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Excellence in Dallas-Fort Worth Nursing Awards: The Finalists

These outstanding health care professionals were also in the running for the honor.
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Katherine Cantrell
Occupational Health

Katherine Cantrell is a registered nurse in employee health at Texas Health Presbyterian Denton. Recently she screened 300 Denton High School students who visited the hospital while exploring the field of nursing. She often demonstrates her caring nature and willingness to aid employees, including helping them fill out benefits information and college enrollment papers, managing leaves of absence, and reviewing worker’s compensation claims. She also revises the medical policies and procedures, as needed. Colleagues describe her as a selfless individual possessing a calming presence and strong communication with others. Clear understanding is her goal, and she seeks to make resources known to employees. She volunteers in many community activities, and sits on numerous committees within her organization. In addition, she is a 2010 recipient of the “Top 10 Nurses” award and the 2011 “Living the Mission” award. Her value within the community is unmistakable to all those around her. “I have the ultimate dream job,” Cantrell says “No nurse should be working in a job for which they aren’t passionate. I am blessed to be able to say I have found my passion in my daily work.”—Sarah Bennett


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Deadra Thomas
Occupational Health

Deadra Thomas is the nurse manager at Baylor Health Care in the Safe Choice Occupational Injury department, where she has served since 2005. That means she and her team take care of Baylor employees when they are hurt or injured on the job. “Nursing is my passion,” Thomas says. “It allows me to expand my box, not just think outside of it.” She has streamlined the workflow and duties for nursing staff using the Lean Concept and brought new technology and programs to the department, opening a larger network to injured employees. She trains staff on state guidelines so that employees may get back to work faster. She is also a veteran of the Navy Nurse Corps. Her efforts help to keep the Baylor team working efficiently.—Sarah Bennett


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Julie Hughes
Oncology

Julie Hughes is an oncology nurse at Texas Oncology, where she has worked since 2005. Colleagues credit her keen judgment and intuition as part of her strength as a nurse. “I get excited talking about oncology nursing; it is a time for me to be a pillar of support for my patient in what can be the most challenging time of their life,” Hughes says. “Oncology is not just my career field; it is a passion I get to fulfill every day. My patients bless me beyond belief.” In addition to her role as an oncology nurse, to hospital staff she is also known for her electronic health records management and troubleshooting. She sets up displays for patients that include information on cancer risk factors. Her sense of what patients need makes her invaluable to the team.—Sarah Bennett


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Sue Sivess-Franks
Oncology

Sue Sivess-Franks is the clinical nurse coordinator at Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Colleagues say she always goes the “extra mile” with patients and their families, providing support during emotional times. One patient with head and neck cancer could not shave or get a haircut because of an open wound, and when he finally was able to shave again, he informed Sivess-Franks that traveling for treatment had limited his resources. She immediately dressed the wound and arranged for an expense-paid trip to the barbershop for the veteran. Sivess-Franks oversees scheduling of all infusion and patient visits for the department, which sees more than 2,500 new consults and administers more than 4,000 infusions annually. She is also a member of the institutional cancer committee, which ensures accreditation as a cancer center with the American College of Surgeons. Sue is a cancer survivor herself and the mother of a veteran who served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.—Sarah Bennett


Allison Vo
Oncology

Allison Vo is the manager of Cancer Program Administration at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. There she leads many teams and has established the patient navigation program, which has grown from one patient-navigator to three. “Being diagnosed with cancer is a scary issue to face, and often times, cancer patients are left with many questions and no one to contact that is readily available,” she says. “Our Nurse Navigation program is designed to support our patients through the entire process.” She also helped to establish the Breast Cancer of Excellence division, which organizes all the specialists and departments involved with breast treatment into one multidisciplinary approach for the patient. The program was even accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. Her organizational powers paired with her compassion for patients make her an asset to the team. Just ask the pancreatic cancer survivor for whom Vo organized a party to celebrate her five-year survival mark and 50th wedding anniversary.—Sarah Bennett


