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Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Issue 8 

Nurse of the Year 2011

Children’s Hospital nurses contribute to their profession through providing excellent patient care and supporting their professional practice. Nurses who exemplify excellence in nursing were nominated by their peers and colleagues for their contributions to the practice of nursing. Join us in acknowledging the excellence in the following nominees:

Nurse of the Year Nominees

Jocelyn Alsdorf

Carole Cooper

Carol Falk

Debbie Hernandez

Susan Herrera

Evelyn Denise Johnson

Cara Lea

Jo A. Lyons

Veronica Mariscal

Holdina Martirosian

Denise McEowen

Kathleen McKinney

Erica Nelson

Lee Pelayo

Andree Soares

Susan Willoughby

The accomplishments of these individuals were many and exceptional. One nurse was selected in the categories of Clinical Practice, Education, and Administration/Leadership. It is our honor to recognize the following individuals in 2011:


Nurse of the Year 2011 – Clinical Practice

Susan Willoughby, RN, CHPN


Nurse of the Year 2011 – Administration/Leadership

Carole Cooper, MHA, BSN, RN, CPN


Nurse of the Year 2011 – Education

Jo A. Lyons, MOB, BS, RN-BC


Nurse of the Year- Clinical Practice 2011

Susan Willoughby, RN, CHPN

Coordinator Palliative Care Program 

Susan’s effectiveness as the palliative care program coordinator since 2006 has been limitless. She demonstrates immense caring and skillful knowledge as she cares so compassionately for our patients and families at Children’s Hospital. 

With more than 12 years of experience in Hospice, Susan also brings personal experiences with loved ones at end-of-life, professional and academic preparedness, and civic involvement. She is respected as a mentor and peer.

Her examples of providing guidance and leadership in palliative care are immeasurable. Under Susan’s tutelage, the organization has continued to embrace a culture that supports patients and their families at end-of-life, assuring that they receive the highest quality of care possible.  

Some of Susan’s noteworthy accomplishments include:

  • Providing the foundational groundwork by participating in the California Hospital Initiative for Palliative Care Services (CHIPS) program; Children’s Hospital was the only pediatric facility to participate.
  • Focusing on providing palliative care education, formally and informally, to parents and families, and to the bedside nurses and physicians. 
  • Co-leading the Palliative Care Steering Committee and serving as an expert resource to the NICU unit-based committee.
  • Working to develop legislation that would allow children to receive curative care while in Hospice and organizing a regional conference to develop closer collaboration. 
  • Participating in the development of the caregiver case reviews and providing ongoing support in this effort.
  • Ensuring compliance with The Joint Commission standards of the palliative care program.
  • Participating on the PICU and Oncology Physician Performance Improvement committees attending “rounds” early on to help facilitate the management of care for children at end-of-life. 

Serving in various professional and civic activities, Susan also is a member of the California Central Valley Coalition for Compassionate Care and is certified as a nurse in hospice and palliative care (CHPN). She has brought to Children’s a unique array of skill sets and life experiences. Susan is a well-credentialed professional with a loving heart of human kindness!  Children’s patients and families are her first priority – they are well-served.     


Nurse of the Year – Administration/Leadership 2011

Carole Cooper, MHA, BSN, RN, CPN

Clinical Practice Specialist 

Carole is a role model for the professional practice of nursing, achieving exemplary excellence and contributing to the advancement of nursing in the organization, region and nation. Her passion in the professional practice of nursing is driven by a strong desire for excellence in patient care and quality outcomes. 

She provides leadership for a variety of programs and processes related to evidence-based nursing practice, research and patient care outcomes. Carole is outcome oriented as demonstrated by a number of accomplishments she has achieved, and her pursuit of evidence to enhance quality of patient care. 

Highlights of Carole’s accomplishments include:

  • Influencing a number of practice changes through research and evidence-based practice.
  • Decreasing the occurrence of central line-associated blood stream infections and catheter associated urinary tract infections as well as early identification of pediatric patients at risk for deterioration through the implementation of the pediatric early warning system (PEWS) tool; her efforts with the PEWS team,to implement PEWS in all acute care areas have resulted in a 60 percent decrease in code blues in the pediatric acute care setting.
  • Mentoring numerous nurses in research methodology and evidence-based practice.
  • Contributing new knowledge to the profession of nursing through local and national presentations and publications.
  • Recognition in the community as a leader for her efforts in research, EBP and advancing the education of critical care nurses.
  • Promoting the professional practice of nursing through supporting nurses in achieving national certification and establishing local on-site testing for the certified pediatric nurses exam.
  • Serving as principal and co-investigator on several research projects; she is sought by colleagues across the nation for her expertise in pediatric falls. 

Carole is professionally active in the Central Valley Chapter American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and other organizations, including civic involvement. In addition to her MHA, BSN, ADN, PCCRN, and CPN, she will receive a MSN degree, CNS/Education option, from California State University, Fresno, in June. Carole collaborates easily and successfully with professionals and staff house-wide. Her commitment to quality care is an inspiration to all.   


Nurse of the Year – Education 2011

Jo A. Lyons, MOB, BS, RN-BC 

Ambulatory Clinical Care Coordinator 

Jo Lyons is an expert pediatric nurse who consistently achieves optimal outcomes in her professional practice, educational seminars and membership activities of her professional and personal affiliations. Clinical staff members in ambulatory and in other departments readily respond to Jo’s informal, unique and effective style of teaching, whether through mentoring, orientation or committee involvement. She enthusiastically embraces change and leads others in supporting the organization’s initiatives. Jo’s education and leadership have greatly influenced the professional practice of nursing in the ambulatory setting. 

