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Nurses of Distinction

2013 Nurses of Distinction

Hakimah Beebe, RN


Ms. Beebe has been at St. John’s since 2000. She just transferred to the ICU, but previously worked on the Telemetry Unit where she trained orientees. She had a real knack for helping new graduates adjust to clinical environments and was known to “cover all bases.” She collaborated with team members in order to offer her orientees exposure to many experiences. Ms. Beebe taught her orientees where to find information and the importance of following procedures. Whether training new hires or learning the ropes of a new unit herself, Ms. Beebe manages well even in extreme situations. She holds her Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and is currently enrolled at Hunter College, pursuing her nurse practitioner degree in Adult and Geriatric Care.

Pauline Bell, RN

Nurse Leader

Ms. Bell has been at St. John’s since 1990. She is Manager of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit. Ms. Bell can also manage other medical/ surgical departments, as demonstrated during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. In fact, Ms. Bell works as a weekend supervisor, where she ‘covers’ the entire Hospital! An accomplished registered nurse for more than 30 years, Ms. Bell provides sound guidance to her team, always epitomizing grace, dignity and integrity. She demonstrates superb critical thinking, With the patient always at the forefront of her thoughts, Ms. Bell is a leader in multidisciplinary and multidepartmental efforts to enhance patient care. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Long Island University.

Fisayo Ogunyomi, RN

Novice Nurse

After graduating from Adelphi University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, Mr. Ogunyomi sought to find employment. At first, he volunteered in our Emergency Department. After several months, he was offered a position on the Telemetry Unit where he has worked for slightly less than two years. Mr. Ogunyomi has the qualities of tolerance, patience and empathy, which endear him to his patients and their families, as well as to his team members, and make him an exceptional novice nurse. He is known as the kind of nurse who can “put the piece of the puzzle together”-a task not always easy for a new nurse. He cares for his patients with compassion and is able to coordinate their care in a highly efficient and safe manner.

2012 Nurses of Distinction

Kathy Healy, RN

Nurse of Distinction

Ms. Healy has been at St. John’s for 39 years as a nursery RN. When the nursery became com- bined with the postpartum unit to become a Mother/Baby unit, Ms. Healthy made a smooth transition. Her clinical practice is excellent in every detail. She is a team player, a mentor to other staff, and an enthusiastic supporter of the initia- tives of her individual area and the Hospital. She is reliable and has a strong work ethic. In addition to

her role as a staff nurse, Ms. Healy is also a childbirth educator and runs Lamaze class for the community in the evening. She is a certified lactation counselor, as well. Ms. Healy earned her bache- lor’s from St. Josephs’ College in Brooklyn and is a graduate of St. Luke’s School of Nursing.

Vicky Backus, RN

Nurse Leader

Ms. Backus, Director of Emergency Services since 2008, is a valued member of the Leadership Team. She is instrumental in guiding pol­icy, recruiting and educating staff, and taking an active leadership role as a continued daily presence in the Emergency Department. She is responsible for both the main emergency room and the psychiatric emergency area, over­seeing more than 70 staff with varying skill levels. She works well with all her colleagues within the nursing, medical and administra­tive staffs. Through her excellent communication skills, she keeps all staff informed of new policies, initiatives and goals and has inspired others to achieve more and dedicate themselves to making their Emergency Department shine for the community they serve.

James Moriah, RN


Mr. Moriah has been with St. John’s since 1996. He began as a nurse’s aide and transporter. He went to Queensborough Community Col- lege and earned his associate’s degree, then to Lehman College and earned his bachelor’s and be- came a registered nurse. He trains new nurses in the evenings and nights on Tower 10. An excellent nurse first and foremost, Mr. Mo- riah has excellent critical thinking and patient assessment skills, which enable him to quickly note and address even subtle changes in a patient’s condition. He is often seen as the team leader and remains helpful, compassionate and cool under pressure. With Mr. Moriah as a role model, all his colleagues want to jump in and take responsibility and make the unit clinically excellent.

Anita Sawyer, RN

Novice Nurse

Ms. Sawyer, a nurse on the

Tower 11 Cardiac Care Center, started her career at St. John’s as a member of the ancillary staff. She showed an immediate keen interest in nursing, so no one was surprised when she completed her schooling at St. Paul’s School of Nursing and was licensed as a reg­istered nurse. Ms. Sawyer has an inquisitive mind and is always ask­ing to learn more. After one year on the surgical care unit, she transferred to telemetry where she quickly mastered dysrhythmia identification. The staff on both units are impressed by her dedica­tion to her patients, her willingness to learn and her desire to move quickly from novice to expert. “I enjoy working as a nurse every single day. I care a lot about people,” says Ms. Sawyer.

