Hartford HealthCare's 2021 Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing Recipients

Backus | Charlotte | Hartford Hospital | Hospital of Central CT | HHC at HomeHartford HealthCare Medical Group | MidState | Natchaug | RushfordSenior Services | St. Vincent's | System Support Office | Windham

Backus Hospital

Theresa LaLonde, MSN, RN
A3 Medical/Surgical Unit

As nurse manager of a COVID unit during 2020, Theresa said she would “put on my game face and lead my team to success” every day. “My team stood up and fought so hard for these patients, even though they were terrified themselves.” She took on the role as a resource for trusted information both inside and outside the hospital in her community. “My values as a nurse are now forever focused on humanity, resilience and love.”

Mary Birt, RN
Float Pool

Mary had a moment of learning during her career in which a patient she was caring for became upset. “I asked him what was wrong, and he said I would not listen because everyone was always in a rush. I took a step back and realized I was rushing through my care. I stopped, and had a conversation with him, and he calmed down.” Her takeaway, she noted, was that “when working with patients, a nurse needs to advocate for them and listen to them. This can only happen with presence and patience.”

Katie Funk, BSN, RN
Emergency Department

Katie’s time in the Emergency Department has given her the ability to work with many different disciplines and individuals. Perhaps more importantly, it has honed her empathy. She recalls a day when she was called the parking lot by security because a woman was worried about her granddaughter’s mental health, but the girl wouldn’t get out of the car. “I asked if I could sit in the car with her … and after a short time I was able to connect with her by letting her feel heard. … What this young girl needed was someone to be patient and create a calm and safe environment for her.” She got the help she needed.

Carma Oakes-Breault, RN
Cardiac Rehab

A very personal incident led to Carma’s decision to focus on cardiac care in her career. “When I was 18, I came home one day to find my father in a chair, dead from a heart attack. Despite having had a previous heart attack, my dad had stopped taking his medication before he died. With my cardiac patients, I always stress the importance of maintaining their prescribed medication regimen.”

Bette Clark, RN
E1 Surgical Department

When Bette decided to go into nursing, her first career stop was becoming a CNA. “Being a CNA teaches you the hands-on care of patients. If you want to be a good nurse, you need to be at the bedside.” It’s the same reason that when COVID first arrived, she volunteered to work the COVID unit. “I wanted to make sure I got my nursing skills up to the critical care level. I will always float to other units in the hospital to help better meet the needs of the patients.”

Angela Talley, BSN, RN
A3 Medical/Surgical Unit

At the onset of COVID, Angela joined the Infection Prevention Committee that was formed in response to the pandemic. “It was important to me to join this committee when A3 became the dedicated COVID floor, so I could take the things I learned at these meetings and help alleviate fears and educate my team on the latest COVID information. During COVID I learned how important it was for me to be a support system for the nurses and techs on the floor.”

Amanda Jayne Page, MSN, RN
Plainfield Emergency Department

Do the right thing is a mantra to which Amanda adheres. A recent real-life example of its importance happened during COVID, when a critically ill patient was about to be Lifestarred to another facility. “I had the spouse come through the backdoor to say goodbye and give the patient a hug and a kiss. While the policy was no visitors, this patient and his wife had been married for over 50 years and I felt it was right for them to have a moment to say goodbye. This patient later died.”

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Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

Jennifer Bellefleur, RN, BSN

Jennifer is the Clinical Manager of Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, going above and beyond the call and leading by example each day for patients and coworkers. She is not only a strong leader, but also a loving, loyal, compassionate and empathetic caregiver who has had a lasting impact on the culture and spirit of her unit. Jen is committed to improving the experience of our team and continues to be honest and transparent about changes and challenges her team faces as they navigate the tumultuous waters of a global pandemic. Even during the darkest days, Jen's bright light of caring, critical thinking and emotional support keeps her team cohesive and capable of delivering the very best.

