VNAA - Visiting Nurse Associations of America

2010 VNAA National Award Recipients

The VNAA National Awards celebrate the unique qualities and contributions of individual leaders and staff working in nonprofit home healthcare and hospice. This year's luncheon provides a perfect opportunity for every organization and individual connected to the VNAA mission to come together and recognize the outstanding contributions made by the award winners.

View the National Luncheon Photo Slideshow... click here.

Clinician of the Year

Andi Parkhill, RN, BSN, Community Health Nurse
Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, Red Bank, NJ

Andi Parkhill, Registered Nurse, works in the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ) Senior Wellness Program and as a community nurse in southern Monmouth County, NJ. She was nominated for this award for her unique ability to embrace her patient not just as a single individual but as part of a community. In order to improve her patient's quality of life and health, Andi has demonstrated an unmatched dedication in her role as a community nurse by traveling to areas of high crime and drug activity to see her patients. She has combined the role of nurse and social worker so effectively that she has become a leader and resource to many.

"Andi's dedication and compassion transcend her job description in a way we've rarely seen in a nurse. She is able to connect with some of the most challenging clients. She reaches out to them and gently works her way into their lives, improving them immeasurably. Her laughter permeates the room. She is a 'spark' and a joy to behold. Andi is a charming, incredible woman," said Rosemary Gray, Director of the Neptune Senior Center.

She is also a parish nurse at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church where she conducts education and wellness sessions for the community. She always goes above and beyond for both her patients and the community, which is why she was nominated and selected for the VNAA's Clinician of the Year award.

Program Manager of the Year

Mary Agnes Carroll, Director of Corporate Health
Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency, Minneapolis, MN

Mary Agnes Carroll, Director of Corporate Health, is a wise, tempered leader who has used her "can do" attitude to inspire many. Over that past five years, Mary has taken a Division of Minnesota Visting Nurse Agency (MVNA) near collapse and transformed it into a streamlined, computerized, quality and customer-friendly Division. She has cultivated the expansion of the Corporate Division through new business development and the provision of cutting-edge services that support MVNA's Charity Care.

Mary has had an integral role in forever broadening MVNA's Public Health relationships. During the crisis where children were dying for the seasonal flu, Mary worked in partnership with the Counties and the State Health Department to get over 12,000 residents immunized within two weeks. Due to Mary's initiative to make supplemental RN staff available to large entities that give their own Seasonal Flu shots, MVNA was able to build a relationship with the Target Corporation and partnered with the University of Minnesota to offer over 5,000 immunizations, breaking the Guinness World Book of Records for the most flu vaccinations given on a college campus in one day.

Her humor and humility make her a pleasure to work with and her leadership skills and exceptional program management have made Mary one in a million; which is why she was nominated and selected to receive VNAA's Program Manger of the Year award.

Agency Board Member Volunteer of the Year

Dr. Susan Sepples, Director and Associate Professor
University of Southern Maine School of Nursing HomeHealth Visiting Nurses of Southern Maine, Saco, ME

Dr. Susan Sepples has served on the Board of Trustees for over ten years and is currently Chair of the Professional Advisory Committee. She has brought to HHVN not only her years of board service but also a true understanding of what is at the heart of everything that they do. When Dr. Sepples is not helping with the Board, she is a critical care nurse at the Maine Medical Center through which she has maintained her CCRN certification. Also, she is a nursing educator and nursing school administrator at the School of Nursing in the University of Southern Maine.

Through her many undertakings she is a role model to Agency nursing leaders and an advocate for advancing the education of Agency nurses. Maryanna Arsenault, President and CEO of HHVN says, "Chairing the Professional Advisory Committee with an eye on quality requires someone very dedicated to the nursing professional and elevation of nursing and other disciplines working in home healthcare."

In that spirit, Dr. Sepples engaged the Committee in a dialogue regarding the complexity of providing skilled home healthcare. The discussion resulted in the HHVN placing emphasis on hiring BSN level nurses and inspiring nurses to return to schools to pursue BSN and MSN degrees. In addition, her interest in advancing nursing education led to the development of the Nursing Advancement Program which was presented at the 2008 VNAA Annual Meeting. In August of 2009, the Board of Directors voted to transfer $20,000 form operations into the Agency's nursing education funds.

Dr. Sepples ability to generate enthusiasm around education, her advocacy for advancing the quality of nursing education and her dedication to the nursing profession is why she was nominated and selected for VNAA's Agency Board Member of the Year.

Individual Care Provider Volunteer of the Year

Christine Knott, RN
VNA of Care New England, Warwick, RI

Christine Knott, RN, has been a hospice volunteer at VNA of Care New England for 18 years where she has served hundreds of patients and their families. Six days a week, she works at a local hospital as a full-time discharge nurse and on her one day off she is a hospice volunteer. Her areas of volunteerism - companion, respite care and bereavement support - allow her to experience the "non clinical" aspect of being a care giver. Christine does not do this for praise or recognition but simply to help patients and their families during the end-of-life process, believing it's both an honor and privilege to be invited into their final days.

"Christine's philosophy is that the greatest gift one can offer is the gift of one's self...The endless praise we hear from families about Christine, the love and respect we see in their eyes for her and the difference she has made in the end-of-life journey for hundreds of families through the years simply cannot be measured," says President and CEO of VNA of Care New England, Nancy Roberts.

Christine's limitless commitment to her patients, their families and friends and to the hospice program has made her a role model for other volunteers, staff and the community at large. She has shown how one individual can make a difference through selfless and caring acts.It is for those reasons that Christine has been nominated and selected to receive the VNAA Volunteer of the Year Award.

Administrative Manager of the Year

Marjorie Forgang, RN, Chief Nursing Officer
Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, Red Bank, NJ

Marjorie Forgang, RN, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey (VNACJ), is both a clinical and administrative expert in homecare. Through her role as CNO, she is responsible for improving the quality of patient care as well as overseeing clinical operations, evaluations, strategies for care delivery, mentoring, measuring outcomes and overall management.

Marjorie has contributed so many things to VNACJ. She created and provided oversight for a blended palliative and homecare program to assist those patients who either did not choose or were not appropriate candidates for hospices. She was able to reinstitute the concept of Neighborhood Based Care to more than 100 nurses within the agency - an evidence-based model of community nursing care to promote the intrinsic value of the visiting nurse to the neighborhood. She has overseen a new clinical nursing website that provides access to resources and best-practices for nurses, directed the development of a new nursing competency plan to ensure safe practices and evaluate performance, and oversaw the development of a Career Ladder that focuses on four categories of achievement: leadership, neighborhood nursing, professional development and quality nursing practice.

Marjorie has been a mentor to her staff by teaching the importance of understanding both patient outcomes and financial ramifications of clinical care in terms of overall program operations. Mary Ann Christopher, President and CEO of VNACJ says, "Marjorie does not settle for the 'status quo,' but rather, strives to be the best and exceed expectations. She expects this of herself as well as the staff. She continually raises the bars and it is her vision for excellence that motivates others around her and creates energy and momentum to move forward."

She was nominated for the Administrative Manager of the Year award for her positive attitude and approach to motivate her staff to achieve the greatest heights.

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