Top 20 Nurses of 2020

The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the year of the nurse, and last year, nurses have truly gone above and beyond. We wanted to finish off the year by showing our appreciation and spotlighting the top 20 nurses of 2020. We’re looked for LPNs, RNs, Nursing Aides (CNA, HHA), and Nurse Practitioners.

The top 20 selected received a $250 Amazon gift card. All nominations are in, and we have our winners!

Mary Agnes Ortiz, Director of Nursing Services, Odelia Healthcare

“ This pandemic has created multiple challenges, regulatory, clinically, psychologically and spiritually. She has approached all the challenges with a positive attitude and gone above and beyond to take care of our staff and residents. I have seen her relentlessly comfort staff and residents during difficult times where Covid claimed the life of both residents and staff. I have seen her privately shed tears and pray for those battling all challenges. She has not given up for any challenge and finds strength and courage to continue to not only lead her team to be the best they can be but to offer assistance to other facilities and even to the community. Her standards are impeccable. Her last survey was deficiency free, an accomplishment that has not been done in New Mexico in three years. Although she presents a tough exterior, her warmth and caring are apparent in how she retains and mentors her staff. Ms. Ortiz is a humble DON. She does not ask for recognition. This year has been a particular challenge for all medical workers and she has been an example of how to accomplish the toughest of situations.”

Ricky Plante, ADON at Regalcare of Waterbury

“When the facility had its first COVID 19 case, Ricky stepped up to the plate, taking a very important leadership role and was a mentor to so many who were frightened over the virus. He worked tirelessly to ensure that the patients and his teammates were safe and protected. No role or job was beneath Ricky, whether it be room changes, cleaning, C.N.A. work, licensed nursing, education — Ricky was always willing to step up and go above and beyond. When we heard of this award being made, we made it public for staff to nominate who they thought should receive such an award. The majority of the nominations were for Ricky. Throughout the Pandemic, Ricky made an everlasting impression on all that worked with him. He is truly a hero of Regalcare at Waterbury. Ricky has been seen by all of his co-workers as going above and beyond during COVID and after. When we read about this award being given, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to highlight him for his desire and dedication.”

Brittany York, LPN, Paris Health and Rehab

“Brittany has been here since she was a CNA. She has been an LPN for 5 years. Every family member that calls about their loved one on North hall asks for Brittany — not only because she is always working, but they know that she is 100% involved with their care and knows what is going on with each of them at any given time. She puts in countless hours. Every birthday in her hall, you will come into doors adorned with cards, posters and well wishes. She makes every one of her Residents an honorary member of her family. She loves them each like they are her own grandma or grandpa! She truly lives out our mission everyday by putting Residents first! When COVID entered our facility, she volunteered without question to work the unit.”

Amy Lammers, Registered Nurse, Bay Park Hospital

“Amy has been an ICU nurse for over 25 years and her commitment to helping those in need has never wavered, especially during these most unprecedented times. During the peak of the pandemic her facility was exclusively only treating those people infected with COVID-19, she was dedicated to ensuring that every individual had the very best chance to recover. Amy is married to a firefighter who is also working the front line and they have two teenage boys. Although she always puts them first, she also sees that her role in defeating this virus is crucial to the safety of her family, friends and everyone in the world. With the arrival of the second wave I can tell that Amy is struggling physically, mentally and emotionally. I feel that an acknowledgement of her continued efforts will help solidify the reasons to keep fighting. Many nurses are working tirelessly day in and day out, Amy is one of those individuals.”

Dawn Barone, Director of Nursing, Villa Springfield

“Dawn is willing to come in, any time of day or night, to be there for staff, to sit with dying residents, to hug family members that need it. Her facility went nearly 7 months before their first COVID case. Once COVID happened, Dawn was in the building, on average, 20 hours a day — to support her staff and residents. She managed the outbreak like a trooper and, in less than 30 days, has completely stopped the outbreak. I am honored to work with someone of her devotion and caliber. Dawn consistently gives all of herself — and asks nothing in return. In my 29 years in nursing, she is without a shadow of doubt the highest caliber nurse I have been honored to work alongside on behalf of residents and staff. Dawn consistently gives all of herself – and asks nothing in return. In my 29 years in nursing, she is without a shadow of doubt – the highest caliber nurse I have been honored to work alongside on behalf of residents and staff.

Linda “Darlene” Hayes, CNA, Allegiant Healthcare Springdale Village

“Darlene is an excellent CNA. She has spent 34 years making patients’ stays at her rehabilitation facility better. Her patients regularly express how caring she is, that she is very attentive and answers their call light quickly. She is always willing to help her co-workers. She will have patients ready for their therapy sessions and encourages them to participate. She also has been known to do things for residents during her own personal time, such as go shopping for them. Darlene cares about her patients and residents and expresses this with kindness and hard work. Darlene has consistently shown how much she cares over the years and through trying times. She will be retiring next year and deserves recognition for her many years of hard work.