Susan Kellogg, RN, CNOR

Susan is Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s Operating Room Scheduling Coordinator and 34 year veteran of the Surgical Services Department. Throughout her career she has made a significant impact on patient caregiving support to patients, mentoring staff, and most recently ensuring that all patients receive the appropriate COVID-19 testing for upcoming surgeries. She continues to raise the bar and redefine her position, and contributes to the department’s success by cultivating relationships with surgeons’ offices so patients receive the care they need with the supplies and equipment they need. Sue is 100% the definition of a consummate team player and her willingness to step outside her typical role and support staff members throughout the department makes her a vital member of the Surgical Services team.

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The Hospital of Central Connecticut

Staceyann Pizzuto, BSN, RN

Stacey started as a nurse tech at HOCC in 1994, worked while in nursing school, and then after graduation. She started on a cardiac floor before transitioning to the Critical Care Unit. Stacey is a strong patient advocate and a superb clinician. Her knowledge about critically ill patients is expansive and she is a resource to all staff, nurses, and physician residents alike. But it goes deeper than that for her patients. Stacey has organized a bedside wedding, a graduation, and hand writes letters for patients. She touches and changes many lives.

Katelyn Carbone, BSN, RN, CEN

During her decade at HOCC, Katelyn has left a lifetime mark on nursing and healthcare as a whole. For example, she offered to become one of the lead nurses to administer monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19, despite the process being outside of her job requirements. Since this treatment requires 1:1 nursing care and diligent oversight of the patient, she was one of the few nurses able to administer the infusion. She took the time to educate others on the process for additional support and always worked her weekly schedule around the needs of this special patient population.

Judi Cruz, BSN, RN

Judi has dedicated 35 years to Bradley Memorial Hospital. Even during her own battle with Stage II breast cancer, Judi never wavered from her commitment to her patients and to this hospital. Judi showed up for work and was often a sense of comfort and reassurance for our patients as she silently showed them strength, bravery, and grace while fighting. She would sit with patients while they were receiving treatment and have open and honest conversations, answering all of their questions letting them know they were not alone. 

Jessica Collins, BSN, RN-BC, LPC

Jessica has transformed behavioral health in the Central Region over the past eight years, growing from an evening staff nurse on a 22-bed unit, to merging as a Central Region, to opening a new 32-bed unit. While Jessica was transforming the central region inpatient world, she was also managing a busy outpatient clinic in New Britain. She also created a business plan to open a clinic for the Southington community, which since opening has outgrown its space and is looking to open a child and adolescent clinic to provide greater access to care for that community.

Hank Christensen, BS, RN

Hank is an irreplaceable leader on his unit. He is the type of nurse that you think “Thank God you are here” when some sort of urgent clinical situation is happening with a patient. Hank is kind, authentic and has the patience of a saint. During COVID, he proved his dedication to be a nursing leader as he worked countless extra shifts to make sure nurses were supported and able to care for patients appropriately. As one colleague noted, “I would want him to be the nurse caring for my grandmother.”

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Hartford HealthCare at Home

Katelyn Bellingham, RN, BSN

“Leadership is a gift she definitely has” is something Katelyn’s colleagues say about her.  A gifted mentor and someone who is always looking to help support her patients and colleagues in everything she does is just one of the reasons Katelyn is a perfect fit for the Nightingale award.  As one of the leaders who helped pilot Hartford HealthCare at Home’s COVID vaccine program for homebound patients, she has been recognized by her colleagues, who stated that her “contribution to this program is something that she should be proud of for the rest of her career. She is a part of the Covid solution!”

“Katelyn’s dedication to her job and compassion for her patients is truly amazing,” another colleague said.  “We are all so proud of her and what she has accomplished.”

