Children’s Annual Nursing Report 2019: Awards, Recognitions & Honors

Take a closer look at the awards, recognitions, and honors that the nurses at Children’s Nebraska received in 2019.

Also read: Annual Nursing Report 2019

Magnet Recognition Program®

The Magnet Award

Children’s Nebraska earned Magnet ® status in 2006, 2011, 2016, and is currently submitting documentation for our 4th designation in 2020. The ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program® is the highest and most prestigious credential a healthcare organization can achieve in relation to quality patient care and nursing excellence. To earn the designation, Children’s met and exceeded evidence-based criteria that shows a safe high-quality health care environment, with an emphasis on Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, New Knowledge, Innovations, and Empirical Outcomes.

U.S. News & World Report

US News & World Reports

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Children’s in five pediatric specialties in the new 2018-19 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings: Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Orthopedics and Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders. This is the highest number of specialties in which Children’s has ranked since participating in the nationwide survey.


Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS)


The Children’s Nebraska was recently re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS). CAMTS accreditation is considered the gold standard for transport quality and safety and was first obtained in 2016. CAMTS accreditation affirms that, by ground or by air, Children’s Nebraska provides the best pediatric and neonatal critical care. In 2018, Children’s Transport service completed nearly 3,000 calls across the region.

ACS (American College of Surgeons) Trauma Verification

Verified Trauma Center

In August of 2018, Children’s trauma program successfully completed the re-verification process for our trauma center and we were officially re-verified as an ACS Level II trauma center in September of 2018. During the review, we received many positive remarks form the reviewers including: Outstanding trauma outreach and data registry, exemplary commitment of the pediatric surgery panel, excellent pediatric rehabilitation capabilities, and excellent PICU care.

Beacon Award for Excellence

Beacon Award

Children’s is proud to live by the Magnet® Vision, as it continues to lead us to strive every day to provide the best patient care. This continues to be evident as both the NICU and PICU within Children’s received the Gold Beacon award in 2017. The Beacon Award for Excellence is awarded by the AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) to designated units that meet or exceed quality standards based on proven indicators of excellence that closely align with the Baldridge of National Quality Award, Magnet Recognition Program, National Quality Forum Safe Practices for Better Healthcare and AACN standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments.

There are three levels to the Beacon Award, and both the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) received the highest level – GOLD. This level signifies excellent and sustained unit performance and patient outcomes.

Recognized as a Safe Sleep Designated Hospital

NE safe babies

Children’s has been recognized as a Safe Sleep Designated hospital by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
The Safe Sleep Program, which was developed to promote safe sleeping practices for infants to prevent Sudden Infant Death (SIDS), is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation on safe sleep practices, including that babies should sleep alone, on their back and in a crib.

Hospital must meet the following elements of the program to be identified as a Safe Sleep provider:

  • Policy for safe sleep
  • Yearly education to staff
  • Compliance audits on practicing safe sleep practices
  • Education to families

March of Dimes

March of Dimes Logo

On Nov. 14, 2019, the March of Dimes recognized 157 nurses from across Nebraska and western Iowa during its annual Nurse of the Year event. Any RN or LPN who has been employed by a Nebraska or western Iowa employer for one year may be nominated by a colleague or family member; nurses with 20 years of experience may be nominated for the Nurse of the Year award. Spirit of Nursing Awards honored top-scoring nurses who demonstrated the essence of nursing related to professional contributions, giving back and compassion for their patients. Each application is blinded and reviewed using a scoring sheet to quantify professional achievements.

Congratulations to the four Children’s nurses who were recognized as winners in a specialty category.

  • Melisa Paradis

    Melisa Paradis, MSN,RN, CPN, CPPS was honored in the Spirit of Nursing category. Her nomination read:

    “Melisa is the picture of a professional nurse who enhances the quality of life for patients by constantly putting patients first. Her integrity, leadership, broad perspective and continuous focus on improvement benefit each and every patient at Children’s. Even the hardest challenges do not rattle her impervious spirit. She will find the right team, the right way, at the right time to implement solutions and overcome barriers no matter what.”

  • Christine Woell

    Christine Woell, MSN, APRN-CNS, CPN was honored in the Spirit of Nursing category. Her nomination read:

    “Christy Woell is a remarkable, inspiring and profoundly caring nurse. She brings compassion and competence to every encounter. Her work ethic is impressive and tireless. Her sense of commitment to interdisciplinary team communication and inclusion is inspiring. Christy is a patient champion who advocates proactively and personally for each child and family.”

