Abby Burns, RN, Earns Eileen Austin Neal Spirit of Nursing Award

L to R: Lori Twombly, Director of Health Center Operations; Joshua Dufresne, Acting CEO, SMCS; Abby Burns, RN, Springfield Health Center; Michael Halstead, Interim CEO, Springfield Hospital

Springfield, VT (May 11, 2020) –    Springfield Medical Care Systems and Springfield Hospital are pleased to announce Abby Burns, RN as the 2020 Eileen Austin Neal Spirit of Nursing Award recipient.

Abby Burns, RN
Abby Burns excels in the areas of communication, care of patients, nursing professionalism and teamwork. Abby greets patients as though she has known them for years. Her smile and friendly approach puts patients at ease and pulls them in. She is able to meet patients where they are at and find ways to connect and create trust. She does this through truly caring for patients and having a genuine desire to help improve their health or social situation. She is a great listener and she allows patients to be decision makers and set the course for what they are ready to tackle. She also takes the time to educate patients about the way these decisions can affect their overall health. Abby’s current role is RN Care Coordinator, where she collaborates with the primary care providers to ensure patients’ needs are met. She is often working with community partners to address social determinants of health and she is a strong patient advocate to ensure patients are able to access the resources they need. Abby previously held the role of Director of Nursing. As the Director of Nursing, Abby was a great support to the clinical support staff team for SMCS. She looked for opportunities to provide education and training to ensure staff were providing quality care and they felt confident doing it. She has the skills to identify efficient workflows and processes that both support the clinical support staff, primary care providers and the patient.  She developed an orientation and training plan that assessed skills and identified opportunities for growth for new team members. Abby is in influencer! She has a way of bringing people together and highlighting the strengths of team members and encouraging them to shine. Her approach inspires people to be at their best. Her passion for nursing and supporting the health and well-being of our patients and community is inspirational.

We are writing to nominate Abby Burns for the Eileen Austin Neal award for excellence in nursing.  As Nurse Leader for the practice, Abby’s positive attitude, high standards, and dedication to teamwork and patients knitted us together. She led us through the transition into the Springfield Health Center site, through changes, challenges, and audits with humor and the kind of enthusiasm that inspires everyone around her to do their best for the group. When she stepped away from Ridgewood,  it was of course, to leadership for the nurses of the entire FQHC system. During that period, Abby could be found anywhere she was needed, from staffing phones to writing procedures -anything that benefitted SMCS patients was touched by her influence, and often by her particular caring skill.   When she transitioned to Care Coordinator at Family Medicine, fate had other plans. There was no reason it had to be her to step up and lead Springfield Health Center through a pandemic crisis; that’s just the way she is. She organized the triage banks, designed the Health Center testing procedures, and had us all feeling like we are answering a call to service. We feel that way because she feels that way. Abby is qualified for the Eileen Austin Neal award by training, temperament, and inclination. She has served the people of this healthcare system in so many ways, from med-surg to mental health to community nursing.  We are so lucky and privileged to have her with us.

Abby Burns is an exceptional nurse, in more ways than I can count. I will try to summarize some examples in the following nomination. While reading the criteria under each category; Communication, Care of Patient’s, Professionalism and Team work, I could answer YES to every single one! I had the pleasure of orienting Abby. When she first started at Springfield Hospital on the Medical-Surgical floor, she hit floor running and even at her most stressful moments, had a smile on her face. Abby has now worked in many roles at SMCS office practices, most currently as a care coordinator in Suite 3. Abby is a pleasure to talk to on the phone and is always willing to help in any way she can. I can say that, from working collaboratively, Abby goes above and beyond for the patient’s in our community, meeting and exceeding their healthcare needs. Abby puts her whole heart into her nursing and treats patients as they were her own family members. She meets patients where they are at(emotionally, psychosocially) and treats them as individuals and works with them/their care team to develop an appropriate plan of care. During this COVID19 pandemic, Abby has stepped up as one of the main leaders for nurses at the health center and her leadership skills have been spot on. We are truly blessed to have Abby as a part of our team and hope that you can see, as I do, how deserving she is of this award.