Joanne Galayda, DNS, RN, CWOCN, APRN

Joanne’s breadth of clinical experience is such that she can inform and support best practice in care delivery throughout the agency and its’ patient population. She is described as a role model whose shares clinical expertise in both formal and informal ways while also providing expert mentoring of nurses in wound and ostomy assessment and management.  She readily assumes responsibility for management of cases which present complex clinical or patient experience challenges and is a highly respected clinician across HHC.  A tireless advocate for staff, patients, and the organization, Joanne is everything a Nightingale should be. 

Bridget Kennedy, BSN

Bridget goes above and beyond her routine duties and is always involved in things that support the community, the organization, and the greater good of humanity. Every day, every shift, every moment she is always ON and seeking ways to best serve her patients, staff and the HHCAH community. To know Bridget is to LOVE her.  She is always there when you need her, is a great teacher and a pioneer in the field when it comes to helping vaccinate our homebound patients. 

During the work day staff seek her out for comfort, use her as a sounding board for their bad days, or just for help because she always finds an answer or knows just who to reach out to.

Bridget’s lifelong legacy is her incredibly high bench mark that she set’s not only for herself, but for all of us around her. 

Anona Weaver, RN

Anona always goes above and beyond for her patients.  She has achieved a life-long legacy in Hospice for her dedication to her team as well as to her patients.  Anona treats the whole patient, not just the disease while educating and providing emotional support to the entire household not just the patient during the hardest time in a patient’s life.  Her patients appreciate the way she interacts with them. They feel cared for, respected, and that they matter. She makes sure that they have the supplies they need, and the meds they need. She is not afraid to have the difficult conversations, and she will advocate for her patients. She is truly an inspiration.

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Hartford HealthCare Medical Group

Justine Monte, BSN
Hartford HealthCare Medical Group Urology

Justine is a calm and self-assured nurse, showing compassion and support to both her patients and team members alike. She is seen as an excellent mentor amongst her peers and continues to strive toward excellence in her nursing specialty.  Justine uses her knowledge and expertise to help patients cope with illness in a kindhearted, compassionate, and caring way.  But simply put, Justine gives her time.  She takes that extra moment in her day to sit with patients when they arrive and actively listens to what their concerns are. 

During this pandemic Justine has mastered smiling with her eyes and uses her humor to make her patients feel comfortable during these unprecedented times. 

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Hartford Hospital

Diane Bagioni, MSN, RN
Cardiology Nurse Educator

Diane Bagioni, MSN, RN contributes to Hartford Hospital as a leader who blends her passion for nursing with a strong desire to teach others. A cardiology nurse educator, Diane’s research illuminates the impact preceptors have on novice nurses establishing confidence in their new role, which ultimately facilitates nurse satisfaction and retention. Her leadership in the standard work surrounding the safety of patients requiring cardiac monitoring has been invaluable to patients and colleagues alike.

Katherine “Kat” Berry, BSN, RN
Emergency Department

Katherine “Kat” Berry, BSN, RN, is recognized in the Hartford Hospital Emergency Department for her ability to teach, coach, and mentor new staff. Kat demonstrates expert clinical competence and is a natural resource for her peers through her constant display of the HHC core values and leadership behaviors.  As a Staff Lead of the Mentoring program, Kat is responsible for organizing events and check-ins, promoting staff engagement, recruiting new members, and leading regular meetings that ensure the development and consistent success of the program.

Christine Cosgrove, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC
Heart & Vascular Institute, Infusion Center

Christine Cosgrove, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC is a “sleeves up” asset to her team at the Heart Failure Infusion Center and Bridge Clinic at Hartford Hospital, engaging all her colleagues to practice at a high level, especially the nurses and medical assistants. Her patient relationships set her apart, building trust, respect and friendships that last long after patients are sent home. Christine’s connections to patients on a professional and personal level are a source of admiration in her department. She is a role model to colleagues and in particular, nurses.