  • Lindsay Hegemann

    Lindsay Hegemann, BSN, RN, CPN, CIC was honored in the Excellence in Pediatrics category. Her nomination read:

    “Lindsay continues to grow in her profession and share her expertise and leadership with her peers, our organization and the community. Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless, and she is a pleasure to work with. She is an instrumental part of our team and works tirelessly to achieve our goals. While she would probably not consider herself a mentor or a leader, she quietly serves as an expert in infection control, listening, investigating, problem-solving, communicating, teaching, mentoring and leading with each situation and case that comes her way.”

  • Mellisa Renter

    Mellisa Renter, MSN, RN, CPN was honored in the Excellence in Pediatrics category. Her nomination read:

    “Mellisa has a passion for empowering nurses to reach their full potential in leading health care change. She helped lead multiple projects and programs to create an environment where nurses are motivated to directly affect an organization’s ability to provide the highest quality care and best patient experience. As a Children’s employee for the past five years, she has positively influenced nursing practice across the continuum through nursing education, professional development initiatives, and process improvement, which have positively influenced nurse autonomy, staff satisfaction, and patient outcomes.”

Positive Image of Nursing Award

Nebraska Nurses Association

The Positive Image of Nursing Award is a recognition and award program facilitated by the Nebraska Nurses Association to commemorate National Nurses Week. This annual tradition honors outstanding professional Registered Nurses whose commitment and dedication exemplify a “Positive Image of Nursing.” The awards were presented at a breakfast hosted by the Nebraska Nurses Association (NNA) on Saturday, April 27, 2019 Thank you, nurses, for representing Children’s so admirably. Your professionalism and commitment are appreciated.

Congratulations to the 2019 Winners:

  • Positive Image of Nursing Award Winners

    • Jennifer Bishoff, BSN, RN, CPN, CLS (4MS)
    • Gina Wagner, BSN, RN, CPN (5MS)
    • Kaitlyn Reif, BSN, RN (6MS)
    • Caitlin McDermott, BSN, RN (NICU)
    • Bobbie Hohman, BSN, RN, CPN (PICU)
    • Trevor Woodward, MSN, RN, CPN (ED)
    • Dominique Holt, BSN, RN (SSU)
    • Colette Jones, BSN, RN (PACU/MRI)
    • Samantha Wood, MSN, RN (OR)
    • Cindy Caldwell, RN (CARES/PACU/SOU)
    • Peggy Wheeler, BSN, RN, CPN (CHHC-Private Duty)
    • Sarah Kaelin, BSN, RN (CHHC-HHC)
    • Ashley Thompson, BSN, RN, CPN (In-Patient Flex Team)
    • Beth Stopak, BSN, RN, CPN (SPC- Flex Team)
    • Christi Thompson, BSN, RN, CPN (SPC- Nurse Manager)
    • Jensin Cates, BSN, RN, CPN (SPC- Clinical Educator/Flex Nurse)
    • Andrea Weber, BS Ed, BSN, RN, CPN, CCRN-K (Nurse Case Manager)
    • Amber Hanson, BSN, RN (Children’s Physicians, Dundee)
    • Bonnie Gengler, BSN, RN (Children’s Physicians, Fremont)
    • Mary Herrington, BSN, RN, CPN (Urgent Care)
    • Bre Bartek, BSN, RN (Nurse Informaticist)
    • Annette Schnell, MSN, APRN-PCNS-BC, CPN (Coordinator, Nursing Professional Development)
    • Jamie Mukherjee, MSN, APRN-PCNS-BC, CPST (Trauma Program Manager)
    • Phillip Armendariz, BSN, RN, CEN (Transport)

The DAISY Award

The Daisy Award

The DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Award is an international recognition program that honors and celebrates the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide every day. The DAISY Foundation was established by the family of J. Patrick Barnes after he died from complications of the auto-immune disease ITP in 1999. During his hospitalization, they deeply appreciated the care and compassion shown to Patrick and his entire family. When he died, they felt compelled to say “thank you” to nurses in a very public way.

DAISY Award recipients personify Children’s Nebraska’s remarkable patient experience. These individuals consistently demonstrate excellence through clinical expertise, extraordinary service, and compassionate care and are recognized as outstanding role models in the nursing community. Congratulations to our 2019 DAISY Award winners.

  • January 2019: Tyler Russell

    January 2019: Tyler Russell, BSN, RN (PICU)

    “Tyler treated my child with compassion, respect, and dignity. He spoke to my nonverbal son and interacted with him rather than only interact with me. Tyler had a gentle touch and walked my son through everything he was going to do to him. That meant a lot to both of us. Thank you, Tyler, for explaining things thoroughly and always making sure I understood. You are truly awesome at your job!!!! A+ PICU nurse!”

