Emergency Hospital Systems sweeps nursing contest

Janis Owens, RN, is the DAISY Award honoree for Emergency Hospital Systems for the first quarter of 2023. She is pictured receiving a special pin for her nametag from EHS Chief Nursing Officer Cassie Kavanaugh (left).

Thursday, Feb. 9, was a day of celebration for the nursing staff of Emergency Hospital Systems (EHS). At a breakfast event held at Texas Emergency Hospital in Cleveland, more than a dozen nurses were recognized as nominees for the DAISY Award, which recognizes nurses who go above and beyond to provide passionate care to patients and their families, and the Pineywoods Texas Nurse of the Year Award, which recognizes top rural health nurses for this region of Texas.

EHS Chief Nursing Officer Cassie Kavanaugh said the awards were a testament to the skill, dedication and hard work of nurses from all across Emergency Hospital Systems.

“Because we are a rural hospital, a smaller hospital, we cannot offer a lot of the things that the bigger hospitals can offer, but these contests are an opportunity to recognize nurses we know should be recognized. We don’t have the financial means of a bigger hospital, but that doesn’t mean we are giving less care. It often means we are giving better care,” said Cavanaugh, passing on the praise to her nurses and their supervisors.

Of the seven nurses nominated for the DAISY Award for the first quarter of 2023, Janis Owens, an RN at Texas Emergency Hospital in Cleveland, was picked as the honoree. Owens has 47 years of experience in nursing and joined the Cleveland hospital at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DAISY Foundation, which sponsors the DAISY Award, was established in 1999 in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at the age of 33 from an autoimmune disease. The nursing staff who cared for Barnes in his final days made such an impression on the Barnes family that they established this international award as a way of thanking other nurses everywhere.

Owens, as well as the other quarterly nominees for Emergency Hospital Systems, who will be selected later this year, will take part in the national DAISY Award contest.

The remaining nominees for this quarter are Rahila Bham (medical-surgical nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital), Mahiya Bynum (medical-surgical nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital), Mercedes Medina (medical-surgical nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital), Trish Foster (medical-surgical nurse and ER nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital and EHS-Porter), Carrie Holliday (medical-surgical nurse at EHS-Deerbrook) and Pamela Clark (medical-surgical nurse and ER nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital and EHS-Deerbrook).

Roughly 40 nurses from across the region were nominated for the Pineywoods Texas Nurse of the Year Award with 13 of the nominees coming from EHS hospitals. Four of the top six nurses for EHS received all-expenses-paid, 10-day vacation packages to resorts in Antigua.

The Pineywoods Texas Nurse of the Year Award is in its first year and was established by AccentCare Hospice and Palliative Care.

Amanda Maggio, hospice consultant for AccentCare, praised Emergency Hospital Systems for having the most nominees in the contest.

“There were more winners from here than anywhere else. You guys are running such a wonderful organization,” she said.

The top nurses in this contest were:

  • Tristin Hancock – operating room nurse at Texas Emergency Hospital in Cleveland and EHS-Deerbrook
  • Jordan Small – nurse manager for Texas Emergency Hospital in Cleveland and EHS-Deerbrook
  • Estee Cokenour – house supervisor and ER nurse for Texas Emergency Hospital in Cleveland
  • Ronna Baker – employee health nurse for all four EHS locations
  • Erin Medina – director of emergency services for emergency rooms at all EHS locations
  • Vu Hunygh – emergency room nurse at EHS-Deerbrook

Hancock, Small, Cokenour and Baker all received the grand prize vacation packages while Medina and Hunygh received gift baskets.

Other nominees were Norma Burns (emergency room nurse – Cleveland), Leslie Armstrong (cath lab nurse – Cleveland), Caitlin Sims (cath lab nurse – Cleveland), Rebecca Hall (emergency room nurse – Cleveland), Robyn Nollkamper (director of education for all EHS locations), Wilda Torrez (cath lab nurse – Cleveland), and Erin Lazo (medical-surgical nurse – EHS-Deerbrook).

“I am super proud of everyone. I wanted to nominate everyone,” said Kavanaugh. “From where we started when we walked into this hospital to where we are now with growth in the leadership team and staff, and the acuity level that we take care of, it’s just amazing. None of this could have been done without everyone. We are a team, and we are a family. Thank you, everyone, for what you do.”

Kavanaugh also praised the support staff of the hospital for making it possible for these nursing achievements.

“Everybody, all departments, are a part of the team, and everybody puts in and does a good job – from respiratory, radiology, lab and pharmacy. It takes everyone,” she said.

As the awards ceremony began to wrap up, EHS CEO Michael Adkins stepped forward to offer his congratulations to the winners and to praise Kavanaugh as the leader of the nursing staff.

“I have been a nurse for 25 years and I have worked for and worked with a lot of CNOs in my time. There is really not another CNO that I have ever experienced in my career that I can plug into this organization and have the success and the team building, and achieve the results that Cassie has achieved,” he said.

Turning to speak directly to Kavanaugh, Adkins continued, “I think it speaks volumes to your capabilities for all the awards in this room. I appreciate everybody, but I don’t want it to be lost that you are the chief of the nursing ship, and boats don’t sail without a good captain.”

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