Other 2020 Spirit of Nursing Award nominees include:

Scott Belt, RN
Patient Care Coordinator at Rockingham Health Center since July, 2015 where he had been employed at Springfield Hospital for 10 years. He is a CPR Instructor and a Smoking Cessation Instructor.
Scott listens to all people with open and positive communication, and views internal communication within this organization as his responsibility. His is committed to doing the best job possible, always willing to help with caring and seeking opportunities to be helpful. Scott demonstrates his ability to respond to requests for information without hesitation, has excellent leadership skills and incorporates these skills in teaching of health care. Scott interacts with ALL multidisciplinary members in a professional manner, and treats everyone fairly without regard to sex, race, color, religion or sexual orientation. He serves as a role model and strives for “service excellence, ” sharing his time, energy and knowledge with others to ensure they can succeed. He is always willing to “lend a hand” with staffing issues, Script Line, Triage Nurse, COVID-19 Monitor-to say  a few. As Jean Watson, PhD, RN says ” ….caring and love in our work….nursing is a life-giving and life­ receiving career” –this is Scott.

Carolyn Berk, RN
When Carolyn came to Ludlow, I was a bit intimidated by this sharp young ICU nurse, but I soon realized that she was just what we needed here. Carolyn is now our triage nurse, staying at “the helm”. She interacts all day long with patients. She is clear and concise when delivering information. Many patients see her as their “contact” person. Carolyn has learned to identify with patients, and sees them as individuals with needs that are unique to the individual. When it comes down to an emergency event, which we have quite a few such events in our rural clinic, there are only a few people I want at my side and Carolyn is one of the best. She knows her stuff and keeps me and other staff grounded, making everyone more calm. I don’t yell as much and the situation is handled. Carolyn is very professional, guides and inspires our newer staff; and strives always for professionalism. Carolyn shows pride in being an RN and is a valuable resource. Knowing she is “at the helm” of our day to day activities makes all of Ludlow Health Center better.

Mary Ann Bonneville, RN
One of the great attributes of a Nurse is the ability to adapt and change. Mary Ann does this not only in the blink of an eye but with a smile and a nod and her classic, “ok then.”This year has been beyond challenging, stressful and completely full of the need for changes and adjustments to not only the way we do Nursing, but also the way we live our lives in general. Mary Ann went from being a teammate to a leader in the Endoscopy Department. She took on those challenges with grace and understanding that the job needed to be done and she could do it. Not only have I been a Nursing peer with Mary Ann, but I have been her patient. I felt comfortable and at ease knowing that I had a Nurse who I felt genuinely cared about me as her patient. I have witnessed her treating every patient equally with compassion and without judgement, a quality that ALL Nurses should strive for. I am sure that Eileen would have agreed that Mary Ann is a Nurse worthy of this recognition. Mary Ann has been a Springfield employee for many years starting as an LNA then as an RN. Mary Ann has also worked for several departments in the hospital. Currently, she is the charge nurse for Endoscopy.  When Mary Ann first took on her new role, she was given many obstacles which she took in stride and never complained. Mary Ann is always able to see the good and has created morale that is happy and optimistic. Mary Ann always has the best interest of her coworkers and patients in mind. Mary Ann can be called on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and she is always willing to come to work and help out. She has a lot of knowledge and cares deeply about the work she does. She always wants her coworkers to succeed and wants what is best for her patients.  Mary Ann deserves this award because she has given herself to this hospital. She has built up her unit so her staff and surgeons are happy, and morale is at an all-time high. Her coworkers know they can call night or day. Mary Ann has committed herself to being the best nurse she can be.

Jenna Crawford, RN
Jenna Crawford is an exceptional part of our team. From the first day I met her, I could tell she was more than an asset to the Charlestown Health Center (CHC) family. She always has a smile on her face, but remains professional at all times with patients and colleagues. She’s willing to teach new team members and is always up for a new challenge! When working on certain tasks with Jenna, both with patients and “behind the scenes” in the office, she is compassionate, thoughtful, and puts patient care above all else. Jenna demonstrates a scope of clinical skills that is beyond what is expected of her, and yet she is always humble in all settings. Jenna is someone you look forward to working with on a daily basis; the nurse you want to call over when your patient needs someone’s hand to hold, draw blood, and everything in between, and the teammate you can depend on. To say she goes above and beyond as a nurse would be an understatement. It is quite a difficult feat to be kind, compassionate, empathetic, patient, skillful, well-educated, professional and, most of all,  humble.  Jenna Crawford does this effortlessly. We are so grateful to have her at CHC, and to put it simply, Jenna Crawford is deserving of the Eileen Austin Neal Spirit of Nursing Award. Jenna exemplifies every aspect of The Eileen Austin Neap Spirit of Nursing Award.