Charmaine Dela Cruz, RN
Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit

As a clinical nurse, preceptor, resource nurse, safety champ, and member of the Nursing Clinical Practice Council, Charmaine Dela Cruz, RN brings her best every day, collaborating with her colleagues to deliver hospital best practices. Her style of mentoring and coaching focuses on safety as a priority, effective communication and a focus on patient experience. Charmaine is an active contributor to the diversity and inclusion at Hartford Hospital, putting patients at ease with her fluency in English, Tagalong, Pangasinan and Spanish. She is pursuing the language interpreter certification at Hartford Hospital. 

Cassandra DeMonte, MSN, RN
Institute of Living

Cassandra DeMonte, MSN, RN is known as an astute observer of changes in her patients and an ardent advocate for patient safety. During the pandemic and influx of travel nurses, Cassandra offered to precept as many as four travel nurses at a time to lighten the burden of the other staff nurses and ensure that the nurses got consistent training to optimally support the IOL staff nurses during the pandemic. She is respected for being a dependable team player and a leader and teacher in medical and psychiatric emergencies.

Jenelle Dunstan, BSN, RN
Ayer Neuroscience Institute

Janelle Dunstan, BSN, RN is a clinical leader who keeps her unit running smoothly while providing excellent care to patients. Upon learning that patients were not satisfied with the noise levels in the unit, Janelle instituted a “quiet hour” in the afternoon. This initiative prompted a drastic improvement in patient experience surveys. She mentors and supports new staff and is responsible for a poster that highlights staff members, allowing colleagues to learn more about each other, engaging patients, families and her team.

Julian Forbes-Samuels, BSN, RN-BC
Medicine, CB5

Julian Forbes-Samuels, BSN, RN-BC consistently demonstrates excellence in nursing care. She not only takes great care of her patients, but she develops memorable relationships that her patients remember long after their stay on the unit. One patient wrote of Julian, “I appreciate Julian’s intervention by acting as a patient advocate for me when I was unable to stand up for myself.” Julian’s innate maternal instinct endears her to colleagues, patients and families alike. She is quick to comfort her team members in stressful times and is has a reassuring demeanor that leaves a lasting impression on all who meet her.

Rosanne M. Gregory, BSN, RN, ACM-RN
Case Coordination

In the six years that she’s been a nurse, Rosanne M. Gregory, BSN, RN, ACM-RN has served as a preceptor and resource nurse. Additionally, she has served as a preceptor for new Case Coordinators, mentoring them to their new role. Her work in this regard is exceptional, pacing orientation perfectly, assisting and supporting the new hire to quickly gain just the right experience so they in turn are comfortable, educated, and most of all confident in their new fast-paced and ever changing role within the hospital and our healthcare system.

Alexandra Gunter, BSN, RN
General Surgery, B8

It is said that Alexandra Gunter, BSN, RN has the gift of transforming new nurses into strong practitioners. With her strong leadership skills, she leads morning team huddles and progression rounds with ease.  Alex was instrumental in continuing the “Proactive Family Phone Call” program on Bliss 8. The program involves partnering with families to designate a time to discuss patient information, with a goal of keeping the patient’s family informed, decrease anxiety and decrease the number of phone calls that can interfere with patient care. The program won an award from the Research Alliance. 

Dawn Hydes, MSN, RN, CNOR, ENB
Perioperative Services

When COVID struck, Dawn Hydes, MSN, RN, CNOR, ENB was quick to bring COVID education and assistance to Perioperative Services at Hartford Hospital. Together with IP, perioperative and pathology teams, she creative OR protocols for the correct use of PPE, training colleagues across all shifts. She was instrumental in developing educational resource binders that focus on COVID best practices, collaborating with colleagues in other departments. Dawn assisted OR teams daily with donning and doffing, creating an atmosphere of safety, calm and focus for all.

