Dale Griffin, LPN
2005 National Winner (LPN/LVN Category)
Staff Developer
Andalusia Manor, Andalusia, AL

Exceptional “empathy, humanity and love of nursing” have made Dale Griffin, LPN, outstanding in her field – and beloved by her patients and co-workers. And now, more than two decades into her nursing career, she’s receiving national recognition from Cherokee Uniforms – a leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel – for creating and implementing an innovative, in-house mentoring program for certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

Griffin is one of only 14 people nationwide to receive the prestigious Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award in 2005. The award is granted annually by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others’ lives. She is the second Alabama healthcare professional to have won the award in two years.

“The retention of nurses and other healthcare professionals in the workplace impacts patient care, staff satisfaction and an employer’s bottom line,” said Wendell Mobley, who directs the national award for Cherokee. “Dale had a vision and plan to do something about it in her workplace, which has benefited the entire organization.”

As a National Winner in the award’s LPN/LVN category, Griffin receives an all-expense-paid trip to a 2006 U.S. medical conference of her choice, an annual membership to a clinical organization, a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Rockers Footwear worth more than $1,000, a 2005 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy and placement in Cherokee’s 2006 Inspired Comfort Award calendar.

Griffin overcame great hardships to put herself through nursing school at Reid State Technical College by day, while working a full-time healthcare job in the evening. Each night, she’d only be able to spend an hour with her three children until she tucked them into bed before spreading her nursing books across the kitchen table for a sleepless night of studying. Her sacrifice paid off when she graduated first in her class. For nearly 10 years, she has worked at Andalusia Manor, a locally owned, 112-bed skilled nursing facility in Andalusia, Alabama, that cares for Medicare and Medicaid patients. “Every day I have the opportunity to come into 112 ‘homes’ and be part of their lives,” Griffin said. “They have such wonderful stories to tell.”

The United States suffers from a severe nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as the population ages. “I recommend the nursing field to the younger generation because it is a profession that is always new and challenging,” said Griffin. “We need innovators and compassionate leaders to inspire the next generation of caregivers. Believing that you can make a difference in a person’s life and perhaps helping future caregivers realize their dreams is my definition of being successful.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nursing is expected to remain the top-growing occupation through 2012.

As a staff developer at Andalusia Manor, Griffin is doing her part to curb the nursing shortage. She created a successful mentor program that links the facility’s CNAs with their licensed practical nurse colleagues, who provide hands-on training and “sounding board” support. It has encouraged CNAs to develop leadership skills and consider careers in nursing.

Griffin was inspired by Oprah Winfrey, who touts the importance of mentors on her show. “I always had ‘rocks’ in my life – people I could depend on during difficult times. I promised those people who were there for me that someday I would mentor others. Now I have that opportunity,” Griffin said. When she came across an article about other facilities in the north that had started mentoring programs for their healthcare workers, she was inspired to begin a similar program at Andalusia Manor. Following research and discussions with colleagues, she presented the idea to the administrators and owners, who overwhelmingly embraced the program. Since its inception in 2004, the program has improved staff retention by 50 percent. It is believed to be the first of its kind in Alabama.

“The CNAs walk out of her classes with purpose, self-esteem and eagerness,” commented Debra Weaver, human resources director at Andalusia Manor, who nominated Griffin for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. “Dale is the most remarkable person I have ever known. She gives so much of herself to this facility and its employees. She works long hours and never asks anything for herself.”

Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 3,400 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of nursing professionals and Cherokee representatives evaluates nominations and chooses winners.

For every nomination in 2005, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to Nurses House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing serious hardship. Cherokee donated $1,300 to Nurses House in 2005.

Nominated by: Debra Weaver (Human Resources director, Analusia Manor, Andalusia, AL)
Dale Griffin is the most remarkable person I have ever known. There seems to be no limit to her empathy, humanity, and love of nursing. Dale Griffin is the staff developer for our Skilled Nursing Facility in Andalusia, Alabama. This facility has such dedicated nurses because Dale infuses knowledge, compassion and a sense of accomplishment to each student. They walk out of her classes with purpose, self-esteem and eagerness to start their career.
Dale overcame a hard upbringing to dedicate her life to helping others. She put herself through nursing school by working as a certified Nursing Assistant at night and attending school during the day. You have to want something very badly to overcome these obstacles.
Last year Dale started a Mentor program for the CNAs, and it has been a great success. It's a job between the CNAs and the LPNS. The mentors do all the hands-on training and the sounding board for all the CNAs. Our turnover has been cut in half and the training is consistent. Every one in this building goes to Dale for help and guidance. Our residents love her as much as the employees do.
I would like Dale to win this award because she gives so much of herself to this facility and its employees. She works long hours and never asks anything for herself. Please consider her for this award.
Andalusia Alabama Nurse Wins National Award!