UHealth Nurses Honored for Their Life-Changing Care

“Next year, we need to get a bigger room!”

That was the first thing Edward Abraham, M.D., said as he stepped to the podium to deliver his remarks at the National Nurses Week Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on May 9. In response, the crowd packed into the Seminar Center at UHealth Tower, including nearly 50 standing along the room’s outer walls, erupted in laughter and applause.

If anyone minded standing, however, they didn’t let it show, because the recognition event — the first of its kind since the single licensure initiative brought the health system’s three hospitals together — was an impressive demonstration that UHealth nursing caregivers are now all on the same team.
Abraham, executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine, recalled his own clinical experience, noting that intensive care unit patients typically say a nurse made the biggest difference in their care.

“It all comes down to people,” he said.

The energetic early-morning event featured a mix of dance music, inspirational remarks, emotional videos and cheer-generating awards — some of which were given for professional performance in nursing, others for individuals’ support of UHealth’s nursing mission.

The series of opening remarks began with Elizabeth L. Smith, D.N.P., RN, interim chief nurse executive for University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, describing how nurses make the difference in the patient experience through their dual focus on quality of care and patient safety, and how nursing is now “sitting at the table” with other health care leadership.

Michael Gittelman, CEO of University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, said nurses are the “bedrock and cornerstone of the care we provide.”

Cindy L. Munro, Ph.D., RN, dean and professor at the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, noted that nursing has topped all other professions in the Gallup poll for honesty and ethical standards for 16 years. She also expressed the need for more degrees and more advanced degrees in the field of nursing, based on the report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” published by the Institute of Medicine and chaired by former UM President Donna E. Shalala, Ph.D., who is currently Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy.

Which was the perfect lead-in for Shalala herself, who told the audience she believes the profession is in “the Golden Age of Nursing,” and that nurses will be at the center of coming change in health care. And, she confessed to the delight of her audience, “If I had it all to do over, I would be a nurse.”

Smith singled out individuals in the health system who have consistently lent strong support to the work of UHealth nurses. She called each of them to the dais, presented them with a certificate and conferred on them the title of “Honorary Nurse.” Those individuals were:

• Kymberlee J. Manni, Ph.D., chief operating officer, UHealth Tower
• Shyroll A. Morris, chief satellite operations officer
• Cristian Murray, vice chair of administration for community health delivery
• Carlos M. Aja, executive director of hospital operations and UHealth respiratory services
• Alan Gomez, executive director of finance
• Maribel Felix, director of human resources – client services
• Vicmarie Gonzalez, dietary department
• Joseph Vota, hospital safety officer
• Maria Henao, director of social services
• Inesse Dede, environmental services technician

Also thanked were the nurse recruiters who help attract the best nursing talent to UHealth:

• Janetty Aponte
• Connie Bailey
• Katiana Calixte
• Pooja Chawla
• Eduardo Dumenigo
• Jose Guttierrez
• Andrea Krause
• Adrianne Maria Lara
• Elaine Lopez-Nobrega
• Steven Rinker
• Alina Sanchez-Garcia

The best was saved for last, when winners of the nursing awards, who had been nominated by co-workers at their UHealth unit, were announced. In the final three of the six categories — Advanced Practitioner, Transformational Leader and RN — an overall winner for the entire UHealth system was selected from among the finalists. The winners in each category were:

1. Nursing Assistant

• Anita Carter, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (ABLEC), 6th floor ambulatory surgery
• Emilia Lazo, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, CTU Kendall
• Emma Larose, UHealth Tower, 11 north

2. LPN

• Mindy Pabon, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, hematology/oncology clinic
• Nancie Monestine, UHealth Tower, 11 north

3. Preceptor

• Noreen Smith, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (ABLEC), Emergency Department
• Sylvia Zayas, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Plantation satellite breast clinic
• Catherine Collier, UHealth Tower, 11 north

4. Advanced Practitioner

• Snezana Radnovic, ARNP, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, anesthesia
• Marcia Santana, ARNP, UHealth Tower, Team D hospitalist
• Lawren Mundy, Ph.D., ARNP, University of Miami Medical Group, OB/GYN
• Overall winner: Karen Henry, ARNP, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kendall/Lennar hematology/oncology — named the UHealth Advanced Practitioner of the Year

5. Transformational Leader

• Cindy Valiente, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, nurse manager, ambulatory surgery
• Maritza Alencar, ARNP, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, advanced practice provider supervisor and co-leader of the Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program Oncology Service Line
• Overall winner: Sindis Rodriguez, UHealth Tower, NICU-CCU manager — named the UHealth Transformational Leader of the Year

6. RN

• Ferdinande DiHaiti, RN, UHealth Tower, 11 north oncology
• Maylin Candina, RN, University of Miami Medical Group, Outpatient Neurology Clinic at PAC, Suite 609
• Elizabeth Rodriguez, RN, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Kendall CTU
• Overall winner: Isabelo Sicsic, Jr., RN, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, inpatient — named the UHealth RN of the Year

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