Jenna creates quick and comforting rapport with every patient and staff member she meets. She is able to calm any nervous patient she meets while getting to know them, all while performing her duties in an efficient manner. Jenna has an innate ability to understand the interaction of body, mind, and spirit of patients which makes her a perfect team member. After rooming the patient, Jenna is able to give great insight as to the patient’s overall well-being and is genuinely interested in their care moving forward. I can always rely on her to reach out to patients before and after an interaction, and to remember previous appointments and interactions. She does this all with such gleaming positivity that it is infectious to the patients and staff. Jenna is the definition of teamwork. She is technically Grace St. Pierre’s nurse, but takes on responsibilities for other nursing staff when she is needed, which is why we know her so well. She constantly reaches out for more opportunities to help with tasks and is always open for questions. Even when she gets overwhelmed, she does not let that affect her professionalism or her ability to remain positive. She is the epitome of this award, and beyond that, what it means to be a nurse. I strongly suggest a serious consideration for this award.

 Lindsey Grasso, RN
I’ve never met a nurse with such a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity. Although Lindsey’s demeanor is tremendously kind and professional with patients and colleagues, and her greatest skill-set shines  at the front lines of direct patient care. She remains professional and personable during all interactions and never complains. Lindsey demonstrates a maturity and empathy that I’ve seen only in a handful of individuals with whom I’ve worked over the years.  She is the type of nurse that goes above and beyond even when no one is looking.

Blythe Kersula, RN
In her role as the Infection Control RN at Springfield Hospital, Blythe Kersula, RN, has shown extraordinary dedication and leadership. COVID 19 hit us in March when we became one of the first counties in Vermont to see cases. As this was a rapidly evolving situation, she had to navigate a very challenging landscape. Information and guidance literally changed sometimes multiple times a day with regard to best practices, and not only did Blythe have to coordinate a response within the hospital, she handled multiple outpatient SMCS facilities as well as the vulnerable Adult Day service.  Doing this in the face of limited resources and staffing, required her to be focused, organized and creative. I quickly came to see Blythe as knowledgeable, open to suggestion, organized, available, and very dedicated to our facility and its satellites. We owe a debt of gratitude to Blythe for helping to lead us through what has been something none of us has even seen before, and hopefully none of us will ever see again. She has managed to keep not only our patients safe, but has been key to keeping our staff safe.

Sarah Moran, RN
Patients regularly report how helpful she has been and how much they like her. She always takes the extra steps to help them. Patients look for her when they come in. Always willing to help the team.

Kate Moriglioni, RN
Kathleen, more affectionately known to most as Kate-Mo, is easily one of the most positive impacts on the nursing staff here as Springfield Hospital. She has not yet given her 60 plus years, as Eileen has done, but with no doubt in my mind will follow this profession through for many years to come. Kate does not consider this a job; it is a profession where she holds herself to the highest of standards, working tirelessly to empower her staff and patients to exceed. The emergency department is a humming center of intensity, with many personalities and multiple tasks to complete. I first met Kate when she was a nurse on night shift – always making sure her team was supported, inspiring others to do their very best, and always getting a few laughs in along the way. It was when she decided to become a charge nurse that I saw how truly amazing she can be. Caring for complex patient she is a born leader, who will always put her patients and staff first. I have first-hand seen her calm the anxious, support those in need of a little extra attention, and interact with our community members (including EMS, Police, HCRS, among many others) with professionalism and attentiveness that they deserve. She takes the initiative to get things done, before even being asked, and will go above and beyond the requirements.

Desirae Wilbur, RN
Dr. Patricia Benner described the evolution of a nurse from novice to expert the journey from knowing how to perform tasks to the expert nurse who has developed an intuitive grasp of the clinical situation – that extreme sense of the patient’s needs, at the moment and in the future, with an instinctual sense of when someone is really sick and potentially in danger that goes beyond simple vitals signs. I have had the great pleasure of watching Desirae, RN progress from novice to expert and become one of the finest young experts in our system. From a student nurse in 2005 to our clinical leader in 2020, I have watched her grow! Desirae is kind, she always expresses positivity with her peers. Always ready to embrace a new project and learning experience, and presents new initiatives from SMCS in a positive way to our staff. Desirae is beloved by the patients not only for her skills, as many patients request that she be the “only one to draw my blood” or the one “who knows me”. Her assessments are excellent and detailed.  Desirae shows compassion for the patient. She is able to walk in their shoes and is an amazing advocate. She encourages patients to “give a try” in getting better. She takes lifestyle medicine very seriously; working to be a healthy example. She engages in lifestyle change initiatives-weight loss and exercise and supports staff and patients in their efforts. She inspires us all to be better with sincerity and with a smile.