  • February 2019: Caitlin McDermott

    February 2019: Caitlin McDermott, BSN, RN (NICU)

    “ Caitlin always went above and beyond to make sure that my daughter in the NICU was taken care of. She felt like family to us. We live several hours away and stayed at the Rainbow House, and I felt comfortable going back to the Rainbow House in the evenings and leaving my baby with her. If we did not make it back in the morning before she went off shift, she would leave positive little notes to us from our daughter, with messages like, ‘I rocked & drank half of a bottle last night Mom & Dad, keep up the great work!’ These notes went such a long way for us on days when we felt there was little hope. it always reminded us that there was some positive progress each day!

  • March 2019: Phillip Armendaiz and Matthew Peterson

    March 2019: Phillip Armendaiz, BSN, RN, CEN, CCRN and Matthew Peterson, BSN, RN (Transport)

    “Matthew Peterson and Phillip Armendariz are two extraordinary nurses that I have the privilege of working alongside. Recently they performed an act of heroism that I believe makes them most worthy of this award. Matt and Phil went to pick up an ambulance that had been repaired. While returning, they came across a state patrol officer performing CPR on a man. Matt and Phil immediately stopped and rendered aid — in a snowbank on the side of a highway. They then transported him to a nearby hospital. Due to the heroic efforts and immediate aid provided by Matt and Phil, the man is alive and well.It is because of the efforts of Matt and Phil that a family now has their son/brother/husband/father back with them.”

  • April 2019: Katie Kurtz

    April 2019: Katie Kurtz, BSN, RN, CPN (6MS)

    “I went to the ER and when I got to the room, I was alone because my mom was still driving up. That’s when I met Katie. I was worried because my mom still wasn’t there. Katie could tell that I was scared so she distracted me from my pain by telling me what she liked to do for fun and then asking me what I like to do. I was much more comfortable by the time the doctor came in and my mom arrived. Katie said that she was going to ask us a million more questions but she was so funny it didn’t feel like a million. She tucked me in with a warm blanket and it made me feel like I was safe. Isaw her give my mom a warm blanket, too. Katie he made me feel like it wasn’t so bad being in the hospital. I felt like she really cared about me. She made me feel like I was the world.”

  • May 2019: Lynette Mullins

    May 2019: Lynette Mullins RN, CPN (Zoo First Aid Station)

    “Lynette demonstrates consistent excellence in her job at the First Aid Station at the Omaha Zoo. At the beginning of this season, she responded to a call where she found fellow zoo employees — many of whom she had trained in CPR and AED skills — performing CPR. She jumped right in and contributed to the life saving skills they all as a team performed. She is the kind of nurse who will go into the splash pad area to help an elderly woman and then sit the rest of her shift in soaking wet clothes. Lynette embraces the challenges at the zoo with a smile, a ‘how may I help you’ attitude and without complaining. She provides care with expertise, efficiency, professionalism and the most caring heart! We are so proud to call her our teammate, friend and confidante!.”

  • June 2019: Adeline Caldwell

    June 2019: Adeline Caldwell BSN, RN (4MS)

    “Adeline took exceptional care of our son. Even though he is non-verbal, they connected throughout her shift. She made sure he was comfortable and watched very closely as he transitioned from high flo to room air. She made sure I, as a parent, was given the opportunity to eat all meals so that I was refreshed and able to be my best self for my son. My son hates being left alone, but he was comfortable being with Adeline while I grabbed food. She was a genuine, caring nurse that made our day as great as it could be!”

  • July 2019: Mary Drouillard

    July 2019: Mary Drouillard BSN, RN, CPN, CCRN (CARES)

    “I was so lucky and blessed to have Mary as my nurse during my water deprivation test. I was having an incredibly difficult time. Mary took the time to truly get to know me and went over and above to make me more comfortable and happy. She literally ran across the hospital to advocate for me on several occasions to my doctor. She found out I love dogs and surprised me with a visit from Sven, the comfort dog. That actually made me able to think of something other than my pain and brought me great joy. She has an infectiously happy personality that got me through the day. After this day, I would get to see Mary during my chemo treatments when she filled in at the Infusion Center. She was a ray of sunshine during a very dark time in my life. She even came in and made a surprise visit to me in the operating room before surgery! My mom thought I was dreaming, but that’s just how special Mary is. She is one in a million!”