Allison “Allie” Madden, BSN, RN
Women's Health

As a Nurse Clinical Leader in Labor & Delivery, Allison “Allie” Madden, BSN, RN is often sought out to help in difficult situations and is well respected by her peers at Hartford Hospital. One of Allie’s passions is finding opportunity to improve quality and safety, with a focus on infection prevention. She is an active member of the Infection Prevention Committee and translates key initiatives to the clinical environment, such as isolation carts for COVID patients on Labor & Delivery. This has supported staff in their ability to provide safe patient care in the intimate environment of labor and birth while actively advocating for her patients. 

Roxana “Roxy” Murillo, MSN, RN, CCRN, TCRN
Surgical Critical Care

Roxana “Roxy” Murillo, MSN, RN, CCRN, TCRN is a go-to source of knowledge and support in her Critical Care unit, always at the ready to provide support in clinical situations through education and her trusted and calm demeanor. She was the first nurse in C8I to become certified in Trauma Nursing, and teaches in PAA arrhythmia class. This Telemetry Safety Champion has been a member of the Alarm Management group for years and is an active participant in ICU Skills Day. Roxy is a validated interpreter and is often called upon for her expertise in this area not only to improve communication but for her compassion that eases both patient and family members.

Michelle Nai, MSN, RN-BC, GRN

A leader in geriatric nursing, Michelle Nai, MSN, RN-BC, GRN is always willing to go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to improve patients’ quality of care. From creating a template in EPIC to educate staff on available non-pharmacological interventions to designing a “Geriatric Daily Activity Plan” tailored to a patient’s personal interests, Michelle has facilitated many novel approaches to supporting best practices for patients. Her primary focus is always to be the strongest advocate for each and every patient she encounters at Hartford Hospital.

Kimberlee “Kim” Perez, BSN, RN
Star Team

As a nurse on the Star Team, Kimberlee “Kim” Perez, BSN, RN has been generous with her time and knowledge, mentoring new nurses and supporting the ones who may be facing challenges along the way. A graduate of Capital Community College, Kim is proud of her path and wants other CCC nurses to feel the same way. Kim was selected by Star Team nursing leadership to be in the first cohort of Star Stepdown RNs to orient to critical care nursing. COVID emerged during the orientation, but Kim stepped up to the challenge and while her orientation was put on hold, she was placed on medical ICUs to care for some of the sickest patients in the hospital. Her success was the basis for the program to continue with other Star RNs.

Shannon Rattrey, BSN, RN
Vascular Thoracic/Trauma

When the Bliss 5 unit saw multiple changes in patient demographics during COVID – from surgery, adding cardiothoracic surgery, to COVID  positive, to all medicine and now part medicine part surgery, Shannon Rattrey, BSN, RN was the first one to get educated about the new population and volunteer to care for those patients. She was a leader, inspiring and supporting her colleagues to learn and care for the new populations as the pandemic evolved. Shannon also teaches Certified Nursing Assistant courses in order to pass along her love for patient care. She teaches in these classes with the hope of inspiring CNAs to continue their education in nursing and receive their RN license.

Carmen Santos, MSN, RN
Bone & Joint Institute

As a Clinical Nurse Leader at the Bone & Joint Institute ambulatory clinics, Carmen Santos, MSN, RN puts her clinical expertise to work with the underserved population by teaching them better health and wellness behaviors.  As she always ensures that they make their appointments and follow ups for a better clinical and holistic outcome.  Carmen spends her time teaching, coaching, and mentoring all patients to lead to a better outcome in their care, consistently going above and beyond to ensure that there are no access-to-care issues and the patients are followed up for all issues, even if it’s not an orthopedic issue. 

Devon Valenti, BSN, RN
Medical Critical Care

In the Bliss 11 ICU, Devon Valenti, BSN, RN stands out as a mentor to new nurses on the unit. She has encouraged a culture of education in her unit, going beyond the call of a caring nurse and allowing her team members to follow evidence-based practice guidelines and to provide the best care to patients. During the pandemic, Devon was more than willing to take nurses new to the ICU under her wing as a preceptor. She’s a role model, encouraging her colleagues to truly live in the moment, be curious and ask the right questions to advocate for our patients’ care, and how to utilize knowledge to maintain control and calm – even in the most anxiety-inducing situations.

