May 4, 2018

'I am a nurse'

Celebrating the nation’s caregivers during Nurses Week 2018

It’s a day many will never forget. As flames from a fast-moving wildfire lit the sky above Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Medical Center on Oct. 9, 2017, nurses helped evacuate 122 patients, with many using their own cars to drive them to safety.

As they cared for their patients, some nurses were losing their own homes to the blaze.

“I’ve lost everything, yet I didn’t lose who I am,” said Julayne Smithson, RN, who was monitoring a patient in the intensive care unit that night. “I am a nurse.”

As we celebrate Nurses Week from May 6 to 12, Smithson and the others who cared for those affected by the 2017 wildfires in both Northern and Southern California are a vivid illustration of the dedication and bravery of the nation’s nurses. But whether they are rescuing patients from a fire, teaching members to manage chronic conditions, sharing research findings with colleagues, or designing programs to prevent infection, nurses are heroes. 

“Kaiser Permanente’s more than 58,000 nurses are clinical experts, care managers, researchers, patient advocates and so much more,” said Linda Knodel, MSN, MHA, a veteran health care leader who became the organization’s chief nurse executive and senior vice president of National Patient Care Services in August 2017. “They make up more than a quarter of our workforce and play a vital role in ensuring the best outcomes for our patients and improving the total health of our communities.”

Inspire, innovate, influence

Nurses Week takes place every year during the week leading up to legendary nurse Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The American Nurses Association theme for the 2018 celebration is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.”

Kaiser Permanente joins this celebration by honoring and thanking the nation’s 4 million nurses — especially the 58,000 we’re proud to call our own. A highlight of the week is the announcement of the winners of the Kaiser Permanente Extraordinary Nurse Awards. The winners exemplify our nursing values of compassion, excellence, integrity, professionalism, teamwork, and patient- and family-centric care. Visit the Nurses Week site to read their stories in their own words.

Meet the Extraordinary Nurse Award winners

“Nursing is all about love — love of yourself, love of your team, love of your patients,” said Linda Ackerman. As director of the Caring Science program for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, she encourages nurses to incorporate that outlook in their practice.

Improving diabetes care and teaching better self-management of the disease is a passion for nurse educator Meredith Cotton. “We are all better at what we do because of her example,” said her manager.

Kelly Hebel knows how hard nurses work to juggle competing demands. That’s why she created the Virtual Support Team for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, which enables remote nurses to handle messages from patients with less acute needs, freeing up on-site nurses to focus on patients in medical offices.

As a pediatric psychiatry nurse, Bea Anne Lynch serves an often-overlooked population: children with anxiety, depression, autism and developmental disorders. Colleagues say she has a special ability to connect with these kids and make them feel safe.

As a teen, Genna Manibog took care of her ailing grandparents. Today, she cares for patients on the medical-surgical unit at Moanalua Medical Center with the same genuine warmth. “Genna lives out our commitment to care for Hawaii’s people like family,” said her manager.

Malia Meredith cares for children with sometimes life-threatening conditions as a specialty coordinator in a pediatric cardiology clinic. Family members say she guides them through hard times with compassion. One mom said, “She gave me a hug, and I felt like everything was going to be OK.”

Katheryne Paguio is “the nurse every RN should aspire to be,” said a colleague. When she’s not caring for patients on the intensive care unit or definitive care recovery units, she participates in medical missions to her native Philippines.

Catherine Parsons-Goudberg has cared for some of the tiniest patients during her 42 years as a neonatal intensive care nurse. She is equally talented as an educator. “My practice has been elevated by working with her,” said a colleague.

A desire to help people in crisis has been a constant throughout Natasha Tobias-White’s career, whether she’s caring for patients in the intensive care unit or tending to Ebola patients overseas. “There are few people who would put their own lives on the line to serve others,” a colleague commented. “That’s what Natasha does every day.”

Nurses Week at Kaiser Permanente