  • August 2019: Charlotte Stuhr

    August 2019: Charlotte Stuhr BSN, RN CCRN (Cardiac Care Unit), BSN, RN CCRN (Cardiac Care Unit)

    “Charlotte was the first nurse we had after our newborn daughter’s heart surgery. She immediately comforted us with her skill, professionalism, diligence of care, and natural sense to educate parents about what’s happening with their child. We felt safe leaving our daughter in her care, even on bad days. Charlotte knows what she is doing and it radiates off of her. There is no amount of money that you can pay someone to provide that level of comfort and care to a family during such a hard time. We are forever in her debt. Every single one of our daughter’s nurses has extraordinary skills, but I can’t imagine another person on earth that I could trust my daughter with as whole heartedly as Charlotte.”

  • September 2019: Maddie Besack

    September 2019: Maddie Besack BSN, RN (Inpatient Flex Team)

    “My daughter stayed in the PICU for a few days after airway surgery, and Madelyne was so helpful and patient with my daughter and me. Even though she was very busy, she always listened to me when I just needed to vent. She gave us updates and talked to the doctors when I was concerned. I was confused because my daughter was scheduled for more surgery, and different doctors were telling us different things, but Madelyne went above and beyond to figure out exactly what was going on. Madelyne also helped us fix my daughter’s wheelchair — it was a simple thing, but it made me happy that she was willing to help so we wouldn’t have to travel somewhere else. he knew I was stressed and overwhelmed and to me it seemed like she just wanted to help make things easier for me. That means so much to me. A huge shout out and a BIG THANK YOU to Madelyn for being such an amazing nurse!”

  • October 2019: Theresa Rhylander

    October 2019: Theresa Rhylander BSN, RN (PICU)

    “Theresa’s bedside banner was incredible and hard to find these days in the fast-paced medical field. Her knowledge of what she was doing and how she explained things in terms to our family put us at ease. She always had a smile on her face and a comforting hand. If she didn’t know the answer she went looking for it. Also, Theresa never hesitated or seemed irritated — no matter how big our demand/want was. She always listened patiently and advocated for her patients without hesitation. We would have kept her 24/7 if we could have. She made this hard time in our lives a little easier and we are so grateful for that.”

  • November 2019: Austin Derby

    November 2019: Austin Derby BSN, RN (6MS)

    “Our baby boy was in the hospital for several days, and Austin was our nurse for the first couple of nights. Having such an amazing nurse and man coming in and out making us laugh got our minds off of these difficult times. He even stopped in to see how we were doing when he was scheduled on the other side of the building. We are so grateful for how he treated us and our child. He is a wonderful person with the biggest heart. Despite the situation, we couldn’t have been more blessed to be at this hospital and experience such a wonderful nurse and man. Every staff member we’ve worked with has been amazing, but Austin was truly a blessing.”

  • December 2019: Jessica Craft

    December 2019: Jessica Craft BSN, RN (5MS)

    “Jessica went above and beyond for a pediatric surgery patient. She could see that a Spanish-speaking family was not understanding most of the information being given to them, and were embarrassed to admit that they couldn’t read or write. This was concerning since the patient was going home with a drain, antibiotics, and over-the-counter medications. Jessica called the pharmacy to find out the colors of each medication and amounts per dose. Then, she used duct tape colors to color-code medications and syringes, giving them a system they could understand. Jessica spent hours with this family to understand their needs and make their discharge possible. She showed so much advocacy for the patient and family. Her caring, compassion and ingenuity for education to provide truly exceptional patient care.”

Nebraska School Nurse of the Year Award

Nebraska School Nurse Association

The Excellence in School Nursing Award is sponsored by the Nebraska School Nurses Association (NSNA). The purpose is to recognize the contributions of Nebraska School Nurses by honoring one School nurse who has demonstrated leadership and excellence in the practice of School nursing.

Children’s school nurse Melissa Smith, received this award at the NSNA’s annual School Health Conference on June 4, 2019. Melissa was nominated by Kim Eymann, Principle of Westside Middle School, where Melissa is assigned.

  • Melissa Smith

    Melissa Smith, BSN, RN, Children’s School Nurse

    “Melissa is always professional in her interactions with students, staff and parents. Her communication skills are precise and clear. Melissa does whatever necessary to ensure the safety of the students. Melissa taught CPR and First Aid to eighth-grade students and developed wonderful relationships with these students. Melissa is currently studying at Creighton University to obtain her Doctorate of Nursing Practice as a mental health nurse practitioner.”