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MidState Medical Center

Shannon Steele, BSN, RN

Shannon makes the effort to learn the names of every patient’s family members so she can develop a rapport and be an ally. During COVID, she would take her iPad from patient to patient, making sure they each had contact with their families. She would relay messages and help them stay in touch. Her relationships were so deep that she would cry and empathize with them. She is an incredible role model for her team.

Kimberly Wall, RN, CAPA, ONC

After nearly 40 years at MidState, Kim personifies Hartford HealthCare's core values of Integrity, Caring, Excellence and Safety, which she displays through her interactions with patients and her colleagues. She is so much a part of the fabric of the hospital that often a patient coming in for a procedure will ask if Kim is working. Additionally, she never hesitates to mentor or teach a newer nurse.

Karen Custy, RN

Karen is assigned as Charge Nurse virtually every shift she works. She has an enormous yet quiet impact on her coworkers as they feel comfort knowing that they can approach her with any questions they may have. She never hesitates to find a teachable moment. For example, whether or not Karen is scheduled to be a preceptor with an orient she brings all of her colleagues together when there is a training opportunity so that all will benefit from the learning experience.

Desiree Colon, ADN, RN

In mid-March 2020, Pavilion D was designated as the COVID unit. During a time of uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, and challenges, Desiree could be relied upon to come to work every day focused and determined to conquer the day no matter what came her way. She had a positive attitude and maintained this as a mentor throughout the pandemic. Desiree provided daily prayers of strength and encouragement for her team and patients which was greatly appreciated.

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Natchaug Hospital

Jodie Sylvester, MSN, RN
Child & Adolescent Inpatient Unit

Jodie knows that sometimes a small gesture can make a big difference. As a nurse on the child and adolescent inpatient unit at Natchaug Hospital, her kind and compassionate nature aids in providing excellent care for her patients and support to her coworkers. With her warm energy, she provides patients with a sense of security and validity. Jodie brings a compassionate drive to the behavioral health community, which does not go unnoticed. In addition to developing a mentorship program for newly hired nurses at Natchaug, she also contributes by precepting nursing students to the profession she holds near and dear. “Having the ability to help individuals get better and know I’m making a difference is the most rewarding feeling I’ve ever felt,” she said. 

Alexandra Kosakowski, MSN, RN-BC, CARN
Nursing Services Office

As Natchaug Hospital’s professional education manager, Alexandra Kosakowsk is viewed as a valuable resource to her peers – offering advice and support on everything from career development to educational opportunities.  She is known for going above and beyond her job duties to make sure her colleagues are comfortable in their roles – even staying an extra four hours beyond her shift to coach a new employee through a difficult shift. “Caring for patients (and staff) is incredibly rewarding and exhausting too. Remember to care for yourself and find joy outside of nursing – that way you can be your best self when you’re with patients and staff,” she said.

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Melissa DeSisto, RN
Residential Programs and Admissions

While nursing may be her second career, Melissa DeSisto knew that it was always her calling. As a nurse for Rushford’s detox/residential programs and admissions team, her goal for each day is to help as many people as she can. On the job, Melissa sees patients regularly with newly diagnosed psychiatric conditions who may not always be comfortable with a new medication prescription. Melissa makes it a point to stay educated on medications and their usage to advise patients and advocate on their behalf. “Being a nurse at Rushford means providing excellent customer service all of the time no matter what it takes,” she said.

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Senior Services

Scott Dupuis, LPN
Southington Care Center

Scott Dupuis, LPN, has truly distinguished himself in the nursing field where some statistics show only 12 percent of nurses are men. In his role as charge nurse at Southington Care Center, Scott is known as a mentor to fellow staff, a liaison to families, and a friendly face to patients. Primarily a nurse serving short-term rehabilitation patients, Scott transitioned easily to care for patients with COVID-19 to support the clinical team as necessary.