Jean Sincerbox, National Director of Infection Control, CareRite Centers, LLC

“Jean has led our clinical team with the highest standards of professionalism and grace throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She has provided our entire national organization with education and guidance that has aided in the provision of the highest standards of care for over 10,000 patients and counting. She oversees our education and infection control program and has educated every employee in our company on policies and procedures as the guidance continues to change throughout the pandemic. She has interpreted local, state, and federal guidance to advise employees across four different states, and has allowed our employees the opportunity to provide the best care possible because of her ability to structurally educate to the highest level. Her unwavering determination is beyond admirable. Jean has become the “rock” of so many professionals and has efficiently and effectively navigated a historic pandemic that has focused on our industry specifically, the long-term care field.”

Kim Everett, Assistant Director of Nursing, Belvidere Healthcare Center

Kim has been the subacute unit manager for many years. She has been your friend and your nagging manager but it comes with the job. She has had many laughs and just as many cries. She has shown up for work before her coworkers and left many nights after them. Whatever it takes to get the job done! This past April, Kim was caring for covid patients on her floor and contracted the virus. At one point she explained she felt like she was going to die. After recouping she returned back to work and back on the covid positive unit. It never seemed to bother her. We lost about 20% of our staff that month whether they were sick, scared, or caring for kids but Kim continued like nothing happened. She could have 18 hours of work to do in a 8 hour shift and she’ll not only find the time to help the nurses on the floor but also stay late after everyone else has already left to do the work that she pushed aside. Dressed in full PPE in he hot summer months, Kim took on a promotion as Assistant Director of nursing and then we found ourselves without a director. Kim took on both roles. She continues to be your friend, be stern when she needs to and keep the residents best interest in mind. Kim is a true COVID-19 survivor and a healthcare hero not to mention an A+ nurse!”

Sharon Seaton, Director of Nursing, Atrium Rehab Center

“During our darkest days with COVID-19 she was working hands-on, treating residents, caring for her staff, and holding the entire nursing home together. Ms. Seaton has proven experience to lead and oversee the nursing service. She nurtures and mentors her staff in an unselfish manner. I am mostly impressed how she used her organizational skills and in-depth knowledge in creating a system and leading the team in achieving zero COVID-19 cases after experiencing a surge in the facility. Sharon is a DON who is constantly hands on with our patients. She personally visits the patient in our facility every morning to make sure they are ok. She is a leader like no other. During the height of COVID, Sharon worked 7 days a week, only stopping to catch a bit of sleep. As a true leader, she did not just dictate orders from the safety of her office. She came to work in scrubs and personally gave out medications, took temperatures, and provided cooling measures-all the while helping her residents and her team fight the deadly disease. Till this day, she has only cut one day from her work week-now working a consistent 6 day work week-all to ensure her residents are safe. She is a nurse like no other.

Holly Phail, RN, St Mary Hospital Livonia

“My parents were shopping at our local Meijer. My dad had a sudden heart attack at check out. Holly was shopping who happened to be a nurse and heard my mom screaming when she saw my dad collapsed and died. Holly took action and did cpr and defribulated him and brought him back to us. After two weeks of being at the hospital we found out while he was there that Holly is a nurse in labor and delivery at the hospital. Since then she has become a big part of my family and will be forever our hero and angel.”

Heather Wolak, Director of Nursing, New Grove Manor

“Heather led her facility through a COVID-19 outbreak early on in March, when guidance was literally changing daily and resources for testing and treatment were meager to say the least. She never lost sight of the ultimate goal — to care for patients at their most vulnerable. After her own facility’s outbreak concluded and life began to normalize (sort of) again, a sister facility 4 hours away experienced a new outbreak. Heather voluntarily picked up and went to help. She stayed for a week, assisting with everything from nursing care to housekeeping to room moves to infection control guidance. True compassion and a willingness to step in and step up in times of crisis. Heather’s true nursing colors came out during the COVID-19 crisis. Heather represents the best of the nursing profession, and we are proud to call her our own.”

Sandra Quinn, MDS Coordinator, Azria Health Prairie Ridge

“Sandy is the most kind and caring individual to all of our residents. Sandy takes her time with each resident even though she has many other duties, she never lets the resident feel like she needs to rush or she doesn’t have time for them. It has become incredibly apparent through the Pandemic how amazing she is! In this time of COVID, residents have to remain in their rooms for meals. Sandy stays after her shift is over to assist with passing meal trays to the resident’s room each evening. I have been in this business for 40 years and I can say hands down Sandy is the most caring Nurse I have worked with.”