Robert E. Murphy Spirit of Caring Award

Spirit of Caring Award
This annual award, initiated by the family of Dr. Robert E. Murphy, honors a pediatric nurse who exemplifies those qualities that provide comfort and support to children and their families during a hospital or clinic experience. These attributes mirror those Dr. Murphy displayed in his own life, as well as those qualities he admired most in the nurses with whom he worked. Attributes of service excellence, teamwork, respect, skilled clinician, and accountability.

Jenny Ziegenbein received the 2019 Robert E. Murphy Spirit of Caring Award.

  • Jenny Ziegenbein

    Jenny Ziegenbein RN, CPN, CLC

    “Jenny treats every patient as though they are her own children. Her caring and enthusiastic approach sets her apart, and she doesn’t hesitate to go the extra mile to make a patient’s day. There are so many examples — she supports and comforts every single child and family member — but here are a few:

    • One of her patients was upset because he was being discharged before BINGO. She made a BINGO card for his car ride home with pictures of things he might see on the ride and gave his mom a prize for when they got home. The boy left the hospital with the biggest smile.
    • She always remembers what patients like. One liked listening to “I Love Rock and Roll” to distract himself from taking medication, so she brought in the song and a bubble machine, and set up a bubble dance party in his room. Another patient was obsessed with Paw Patrol, so she brought in a bag of stickers.
    • She thinks about the other family members. A patient’s mom told her that she wanted to read a certain book but felt guilty and selfish for thinking about leaving to get herself the book. Jenny surprised her by giving her a copy of the book.

    Jenny cared for a patient at the end of her life. The girl and parents were so comforted by Jenny that when they left hospice, the patient’s mother hugged Jenny saying, ‘If you are the last nurse that she remembers, I am glad it was you.’

    These are just a few examples — it’s no surprise that she has been nominated for this award more than once. From her caring and compassionate interactions with each and every family she encounters, Jenny is remembered by patients and families months, and even years, later. In my mind, and the eyes of our patients and families, Jenny is here working to improve the life of EVERY child.”

Florence Nightingale Award

Florence Nightingale Award

Children’s nurses were recognized on May 7, 2019, as winners of the Florence Nightingale Award for their area. Peers nominate a nurse from their area who exemplifies characteristics that Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, demonstrated. These characteristics include a dedication to nursing; is an excellent clinician; holds the highest of safety standards; and promotes nursing as a profession.


  • Florence Nightingale Award Winners

    • CARES/PACU – Megan Ruffcorn, BSN, RN, CPN
    • COSC – Francie Ethofer, BSN, RN, CPN
    • ED – Jaime Anderson, BSN, RN,
    • Employee Health – Brandy Taylor, BSN, RN
    • FLEX – Marci Paben, BSN, RN, CPN
    • Home Health Visiting – Bethany Morrison ASN, RN
    • 4MS – Kylie Grant, BSN, RN, CPN
    • 5MS – Susie Cantrell BSN, RN, CPN
    • 6MS – Sarah Chantry BSN, RN, CPN
    • NICU – Lindsey Mittelbrun BSN, RN
    • Nursing Case Management – Anne Goetz BSN, RN, CPN
    • Nursing Education – Sara Tremel, BSN, RN, CCRN-K
    • Nursing Informatics – Vanessa Le, BSN, RNC
    • OR – Bailey Huls, BSN, RN
    • Infection Prevention – Lindsey Hegemann, BSN, RN, CPN, CIC
    • PICU – Margot Behne, BSN, RN, CCRN
    • Private Duty Nursing – Lora Lee Brennan, MSN, RN, CPN
    • SPC – Ortho – Ashley Krohn BSN, RN
    • SPC – GI – Emilie Beltz, BSN, RN
    • SSU – Tonya Thober BSN, RN, CPN
    • Transport – Becci Meredith, BSN, RN, CCRN, C-NPT
    • Urgent Care – Joni Cox BSN, RN
    • Children’s Physicians – Creighton – Kara Jenson, RN
    • Children’s Physicians – Creighton – Becky Roberts, RN
    • Children’s Physicians – FLEX – Sarah Irvin, BSN, RN, CPN
    • Children’s Physicians – UNMC – Jill Ingram BSN, RN
    • Children’s Physicians – Val Verde – Emily Davis, BSN, RN, CPN
    • Children’s Physicians – West Village Point – Olivia Christensen BSN, RN

Contact Us

For questions about the 2019 nursing awards, recognitions, and honors, please contact Mellisa Renter, Director of Professional Nursing Practice and Magnet Program Director.

Phone: (402) 955-4180
Email: [email protected]


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