Scott, whose father and aunt are nurses, chose the healthcare field when it was included as part of his vocational education. Since he earned his LPN license in 2004, he has continued facing the challenges as nursing has become more complex in meeting the needs of patients with multiple diagnoses. “My greatest reward is having the patient or their family saying ‘thank you’ for taking care of them when they are discharged or if they come to us for their final end-of-life care,” he said.

Sandra Ingriselli, RN
The Orchards of Southington

Sandra “Sandy” Ingriselli, RN, has rightfully earned the longevity record at The Orchards of Southington. Opened in 1998, The Orchards has become her second home over the 17 years that she has worked there as the SALSA (Supervisor of Assisted Living Services Agency).
In response to the unprecedented challenges of the past year, Sandy implemented new policies and educated staff to ensure the safety and health of everyone. It was hard seeing the residents’ communal life come to a halt as activities were cancelled, in-person family visits were discontinued, and the dining rooms closed. Everyone pulled together in adherence to state guidelines and protocols. “We were all working for the common goal,” she said.

Ingrid Kausyla, RN, BSN, CDP
Mulberry Gardens

Ingrid said she always felt she was a natural caregiver. That was demonstrated when she put her love in action as a teenager by caring for her great-aunt through her end-of-life journey. She realized then that a nursing career was meant to be.

During the past 20-plus years, Ingrid held many healthcare roles before coming to Mulberry Gardens of Southington where she serves as director of wellness and director of the adult day program. She was well prepared; her background includes hospice, case management, medical ICU step-down and progressive cardiac units; IV therapy; and assisted living and memory care as a SALSA.

Now, she feels like she has found her place in life – even though the last 12 months have been unprecedented. During the pandemic, she often worked seven days a week to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and staff. Her positive attitude, determination, unending strength and laser-focus ensured that she delivered excellence, even with new challenges and protocols every day.

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St. Vincent's Medical Center

Lynn Noyes, RN, BSN

Lynn utilizes her 35 plus years of nursing expertise and experience to provide the highest level of care for her patients as well as their families. Her exemplary care and professionalism is the gold standard to which all health care providers should aspire to. During the months of April and May of 2020, the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) was converted to the COVID ICU overflow. Working in the PACU, one typically does not deal with death. Lynn rose to the occasion to give compassionate care not only to her COVID patients but also gave support to her colleagues who struggled with these challenges. Death was a daily occurrence and watching patients die without their family was very difficult for all. These conditions took a tremendous toll on the PACU staff, with Lynn’s support and encouragement the staff was able to weather the worst of the COVID crisis.

AnnMarie Franklin O’Connor, RN

AnnMarie is the charge nurse on the night shift on our 40 bed cardiology unit. She works four 12 hour shifts per week to help us through the staffing challenges we have encountered over the past year. During COVID we quickly had to become a COVID cardiology unit and AnnMarie helped lead us through our morning huddles with words of prayer and encouragement to help our team through the very hard shifts we had encountered. She is always a source of positivity and I frequently hear her offering words of prayer to her patients in their darkest times. She never said, “We can’t do that.” She rallied her team and always asked “what more can we do.”

Lucinda “Cindy” A Siclari, BSN, CCRN

In addition to being an outstanding ICU nurse, Cindy is the founding Medical Emergency Team (MET) nurse, responding to emergent needs and providing real-time education and feedback to the nurses on the units and clinical environments where the MET team is called. In the ICU, where she frequently has to take an assignment while also being on call for MET, she is a fantastic patient advocate and has facilitated goals of care discussions with patients, family, providers, and the palliative care team. The success of the MET team is a direct reflection on Cindy’s dedication, skill set, disposition, and desire to be a positive influence both on the patients she is called to assess and the nurses and staff who provide care.