Sara Kleinschmidt, Director of Operations, Full Circle Senior Living

“Sara travels from location to location teaching, training and advising all these nurse professionals so that they may lead with the same effectiveness at their facility. During these difficult times, Sara has maintained an exhaustive schedule traveling to these facilities on a daily basis while managing all of the challenges presented by the pandemic. She is in constant contact with the state department of health to ensure that we’re taking all of the necessary precautions. She worked diligently on a strategic phased reopening plan to allow essential caretakers and family to begin visiting their loved ones. She has consistently made sure that our PPE reserves and infection control policies do not let up and maintain the same high levels to ensure we minimize all risks presented by the pandemic. While doing all of this, Sara never breaks spirit and continues to work closely and effectively with her RNs, LPN, PCAs, CNAs, residents, resident families, the corporate team, ownership, state regulators, etc.”

Shernette Wynter, CNA, Vi at Lakeside Village

“During Covid Shernette was a front line worker. She would gown up in her PPE and get her residents dressed up in their PPE and ensure each resident received sunlight and got a chance to get fresh air. Our workload has tripled during the pandemic and employees like Shernette help to lighten the emotional stress on residents and coworkers. Shernette does not wait for you to ask her for assistance, she just jumps right in no matter the task and helps out. She anticipates her residents needs to ensure the best care is provided with integrity, compassion, excellence, and respect.”

Ashley Powers, RN/DON, Hardinsburg Nursing

“Day in and day out she has worked and monitored the county and state to ensure guidelines and policies are followed. Because of her hard work our facility has continued to be safe from covid and our residents have been safe and free of covid, not many long term care building can say that! Ashley has made great accomplishments during her nursing career. Starting as an aide, then an LPN, an assistant director of nursing, infection preventionist, wound care certified, now an RN and a DON. She is the reason I have been able to be successful in my career. I owe her all the thanks and appreciation for my position and accomplishments, I truly follow in her footsteps.”

Jean Wany, ANP- Optimum Primary Care, RN Supervisor, Townhouse Extended Care, Adjunct Nursing Professor-Adelphi University

“His deliberate choice to act quickly and his concern to serve others in need, knowing there is a personal cost and risk to him and his health is what I consider to be heroic. Mr. Wany circulates the life force of compassion, altruism, strength, and the determination to never give up on his passion to serve others especially during these difficult circumstances. He faced hardships in acquiring the necessary PPE to maintain the infection control guidance required for healthcare professionals, on returning to work. However, with perseverance and advocacy to do what’s right, he was able secure PPE to maintain safety for himself and his patients.”

Leeann Coughlin, Director of Nursing, Sixteen Acres Healthcare Center

“Leeann Comes to work 7 days a week, every week, to support and educate her staff and residents and has a very high expectation of her team. Because of her high work ethic and relentless commitment, our facility has been awarded 5 out of 5 Stars from CMS. Leeann has never worked for awards or recognition. Her motivation is to do good things and have a positive effect on others. Leann has never worked for awards or recognition. Her motivation is to do good things and have a positive effect on others. She is a true unsung hero.”

Rashanna Snorden, LPN Nurse Supervisor, SKLD Livonia

“What impresses me most about Rashanna is that she consistently and compassionately puts her residents first, making their needs her biggest priority. When she learned one of her more difficult residents refused to eat unless she had tomato soup; Rashanna took it upon herself to run out and purchase tomato soup and prepared it for her. Rashanna is always pleasant and dedicated to her passion of caring for others! SKLD Livonia has chosen to celebrate the achievements of Rashanna Snorden because through the current pandemic she has continued to be the shining star that she is by positively and contagiously supporting the staff and residents that she serves.”

Charles Phillips, LPN, Hidden Lake Nursing

“During this pandemic, he has done over 200 covid tests (twice a week) with little thought to himself or his family. He knows that the job has to be done, where others refuse or think it is a mundane job, to keep others safe. He has mastered the tasks, making the jobs his own, ensuring everyone is getting tested properly. Some people would have complained about being stuck with these tasks, but the residents/staff safety is in his hands. We are so lucky to have him.”

Shana Cohen-Finkelstein, RN Director of Patient Services at Caring Home Care

“Though I am Shana’s husband and not in the office with her during the day, I can hear snippets of her calls in the evening and I can attest to her dedication and care she shows to all families. She cares for all her patients and is always available. Recently, there was an accident in front of the office. Shana ran down immediately and without thought of Covid started CPR. Shana recently celebrated her 40th year as an RN.”

The Judges

Pritma Dhillon Chattha, DNP MHA RN

Vice President, Healthcare Innovation at Apploi

Stephen Ferrara, DNP, NP

Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at Columbia University & Executive Director at The Nurse Practitioner Association NYS

Brighid Gannon, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Co-Founder of Lavender & Founder of Ivy Psychiatry

Aries Limbaga, DNP, MBA, RN

CEO-Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center

Angela DiDonato, DNP, CRNA

Associate Program Director, Nurse Anesthesia Program, University of Pennsylvania

Gabe Rizzi

Chief Revenue Officer, Viventium

Baruch Klahr, EMT

President, GEM Enrollments

Faygee Morgenshtern

CEO, People Powered Nursing

Nathan Hertzel

VP Operations, Nava Healthcare

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