Involvement in nursing governance has been paramount for Jo. She has participated in the Practice Council, working diligently, in particular, on developing and revising policies for the ambulatory division. These policies contribute to an increased standard of care for the patients throughout Children’s. 

Among Jo’s contributions at Children’s are:

  • Participating in the development of education modules specifically for the ambulatory nurse focusing on legal practice, telehealth and vaccines.
  • Participating in the Professional Development Council representing the needs and perspectives of the 26 practices, testing areas and therapies of the ambulatory division.
  • Designing an orientation program for new graduates in a very complex outpatient setting.
  • Serving as a clinical expert providing specialized nursing services for the California Children’s Services (CCS) Cardiology and Gastroenterology Center visits. 
  • Guiding the ambulatory task force in the development of ambulatory focused, unlicensed assistive personnel and RN competency assessment tools.
  • Sharing knowledge of practice and workflow in each of the ambulatory practices.
  • Providing mentoring, teaching and specialized nursing where needed;
  • contributing to the competency assessment process.
  • Facilitating the Journal Club by presenting and leading discussion of a research article. 
  • Advocating for evidence-based practice while an active member of Children’s Nursing Research Committee. 

Jo is a member of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (AAACN) and is a certified ambulatory care nurse. She serves her community through numerous civic activities. Jo demonstrates and embraces Children’s core values – excellence, compassionate care, integrity, innovation, collaboration and stewardship. Her smile, quick wit and tremendous sense of humor bring a sparkle, yet a calm of genuine concern and healing to Children’s patients and their families.  


Friend of Nursing

Annually a Friend of Nursing is recognized for his or her contributions and support of nurses in the provision of patient care, and/or the development of processes to enhance the professional work environment for nursing. The nominees this year include individuals from throughout the organization who are “friends of nursing.”


Friend of Nursing Nominees

Dale Clark

Chris Coakley

James Gathright

Father Simon B. Howson

Anita (Kay) Keefer 

Mykel Newton

NICU Parent Partners

Kathleen Scharton

Irene Sotelo

Sarmita Souza


It is our honor to recognize Father Simon B. Howson as the Friend of Nursing for 2011.


Friend of Nursing 2011

Father Simon B. Howson, B.Th., M.Div. 

What is a friend? Dictionaries define a friend as “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron, supporter.” 1 Thus, a friend of nursing would be a supporter of nursing, or a person that enables the nurse to perform the act of nursing. The selected winner of Children’s Hospital 2011 Friend of Nursing is Father Simon Howson, chaplain from the department of spiritual support.

 One main objective of a hospital chaplain is to provide guidance and spiritual assistance to patients and their families. The nomination statements for Father Simon reflect his compassion and calming manner with patients and families. He extends the gift of guidance and support to the nursing staff as well. Going beyond the patient and family was the theme expressed in the comments of the many nominations received for Father Simon.

 “Simon’s spirit is palpable and he has an amazing ability to connect with people. It is obvious how much he loves his work,” said one PICU staff member. Others commented on his innate ability to connect with people of all faiths and denominations and the fact that he is always able to give comfort in a difficult situation, regardless of a family’s faith. Father Simon is also noted for his humor and friendship, often sharing a cup of tea with someone troubled or a laugh as he makes his rounds. He is known to lift the spirits of many in what can be a stressful environment.

 Father Simon credits and thanks Marsha Pugh, RN, for first suggesting he apply for a chaplain position at Children’s after observing him with a patient and family from his church who were on Apollo. “I laughed and told her that it was what I was trained to do and my passion,” he said. Children’s is fortunate to have Father Simon, who in addition to spending three years in divinity school earning his master’s degree, spent an academic year earning three units of clinical pastoral education at Golisano Children’s Hospital in New York. Ordained originally as a priest of the Old Catholic Church almost 11 years ago, he became a member of the Church of England while serving as a missionary priest in Tanzania, East Africa. In 2004 he was made an honorary canon for service to the church and given a permanent seat in the Cathedral Church in Dar es Salaam. For the past eight years he has also volunteered as an auxiliary USAF chaplain (major), working in such areas as moral leadership, critical incident stress debriefing and mental health first aid.

 Father Simon explains what he likes best about Children’s. “It is such a good fit,” he said. “I feel like a duck in water. Every day is different. It’s a combination of the new and exciting with the comfortable and familiar.” He considers it an honor to be alongside staff while they do their work. When asked how he felt about being a “Friend of Nursing,” Father Simon said that he is a servant of God. He quoted John chapter 21 and said he is just “feeding sheep.”

 It is no surprise that Father Simon comforts and supports all patients, families, and staff. Differences in roles and religions don’t seem to be important to Father Simon, who replies that his job is to “stand in the gap and love people.” If one spends any length of time with Father Simon, it is easy to see that he is not just a genuine Friend of Nursing, but a friend to all at Children’s Hospital.



  1.  (, 2011).



In This Issue

Nursing Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow - Making A Difference

Nursing Through The Generations

Family Footsteps: Generations of Influence

Family Footsteps: Born To Be…

Family Footsteps: Nursing, It's In The Family

It's Not Your Grandma's Student Program

Nurse of the Year 2011

Evaluation of the Humpty Dumpty Fall Risk Screening Tool

Enhancements to Nursing Professional Practice

Contributions to Practice

Leadership in Professional Nursing Organizations