Toni Nickle Berry, BSN, RN, CMSRN

Toni is the Clinical Nurse Leader of two busy medical/surgical units. Her can-do attitude is infectious. She has a great rapport with the staff that makes them want to follow her lead, even when the direction may not be where they want to go. By explaining the why, she leads them where they need to go. Toni also goes above and beyond for her patients and their families. On one occasion a bedridden patient was discharged to home and the patient and family were concerned about his care. Toni did not hesitate to respond to the patient’s needs by driving to his home after work to assist the family with getting him settled. This is just one example of her dedication to patient care.

Sharmin Kleiber, BSN
Behavioral Health

Sharmin is regarded as a veteran nurse, here on the Westport campus. She has 13 years of dedicated service with St Vincent’s. Sharmin embodies the core value, of HHC, integrity, caring, excellence and safety. She combines best practice and compassionate care to achieve our mission to improve the health and healing of the people and communities we serve. Sharmin vigorously advocates for her patient needs, by questioning discrepancies and celebrating their successes. She has taken the initiative to purchase hair care products for our African American patient who required special hair care product for hair maintenance. Sharmin is not only an excellent care giver, she is also a resource for her peer and a mentor for newly hired nurses and Mental Health Workers and nursing students.

Linda Scillia, RN
Behavioral Health

Linda brings forth compassion and empathy to the child and adolescent population.  She is dedicated and ensures the safety of her patients and peers.  Linda is the “go to” if a situation arises and takes on the role as a mentor and as friend for peers on the Child-Adol unit. Linda began her career at St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health as a Mental Health Worker.  She graduated from St Vincent’s College and became an RN and is currently attending Sacred Heart University to obtain her BSN.

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System Support Office

Linda Ruggiero, BSN, MSN, RN
Hartford HealthCare System Support Office, Clinical Informatics

In her nearly 35 years of clinical/managerial experience, Linda has made a name for herself as a detail-oriented person who can take charge of complex projects and see them through to successful completion. She has made a significant impact on patient care through her never-ending efforts to streamline the efficient use of information technology to improve the lives of care providers and the patients we serve. Above all, she never loses sight of the goal to improve patient outcomes, with a passion for quality and safety above all.

Jason McDermott, BSN, RN, CPXP
Hartford HealthCare System Support Office, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

Jason combined his professional expertise as a nurse, his extraordinary empathy and compassion, and his astute analytical skills, to lead the Emergency Department Transformation project at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (CHH) to success. His tireless efforts on this project has changed how the community sees the hospital. Most inpatients come through the ED—it is virtually the “front door” for our patients. Jason changed the way his colleagues and staff see quality of care, safety and engagement—seeing what’s possible and raising the bar.

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Windham Hospital

Holly Cato, RN, BSN

Holly has spent 34 of her 35 years in nursing in the operating room. Still, she notes, “I learn something new, or a new way to do something, just about every day.” She arrived at Windham as a travel nurse, and stayed. “When I saw staff hold their patients’ hands, cry with them, laugh with them, talk about their kids and grandkids with them … That’s what kept me here.”

Emily Church, RN, BSN
Emergency Department

Four years ago, Emily spearheaded Windham Hospital’s Veteran’s Day initiative. “As a veteran myself, I realized that population at the hospital was not being acknowledged.” Each Veteran’s Day, Emily rounds through the hospital, greeting each patient who is a veteran and presenting each with a card and a ribbon. “I spend time with them, and listen to their stories of being in the military.”

Christen Perkins, RN
Emergency Department

While her "regular" job as a nurse in the Emergency Department keeps her plenty busy, Christen started volunteering at COVID vaccine clinics when they opened up. "We have all been affected by COVID in one way or another, and if there is one thing that people have in common, it's that we all want some sense of normalcy back in our lives. For so many people, the vaccine will start us on that path. My thought is that the more we can volunteer to help get these vaccines administered, the more people we can vaccinate.

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