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Nurses honored for performance

May 04, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

To kick off National Nurses Week, Washington County Hospital's nurses, physicians and administrators gathered Monday to honor nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty.

This year's Professional Nurse of the Year award recipients are registered nurses Lisa Rihard and Lorna Thomas.

Rihard and Thomas held back tears after their names were called at a ceremony Monday. Both shared a few words about the nursing profession.

Rihard, who's been with the hospital for 10 years, was recognized for her outstanding performance as a clinical nurse. She said the demands are getting tougher and today's nurses have to really know their stuff to determine patients' needs.

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"One operation can affect all of a patient's other medical conditions. So a nurse really has to be on her toes and make good assessments of her patients," Rihard said.

Thomas, who has been with the hospital since 1970, was recognized for her outstanding performance as a nurse administrator.

She said her desire to be a nurse was rooted in her memories of being a patient during her childhood and in her grandmother's wishes.

After years in the field, she said her greatest satisfaction at the end of the day comes from knowing patients have received quality care.

"To see patients get well and be able to go home is rewarding. And for those who won't go home, to keep them comfortable, to have a death with dignity," Thomas said.

Both nurses were nominated by their peers and were judged on expertise, professionalism and education.

Washington County Hospital has given a Professional Nurse of the Year award for 20 years, said Mary Towe, the hospital's executive for nursing services.

Rihard's and Thomas' names will join those of past recipients on a wall plaque displayed in the hospital's main lobby.

Professional Nurse of the Year awards are presented by hospitals across the country in recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6 to 12, Towe said.

"It's to keep in the public light the importance of the work nurses do in promoting the health of our nation," Towe said.

Washington County Hospital currently has 550 nurses on staff and the hospital has maintained a 3 percent vacancy rate for the last 18 months. That's lower than the state's 12 percent average, Towe said.

Flexible scheduling, no mandatory overtime and competitive pay develop a work climate that helps nurses at Washington County Hospital perform at their best, Towe said.

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