The Critical Alert Blog

Celebrating Nurses Month: Nurses at the Heart of Healthcare Winners

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our Nurses at the Heart of Healthcare contest! This year, we teamed up with Critical Alert to honor Mary Eliza Mahoney, a trailblazer in nursing who helped make the profession more diverse. During May, we asked nursing leaders to nominate a colleague who embodies these qualities, and we received stories from all over the country about nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty. 

As we read through the nominations, certain themes emerged – selflessness, compassion, and dedication. Time and again, we were struck by the empathy of the nurses who were nominated. They truly are the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. In a year that has been so difficult for so many, it was inspiring to read about the nurses who have gone above and beyond to care for their patients and help their communities. We are proud to highlight their stories and honored to be able to shine a light on the vital role that nurses play in our society. 

This year’s grand prize winner is Jodie McClure, a staff nurse at Mount Nittany Health in State College, Pa. Jodie has been a nurse for 10 years and is passionate about making a difference in her patients’ lives. She was nominated by her manager, Jenn Bainey. 

Patients who come into the hospital in a mental health emergency are some of the most vulnerable. They often arrive feeling scared, alone, and hopeless. That’s why nurses like Jodie are so important.  

Jenn shared a heartwarming story about Jodie assisting a patient experiencing a mental health emergency. Jenn said that Jodie was committed to helping this patient and their family by connecting them with the proper resources and following up with the patient’s behavioral health doctor, local police, and the county crisis line. Jenn added that Jodie was able to get the patient admitted to the hospital to get the help they desperately needed. This touching story is just one example of Jodie’s dedication to her patients and their families. Thanks to nurses like Jodie, patients receive the highest quality of care possible.  

Every day, nurses across the country touch lives in ways big and small. They are the first to comfort a scared child, the last to offer words of encouragement to a grieving family, and the constant source of strength for patients fighting for their lives. While we could only select one grand prize winner, we were truly moved by the selflessness and dedication of all the nominated nurses. These stories are a reminder of the vital role that nurses play in our society, and we are so grateful to these nurses for their compassion, patience, and dedication. So, this year, we selected five honorable mentions and want to share their stories. 

This year’s honorable mentions are Mecia Castagna, a staff nurse at Pike County Memorial Hospital, Judy Perez, a staff nurse at Meadow Park Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, Jennifer Cummings, a staff nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Lai Ching (Esther) Chan, pediatric head nurse at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, and Rebecca Swisher, a registered nurse case manager and clinical coordinator at John C. Fremont Healthcare District. 

Mecia Castagna was nominated by Rachel Henderson, med-surg director at Pike County Memorial Hospital, who praised Mecia for her willingness to go above and beyond to care for patients. Rachel said that Mecia recently “visited a patient in a nursing home after discharge to make sure she was comfortable and had everything she needed. She even came in on her day off to provide extra special care to one of our swing bed patients in his recovery process.” Mecia’s commitment to her patients is commendable, and it is clear that she cares deeply about providing quality care. 

Judy Perez was nominated by Madeleine Frias, director of recreation and staffing coordinator at Meadow Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. Madeline said Judy “is a wonderful nurse; she has been with our facility for over 10 years.” Judy started her career as an LPN, studied, and received her RN while working at Meadow Park. During Covid-19, “she was at the frontlines; it’s hard to have the dedication to mentor our staff and care for our residents,” said Frias, adding that Judy “provides a caring approach to applying the best solutions to our residents’ well-being. Judy has also helped boost staff morale through it all; she is an amazing RN, and it is a great honor to have her as a friend.” 

Jennifer Cummings has been a nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital for more than 15 years, and in that time, she has made a real impact on the community. Hella Ewing, VP of patient care services and CNO, said that Jennifer is always one of the first people to step up and say, “how can I help?” inside and outside the hospital walls. During the pandemic, she cross trained to assist in the adult facilities and the emergency department. Hella added that Jennifer “has a heart of gold and enjoys making others happy and feeling loved.” 

Lai Ching (Esther) Chan was nominated by Loretta Au, who said: “Esther has been our devoted Head Nurse at the Pediatric unit for the past eighteen years. She has been an exemplary role model and teacher for dozens of young nurses that have started their careers at our busy health center. Esther has a most reassuring approach that will calm the most anxious patients and perhaps their even MORE anxious parents. She is all about quality care and listening to the patient’s perspective. She is the backbone of our unit, often not taking credit for smooth operations as she is humble and never complaining.” 

Rebecca Swisher, a registered nurse case manager and clinical coordinator at John C. Fremont Healthcare District in Mariposa, CA, was nominated for the contest by Glody Waters, director of home health and hospice at John C. Fremont. Glody shared the significant impact Rebecca has had on the home health and hospice department in her capacity as clinical manager. Glody said Rebecca “jumped into the role headfirst. She clearly utilizes her knowledge of other healthcare provider systems to help advocate for patients. When there was a COVID-19 outbreak in another department in our hospital, she volunteered to provide nursing care to residential patients without fear, complaint, or being asked to do so.”  

These are six of the many heartwarming stories we received. We are so grateful to the nursing leaders who took the time to write such thoughtful stories to celebrate and uplift their colleagues. The care and compassion these nurses show daily is an inspiration to us all, and we are honored to be able to share their stories. Thank you, nurses, for everything that you do! 

Winners were selected randomly.