2011 Nurses of Distinction

Nadege Celestin, RN

Nominated for Preceptor of Distinction.

Ms. Celestin has been at St. John’s for 11 years and finds it rewarding to help new nurses become acclimated with the protocol and initiated to the team. “I like sharing my knowledge with them,” she says. Ms. Celestin points out that there is a culture here that encourages nurses to work independently and grow. “There is a great support from the nurse managers and the Nursing Department Administration,” she says.

As to the nomination, she shares: “I was extremely surprised—it’s an awesome experience to have that moment of recognition from your colleagues. It’s rewarding as a nurse.”

Gwen Pinckney, RN

Administrative Supervisor, who was nominated for Nurse Leader.

“I came to St. John’s as a new graduate and started as staff nurse and moved up from there. I’ve worked at St. John’s for my entire career,” she says. She credits St. John’s with her growth and development and notes that she was trained well. “At St. John’s, there are great precep­tors and educators.” Unsurprisingly, she believes in leading by example.

Currently, Ms. Pinckney is a Meditech team leader for patient care, and is transitioning the paper medical chart to the electronic medical record. “We have suc­cessfully finished the nurses’ daily assessment, history and physical, and hope to have major portions of this project completed by 2012,” she says.

Christine Steiger, RN,

Nominated for Novice Nurse of Distinction.

Previously a dietary technician at St. John’s for 30 years, Ms. Steiger got her associate’s degree and worked as a patient care associate on Tower 5/Psychiatry. When her daughter started high school, she took a computer course through 1199 at Nassau Community College. “It felt good, so I just started doing a course at a time,” she says. “I always wanted to be a nurse, so I took the pre-requisites, and then enrolled in Adelphi. When I graduated, it was a very emotional moment.” This August will mark her second year in nursing.

Ms. Steiger grew up in Far Rockaway and still has family members there. “I feel very loyal to the commu­nity and the Hospital,” she says.

Donna Foy, RN

Nominated for Nurse of Distinction.

In 1990, Ms. Foy’s grandfather was a patient at St. John’s. While she was visiting him, she saw a job posting for a unit receptionist and took the position. Ms. Foy went to school at night, and in 1997 got her associate’s degree. In 2003, she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Downstate.

Ms. Foy met her husband at St. John’s while he was an intern. When her second son, Jacob, was born with a rare birth defect, she went part-time. “There was tremendous support from the Hospital,” she says. Ms. Foy wrote Jacob’s Journey, sharing with other parents how to find support and resources for similar cases.

2010 Nurses of Distinction

Joseph Lopez, RN

Novice Nurse Award Recipient, Downstate New York

Mr. Lopez has been a “shining star” and proven to be an independent and knowledgeable nurse who takes the initiative. St. John’s is his very first job as a registered nurse since graduating from Pace University in Westchester, NY. He is a member of staff of the Pulmonary Care Unit on Tower 8.

St. John’s Vice President of Patient Care, Lynore Dupiton, wrote in her nominating letter that his colleagues and supervisor have “nothing but praise for his consistent and successful pursuit of knowledge and skills. He has frequently been com¬mended for his ability to work collaboratively and pro-vide excellent and appropriate care for patients. He has also received commendations from patients and families in appreciation of his ability to skillfully manage care while remaining aware that families need information, help and support.” In one instance, when many of the more experienced nurses could not report to work, Mr. Lopez took charge, directing care on the unit and encouraging teamwork. Many, including physicians, have been impressed by his abilities, critical thinking and clear and concise understanding of his patients. Mr. Lopez follows in the footsteps of his mother who is also a registered nurse at St. John’s. He is already eyeing a possible master’s degree in anesthesia nursing. He has many interests including tennis, cooking, playing the guitar and singing and entertaining. Mr. Lopez represents all of St. John’s core values of Responsibility, Professionalism, Team¬work, Compassion and Respect.

Claudette Allen, RN

St. John’s Nurse of Distinction

Ms. Allen is an experienced nurse with many years in the field of behavioral health and at the geriatric psychiatry unit at St. John’s. She is St. John’s Nurse of Distinction because she is the “go to” nurse that patients, families, physicians, administrators, and others ask for when coming to the unit.

Ms. Allen performs a thorough assess¬ment of her patients and maintains a working knowledge of each patient’s diagnosis, treatment plan, individual characteristics and mannerisms. She shares this information with other staff members to improve the quality of care for each patient.

Ms. Allen is a native of Guyana who first attended nursing school in London, England. She wanted to experience life in another country, so she came to the United States and earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Pace University. Changing countries and learning the profession of nursing in two different places gave her a broader perspective and a respect for the cultures of others.

