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Community Hospital Staff Celebrates Top Nurses/Caregivers


Community Hospital’s celebration of Nurses Week culminated with a ceremony to recognize the most outstanding nurses and patient caregivers, representing five pillars of excellence, as voted by their co-workers. From the nursing staff, Lisa Conn, Shawnta Leeks, Kathy Liss, Jenn Pykosz and Cheryl Risch were among the nominees chosen by their peers at the hospital for going above and beyond in their respective patient care areas. Caregivers who were selected include Arlene Anderson, Dawn McHugh, Holly Opat, Caitlyn Zimmerman and Kandice Harris.

To meet the criteria for the Pillars of Excellence awards, the staff member must demonstrate excellence in the areas of Service, People, Growth, Quality and Finance (stewardship). These standards and values set the foundation for the hospital’s mission to bring quality care to everyone in need.

“Our nurses and caregivers place the care of our patients first and foremost before anything else we do,” said CEO Lou Molina. “We are proud to have such a dedicated group of outstanding nurses and caregivers making a difference in the lives of our patients.”

Service Pillar Award
Caregiver Dawn McHugh (Hammond) from Oncology and Nurse Lisa Conn (St. John) from 4 North were chosen for the Service Pillar Award. McHugh, a certified nurse assistant, has worked at the hospital for 27 years. She was selected because “she gives from her heart daily and it shows in the care that she provides every patient.” Conn has worked at Community Hospital for 16 years and according to her co-workers, she is a great preceptor to new nurses. Nominations state, “she is patient, available and holds them accountable to follow policies, standards and procedures.”

People Pillar Award
Nurse assistant Holly Opat (Lowell) from the Rehabilitation unit and Case Management’s Shawnta Leeks (Michigan City) received the Pillar Award for People. Opat has worked at Community Hospital for less than one year, but has made an impact on patient care already working very hard. “Her caring spirit and gentle personality sees many patients through some very dark hours.” Leeks came to Community Hospital in 2015 because she heard about the exceptional care provided to patients. She travels more than an hour each way every day to make a difference in the lives of patients. She strives to educate and empower them to make informed decisions about their care.

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Growth Pillar Award
For Growth, Kandice Harris (East Chicago), an advanced nursing assistant on 2 Parkview Tower and Kathy Liss (Chesterton) from the Mother/Baby unit each earned Pillar Awards. Harris, who has worked at Community Hospital for four years “brings a can-do attitude and fresh new ideas to every shift.” Liss, a 41-1/2 year veteran, is known as the driving force behind the phenomenal development and growth in the ‘Exclusive Breastfeeding’ core measure success. “Countless new mothers and their newborns have experienced loving support, invaluable education and a sense of self-worth, thanks to their interactions with her.”

Finance Pillar Award
Nurse assistant Arlene Anderson (Merrillville) from the Neuro ICU and Jenn Pykosz (Munster), a nurse from the Neonatal ICU, were chosen for the Pillar Awards for Finance. Pykosz works hard in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit to maintain a constant connection between parents and their infants. She “takes frequent pictures and creates memory displays for parents and family to be a part of precious moments and earliest parts of life.” Anderson has worked with Community Hospital for 25 years and is a phenomenal caregiver who treats patients “with extreme dignity and empathy. She is consistently rounding to ensure her patients’ safety remains top priority.”

Quality Pillar Award
Quality Pillar Awards were presented to nurse assistant Caitlyn Zimmerman (St. John), IMCU West, and Cheryl Risch (Schererville), nurse in the Endoscopy unit. Zimmerman is described as “hardworking and comes to work with a positive attitude.” Risch has been at Community Hospital for 12 years. Co-workers say “she continually looks for opportunities to increase her knowledge and looks for opportunities to improve outcomes in the department.”

“I am proud of all the nurses, certified nursing assistants, patient care technicians and nurse externs who are committed to excellence at Community Hospital,” said Chief Nursing Officer Ronda McKay, DNP, RN, CNS. “Each and every one of them are wonderful examples of an entire staff that provides compassionate care to our patients, day in and day out.”

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