric nursing, Carolle Breault serves a “real-time” resource for her colleagues, brainstorming solutions to problems that arise on the floor as they happen. She remembers an instance when a patient wanted to “fire” his therapist, and the mood in the room was growing more heated by the minute. Stepping in and providing him calm reassurance, the patient’s panic subsided and he was able to resume his therapy.

Tracy Sibley

Three years into her nursing career, Tracy Sibley is working toward her APRN degree in psychiatry. Growing up with a mother who struggled with addiction issues, “caring for others has always come naturally,” she explains. “I care for patients without passing judgement and I look forward to becoming an APRN so I can have an even greater impact on the community.”

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Shelly Foster

As a family nurse practitioner with a speciality in addictions for the last 10 years, Shelly Foster works both at her job and in her community to help people make healthy choices in their lives. “In the past few years I have promoted healthy living by providing educational powerpoints, research studies and utilizing local gyms to educate people on obesity and related comorbidities,” she said. “I also volunteer at various Alzheimer’s and breast cancer events in honor of my grandmother.”

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Senior Services

Madonna Caguitla, Jefferson House, Hartford HealthCare Senior Services

Having recently taken on the role of Infection Preventionist, Madonna has become a valuable resource for the clinical team communicating with regulatory agencies and working closely with the medical providers to ensure safe patient outcomes. She is known for always being caring, empathetic, and respectful and communicates effectively with patients, family members, and other members of the health care team.

Zofia Romanowska, Jerome Home, Hartford HealthCare Senior Services

During her 25 years at Jerome Home, Zofia has been a mentor to all of the nurses with whom she has worked. She always goes out of her way to reach each nurse that may have an educational opportunity, spending time with them to teach and coach them. It is clear that this is a lifelong journey for her to be in health care and to mentor others in the field.

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St. Vincent's Medical Center

Ariana Rick, St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Westport Campus

As a nurse on the Child and Adolescent unit, Ariana works hard at engaging our patients on a daily basis. Through her own initiative, she solicited family members, associates and friends to supply new, much-needed group materials, crayons, markers, coloring books, and games to the unit. She has also created multiple teaching aids, how-to flowcharts and process aids to help her peers with their documentation and workflow.

Diana McNeil

Diana’s career at St. Vincent’s Medical Center has spanned more than 35 years and she is currently the coordinator for the Short Stay Department and our GI Suite.  Leading the GI Suite is a newer role for her, and she pursued additional education and training providing her with a better understanding of the clinical needs of the patient population served within that suite. With these new skills, she has often stepped in when needed to support the nursing staff.

Lara Sciongay, St. Vincent’s Medical Center MSG

Lara has worked in the urgent care centers for 15 years now, during her time with St. Vincent’s she has created endless relationships not because of her length of employment but because of how she cares for everyone with whom she comes in contact. Lara would give any patient or any co-worker the shirt off of her back. During a busy day when the hours tend to get away from you and you work through lunch, Lara is that nurse/employee/manager that brings you a snack because she anticipated that you needed it. 

Lynn Orser

Lynn is an experienced nurse educator who passionately promotes nursing professional growth and development.  She develops learning programs that are tailored to subject matter and audience. For example, Lynn created a house-wide nursing education program in response to an event that occurred on one of the floors. She planned, developed and executed a program that reached more than 150 clinicians in 30 days. The program was well organized, thoughtful, team-oriented and elicited positive feedback. It is now part of annual training moving forward.

Roberto Crespo

Rob maintains a positive “can do” attitude in his daily practice. When staff turnover and organizational change took its toll on the unit morale, Rob stepped in and put together outside team-building activities to boost morale. He created an activity council for the unit and is always looking for ideas for team building.

Yvonne Colon, St. Vincent’s Special Needs Children’s Residential Services

Group Home Nursing is a hybrid of so many parts of the profession, med/surg, peds, long-term care, but with an undertone of acute care management, because out in the community, there’s no MET team; timely assessment is exponentially key. Yvonne oversees and has direct care for 5 individuals, ages 16-19, all profoundly physically and intellectually disabled. Yvonne brings all of this and more to work with her every day.

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Erin Loughery

Erin takes her years of experience and clinical acumen and passes this onto new nurses. She understands that it can often be overwhelming starting as a new nurse in a practice as specialized as Urology. She takes as much time as is needed to work with them to make sure they are adjusted, comfortable, and competent. Her patience seems to be limitless! In the realm of patient care, Erin makes a meaningful and positive impact on all of the patients with whom she interacts. This is especially true for our more ill and more complex patients.

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Windham Hospital

Pamela Harazim

As an infection control specialist for more than 25 years, Pam Harazim must work across the system to ensure best practices. Her reputation as being able to listen to concerns or problems, and then troubleshoot solutions, whether it be in the pharmacy, a nursing station, or the emergency department, is well-earned. “I believe as nurses we are advocates for the best and safest care for patients, and for educating nurses and others on the patient care team.”

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