Just visit the winners’ award pages (by clicking on their photos at left), read through their inspirational stories and nominations, and then leave your comments and kudos! (For interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits on the award and its winners, follow “InspiredComfort” on Twitter – and “Like” us on Facebook.)
The recipients represent a variety of healthcare professionals, from bedside nurses and paramedics to nursing professors and program coordinators for the nation’s homeless. While each winner has a distinguishable story about caring for others, all of them respond to a similar calling: to go above and beyond their duties to make a difference for their patients and the communities they serve.
“These healthcare professionals are heroes to their patients, co-workers and communities,” says Michael Singer, chief executive officer of Cherokee Uniforms. “They represent the very best in healthcare, and we hope that these incredible stories will motivate other compassionate and smart people to enter the healthcare professions to provide the highest possible quality of care to those in need.”
A panel of Cherokee representatives and past Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recipients selected the honorees from a pool of more than 800. The candidates were nominated for their exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and were chosen from the following categories: Advanced Practice Nurse, Registered Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional.
This year’s Grand Prize, Top National and National Winners are:
Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs)
Grand Prize Winner – Lisa Quinones, ANP, RNC, MS, OGNP, ICCE – Suffolk County Community College, Selden, NY
Quinones, a professor of nursing at Suffolk County Community College, devotes her vacations to crossing borders and traveling the world to help others. As a volunteer brigade member for the nonprofit Hope for a Healthier Humanity (HHH), she shares her expertise as a nurse practitioner on medical missions to areas of Honduras, Panama and the Dominican Republic that require special and sustained efforts just to maintain life. She has interwoven her work with HHH into the lives of her students and colleagues back home as evidenced by the 165 “birthing kits” they funded and created. Quinones delivered the kits on a return trip to Honduras – one of six medical missions she helped lead in 2010.
Top National Winner – Jennifer Huson, MSN, RN, CPNP, CNF – Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
In addition to her job in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Huson has donated thousands of hours over the past 11 years to Dream Street Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving the lives of children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. As the volunteer nursing director, she works year-round organizing the logistics for two different summer camps that host children and young adults diagnosed with cancer, blood disorders and other long-term illnesses. While the normal sleep-away camps are unable to meet these children’s daily medical needs, Huson makes sure that Dream Street can provide the complex medical services to each child attending the camp.
Registered Nurses (RNs)
Grand Prize Winner – Carolyn Green, MA, BSN, RN, LRC(s) – Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Shreveport, LA
Green demonstrates an unyielding commitment to excellence on behalf of this nation’s homeless Veterans. In establishing strong partnerships with community organizations and nonprofits, she allows the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program at Overton Brooks Veterans Affairs Medical Center to care for the clinical and psychological needs of homeless veterans more effectively – and with potentially better outcomes – by ensuring that their other basic needs are met. For the past seven years, she has worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the local “Operation Stand Down,” for which Green arranges for volunteers and donations of clothing, food, medical care and haircuts as well as social and counseling services for the homeless. In 2010, the event served 1,000 homeless individuals, aided by Green’s ability to marshal resources and garner community support.
Top National Winner – Cindy Stokes, RN, BSN – Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
Upon learning the sad news that a young Charleston teenager’s chemotherapy treatments were not succeeding, Stokes took on the painstaking and compassionate role in making the final days of his life as meaningful and pain-free as possible. Her willingness to go beyond her day-to-day responsibilities to elevate her patient and his family above his diagnosis made her more than his nurse – it made her his friend. From advocating for this family to receive a better flight for a final vacation together to visiting his home while he was on hospice, Stokes showed this young man and his family unwavering support in a time of great need. Stokes is the second Medical University of South Carolina healthcare professional to receive an Inspired Comfort Award.
National Winner – Jessica Estep, RN – Anaheim Regional Medical Center, Anaheim, CA
Despite the vital role nurses play in patient care, their voices are sometimes overlooked in key administrative decisions within hospitals. When Estep discovered that Anaheim Regional Medical Center wanted to change this, she was one of the first nurses to take on additional responsibilities to help accelerate a program which would advance the nursing profession. Despite being in her first year as a nurse, Estep saw an opportunity to elevate the role of staff nurses at her hospital and took a lead position in motivating others to join her in helping to bring meaningful change. A champion of nursing practice excellence, her efforts have elevated nursing leadership, performance and influence throughout the facility.
National Winner – Shakira Henderson, -MS, MPH, BSN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC – South Miami Hospital, Miami, FL
Working as a nurse in South Miami Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, Henderson realized that few mothers breastfed their fragile newborns. Although breastfeeding can be a frightening prospect for parents with tiny infants, Henderson armed herself with science and data indicating that mother’s milk is critical brain food for babies and guards them against illness and disease. With this information, she introduced a breastfeeding initiative that has produced dramatic results for the hospital’s smallest patients and their mothers. Henderson advocated for her unit and the hospital to make breastfeeding a priority to be supported by evidence-based practice and training. Since Henderson and a group of her staff members became nurse-counselors to help mothers breastfeed and pump their own milk, up to 90% of mothers with babies on the unit now pump milk.
Non-Physician Healthcare Professionals
Grand Prize Winner – Shannon Davidson, NREMT-P – Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Mobile, AL
After working an exhausting 12-hour shift as an emergency room paramedic for Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Davidson leaves her job and provides front-line medical care for residents of her rural community as a volunteer with the McIntosh Rescue Squad and McIntosh Volunteer Fire Department. Despite having her full-time job and caring for a family, Davidson has volunteered her medical services to the rescue squad for 20 years and for 11 years to the fire department. In 2010 alone, she contributed more than 1900 hours to the two services.
Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, almost 9,900 healthcare professionals have been nominated across the various nursing and non-physician disciplines. A panel of Cherokee representatives and past Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recipients evaluates nominations and grants the awards.
For every nomination, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1.00 to Nurse’s House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing serious hardship. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2012 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1 through May 31, 2012.