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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Sep 8, 2016
One thing NCH stands for is “Nurses Care Here”—and that includes nurses reading these weekly Straight Talk messages.

So when my longtime friend RN Sherry Arnes, a nurse for 44 years, emailed me after reading about our Primary Stroke Center recertification, I responded. Sherry suggested we devote a Straight Talk to the care and high-touch service our bedside caregivers provide patients and their families. As a result….

I visited Sherry’s floor, the Audrey Moreau Petersen 6th Floor of the Baker Tower on the North Naples Campus, the next afternoon, after connecting with RNs Elizabeth Gutierrez, Nurse Manager; Erica Szczepkowski, Director; and Gina Teegarden, Associate Chief Nursing Officer for North Naples Hospital.

  • I first observed RN Jennifer Florin, assisting an elderly and anxious patient being readied for discharge and transport via stretcher to the next place for care, accompanied by her most appreciative adult son.

Jennifer reassured the patient with calming language and confidently tucked her into the stretcher, just as you’d expect from a mom with two young sons. That task completed, Jennifer scurried in to see a patient with a tracheotomy, with an alarm beeping. Jennifer told him, “I can’t deal with beeping things,” which triggered smiles rather than anxiety.  Jennifer quickly identified the right alarm—there are many—silenced it, fixed the problem, suctioned the patient’s airway, checked for any pain or discomfort, and finally chatted about the Olympic volleyball game the patient was watching. All of that was done quickly, efficiently, gracefully, with compassion and competence; or as a volleyball coach might say, “Just the way we drew it up.”

  • Outside the nursing station, I ran into Charge Nurse RN Phallon Gradishar, on her day off but in to help with a presentation for the Unit’s quality project poster.

Earlier in the day, Phallon helped out four other RNs on the floor, by sharing her expertise in assessing two of the patients each of which they were caring for—a wonderful example of teamwork in action. Among Phallon’s colleagues, I was delighted to run into Charge Nurse Peter Olsen, who I’ve worked with for decades and who cared for my father 20 years ago.

  • Another alarm rang, and Jennifer went running along with Care Technician Amie Tregea to assist a patient who shouldn’t have been trying to get out of bed on her own.

It was 2 p.m., so Jennifer took a break to have some pizza for late lunch. Jennifer and Phallon agreed their floor was the best floor with an awesome team with people who leave always wanting to come back to work here. As Jennifer put it, “You’ve got to have fun.  I’m here way too long not to have fun.” As I visit other areas around our campuses I often hear that we have many “best” teams and that makes me happy.

After my visit, I debriefed System Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer North Naples Campus Michele Thoman. I realized why we utilize Sherry’s floor to pilot new technologies, like the Smart Rooms we’re installing on both campuses, thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Audrey Petersen. The spirit and competence I found on the Petersen floor is emblematic of the daily performance of all 1,260 RNs and the additional 3,050 team members that NCH is so privileged to have. I salute every one of you for the selfless work you do for our community.


Allen Weiss, MD

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.