Perhaps that is why many families ask for Ms. Allen, even when she is not their family member’s nurse. They know they will receive her time and attention. To her coworkers, she is a mentor and mediator, filling in as an official and unofficial preceptor. She orients newly arrived staff to the unit, including nursing staff, social workers, interns, fellows and others. Ms. Allen says, “It’s not a bed of roses being a psychiatric patient but in most cases, they just need someone to listen. I have a relationship with patients and I remember them if they return as a patient.” She also has earned additional special certification that can expedite the return of patients to nursing homes.

As Ms. Dupiton wrote about Ms. Allen in her nominating letter: “Ms. Allen has a wealth of clinical knowledge and is skillful in managing the needs of her patients. She con¬stantly seeks to upgrade her knowledge through educa¬tional conferences and readily shares what she learns with others. She is a role model for our core values.”

Jeanne Gutierrez, RN

St. John’s Nurse Leader Honoree

Jeanne Gutierrez, RN, serves as a clinical supervisor on St. John’s evening shift. She inspires the newer generations of nurses with her loyalty and 47 years of service at St. John’s, her nurturing approach, and dedication to her profession. How does Ms. Gutierrez characterize her many years at St. John’s? “I never had to compromise on patient care,” she said.

She is a self-described “clam digger,” born and bred in Belle Harbor. Following a desire to become a nurse, she came to St. John’s as a licensed practical nurse and worked her way through nursing school, earning a bachelor of science degree in nursing at Molloy College and then a master’s in public administration at Marist College.

Ms. Gutierrez worked as nurse manager of the medical-surgical unit on Tower 10 before becoming the evening shift nursing supervisor, a job she has held for 13 years. She said, “As a hands-on nurse my focus was patient-centered and helping their families and support systems. As a manager, I act as a point person, a resource for the staff and a nurturer of new nurses. I’m there for everyone.”

Ms. Gutierrez handles any and every emergency, is available to help, mentor and assist staff, as well as to speak with any patient or family member who needs her. She is well-respected by the medical staff, according to Ms. Dupiton, who said, “Jeannie clearly demonstrates all of our core values of Responsibility, Professionalism, Teamwork, Compassion and Respect.”

Natalie Brown, RN

St. John’s Nurse Preceptor Honoree

Natalie Brown, RN, is a staff nurse on the Hospital’s Pulmonary Care Unit on Tower 8. She is St. John’s Nurse Preceptor Honoree because of her excellent teaching skills and ability to introduce new staff nurses easily and quickly. If she has a question, she encourages her novice nurses to learn with her, teaching them that while one may not know everything, everyone has the capacity to find the answers. Her relationships with new staff members don’t stop at the end of the shift but continue throughout their probations, making her a dedicated and committed preceptor. Novice nurses and new staff all comment on how much easier Ms. Brown helps their transition to the Hospital and the unit.

“Ms. Brown started her career at St. John’s as a nursing assistant. It is perhaps this experience that has prompted her to willingly precept not only new nurses, but to also educate and support the role of all clinical staff on her unit,” says Ms. Dupiton. She continues: “Ms. Brown is a true professional in every sense, exemplifying our core values. Ms. Brown has quickly become a favorite choice to precept new staff.”

Other staff members look up to Ms. Brown as someone who worked her way to up the nursing ladder. Because of her example, the numbers of service assistants who have returned to school have increased.

Many patients and their family members have spoken of their confidence in her nursing care. In one case, Ms. Brown persuaded a patient with uncontrolled diabetes to regularly take his medications thereby expediting his discharge home.

2009 Nurses of Distinction

Kim Lonnborg, RN

Nurse of Distinction

Kim has nearly 25 years of experience as an excellent clinician and advocate for her patients. Ms. Lonnbergh is also a member of the Performance Improvement Collaborative, working to improve quality of care delivered on her unit and globally. She has worked on policy changes that have resulted in improved outcomes.

Fay Joshua, BSN, RN

Preceptor of Distinction

Fay has worked at St. John’s since 2000. Ms. Joshua is celebrated for her dedication to bringing new nurses from novice to expert. She is skilled, articulate, supportive and patient. When Ms. Joshua is the preceptor our educators know new nurses are in the hands of one who put patients at the center of care.

Latoya Maragh, RN

Novice Nurse of Distinction

Latoya maintains an upbeat, positive attitude that enables her to manage the most challenging assignments. Her colleagues speak of her growth and ability. Ms. Maragh is inquisitive and seeks to incorporate new skills, techniques and therapies in her nursing practice.

Hermelina Zabala, MA, FNP, APRN

Management Nurse of Distinction

Hermelina creates a climate where teamwork flourishes. She achieved this not by lowering, but by raising the bar for performance. In doing so, Ms. Zabala led by example. She worked all shifts, defined goals, monitored progress and congratulated successes.