Barbara Baggett
Orthopedics

Barbara Baggett has been an RN in the orthopedic unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas for 11 years. She mentors peers through the certification process, helping the certification rate to climb from 16 percent to 48 percent in 2011. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and is the president of Dallas Orthopedic Nursing Inc., where she helped to roll out the first orthopedic certification review course in North Texas. She instructs new staff in how to run the night shift and seeks out leadership opportunities like Unit Based Council, Nursing Congress, and other committees. Through the Healing Hands Ministry, she provides health care services like immunizations to those in need, and volunteers with March of Dimes and North Texas Food Bank.—Sarah Bennett


Jennifer Tullis
Orthopedics

Jennifer Tullis is the orthopedic coordinator/navigator at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, a role she has filled since 2009. Tullis is with joint replacement patients every step of the way, from pre-operative classes to post-discharge follow up. She even initiated an annual holiday alumni event for patients and physicians of the Joint Academy to socialize, which has been a hit for the past two years. She works with the interdisciplinary team to make sure all practices within the Joint Academy are evidence-based, in an effort to provide the highest quality of care possible. In addition to serving her patients, Tullis organizes and facilitates a number of review courses for nurses in the process of getting certified, which is just a sample of her commitment to the nursing community.—Sarah Bennett


Janice Collins-Heath
Orthopedics

Don’t expect Janice Collins-Heath to be bound by her job description. The day supervisor of orthopedics at Texas Health Harris Methodist in Fort Worth considers no task too trivial to ease the load on her patients and their aggrieved families. Whether it’s shepherding a patient through rehab, or finding a patient’s out-of-town family a place to stay and a bite to eat, or simply lending an ear and a smile to a patient in need of a lighthearted chat, Collins-Heath is always serving her patients. She is essential to the management of her unit, ensuring her team meets rigorous care and surgical standards, keeping her staff ahead of the curve on credentials and training, and offering her leadership and expertise on a range of office matters to make sure the largest possible share of budget dollars are spent where they should be: on treating patients. After 30 years in the game, Collins-Heath shows no signs of stopping.—Farraz Khan


Jo Alch
Home Health

Putting a loved
one into hospice is one of the most difficult processes a family faces,
but Jo Alch’s warm bedside manner and devotion to patients makes the
transition as painless as possible. Her time spent as a hospice nurse
revealed the shortcomings in home health care, and Alch set to work to
make an impact in the industry by founding Acappella In-Home Care. Seven
years later, Alch now serves as director and supervises more than 250
nurses and caregivers. But don’t count on the fancy title to change who
she is. Alch wears many hats and lends a hand whenever her assistance is
needed. Whether it’s visiting with a patient’s family after hours, or
calling an attorney to ensure a patient’s estate is tended to, Alch’s
main priority is the comfort of those in her care. It’s no wonder we
named her our 2012 Best Home Health Nurse. —Caitlin Adams


Jane Otieno
Home Health

It takes a
special person to provide care to a terminally ill child, and that
special person is Jane Otieno. As a home health nurse with Vivicare
Health Partners, Otieno not only becomes part of her patient’s daily
routine, she becomes part of their family. From attending school,
changing diapers, and singing duets, to preparing meals and supervising
bath time, Otieno does it all with a big smile. Her heart—also big—shows
in every aspect of her work, as she always goes above and beyond the
call of duty in fun, meaningful ways for her young patients. Her
background and years of experience providing specialized care for
patients in assisted living settings has kept Otieno vigilant and keen
to detail. One patient’s mother calls her their “MVP” for her dedication
to keeping her patient’s safety and health as her top priority.
—Caitlin Adams


Alison
Collazo

Home Health


The birth of a child is a blessing, but for single, low-income
mothers, it can also be a burden. That’s when Alison Collazo steps in
and teaches new mothers the ropes of motherhood in a genuine, respectful
manner. As nurse supervisor at YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Collazo
leads a team of 12 nurses to provide home health care to those who need
it most. Her time spent in the field has enhanced Collazo’s qualities of
leadership, compassion, and empathy, and she dedicates her time to
making sure that every Dallas County woman in need receives the help she
deserves. Collazo is working to obtain her master’s of nursing
administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, and is
expected to graduate in May of this year. Between lending an ear and
studying for exams, Collazo continues to build partnerships with
programs that assist mothers on their quest to become
self-sufficient.—Caitlin Adams


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