Meet Our Award Recipients
Selected from over 120 nominations, this year’s Florence Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing recipients include six extraordinary individuals and one dynamic team that demonstrate the great nursing talent in the Greater Cincinnati region. These professionals combine intelligence, critical thinking, and compassion, working tirelessly to provide exceptional care and advance the field of nursing.
Laura Alexoff, RN, BSN
Hospice of Cincinnati
Hospice care is a uniquely challenging approach to nursing. But through Laura Alexoff ’s insightful and tireless work with Hospice of Cincinnati as a home care nurse, she has earned the trust of families as they experience the pain and grief of losing a loved one. “Laura is known to take the difficult cases of patients and their families who have some denial and misunderstanding of hospice,” says one colleague’s nomination statement. “They are often angry and tough to face. Laura takes these challenges with much patience and kindness to slowly build trust.” Alexoff feels called to hospice care: “Community nursing speaks to me,” she says. “It can be challenging, but the relationships and outcomes give back and sustain me.” Alexoff in turn gives patients and their loved ones the priceless gift of solace and comfort, says one statement, “transforming the physical, psychological and emotional journey from one of anxiety and fear to one of contentment and understanding.”
It can be challenging, but the relationships and outcomes give back and sustain me.
Jerome James, CRNA
Cincinnati VA Medical Center
Jerome “Jerry” James has been a fixture in the local anesthesia community for nearly 40 years as an outstanding Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). “He perceives his patients in whole,” says one colleague, “showing sincere respect for their diversity.” The statement compares James to Florence Nightingale herself, a civilian nurse with a “single lamp lit in the darkness,” assisting men and women who have experienced war. James has personally helped ease the suffering of thousands of service personnel from World War II to Operation New Dawn (OND). Says the statement: “His way of caring rekindles the spirit of what nursing is all about— a light of compassion for the humanity we serve.” James doesn’t just care for his patients; he likes them too. “I really enjoy taking care of vets, having an opportunity to serve them back,” he says. “They’re the most appreciative patients I’ve ever been around.”
I really enjoy taking care of vets. ... They're the most appreciative patients I've ever been around.
Stacy Jones, RN, BSN
Mercy Health - Fairfield Hospital
In her work as a pre-op nurse at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital, Stacy Jones often sees patients who are feeling nervous, vulnerable, and scared. But she takes these challenges in stride, offering a steady hand and a calm voice to help them prepare themselves physically and emotionally for their procedure. Says a colleague in her nomination statement: “Stacy has a quiet confidence that draws people in and provides much needed relief for patients who are frightened to have surgery.” And her kindness and skill doesn’t stop in the operating room. Jones is known to go out of her way to devise innovative solutions for patients recovering from surgery, such as hand-stitching a “Port Pillow” for a patient whose car seat belt was creating discomfort. “I was taught to live a life to serve others in any way you can,” says Jones. “And I feel blessed to be able to do this as a living.”
I was taught to live a life to serve others in any way you can, and I feel blessed to be able to do this as a living.
Megan Duffield-Johnson, CRNA, MSN
As a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Resource Anesthesia in Hillsboro, Ohio, Meghan Duffield-Johnson works with a patient population in the grip of an opioid epidemic. Says one colleague, “Stigma surrounding those suffering from opioid use disorder and substance use disorder is high. Meghan models respect for these patients every day in her clinical practice, and she has been a role model to nurses who have adopted her actions.” Through extensive work in her community to build solutions to end opioid addiction—including educating providers in hospitals on opioid use disorder, medicationassisted therapies, screening, and referral options—Duffield-Johnson has shown leadership as well as compassion and skill, taking dynamic action above and beyond daily clinical care in response to a growing public health crisis. But she’s a CRNA first: “I often tell my patients, I am their eyes, ears, and protector while they are under anesthesia,” says Duffield-Johnson. “That is a huge responsibility and one I do not take lightly.”
I often tell my patients I am their eyes, ears and protector while they are under anesthesia. That is a huge responsibility...
Deb Jump, RN, BSN, CEN, EMT-P
UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care
Critical care providers must balance competing skill sets: They must remain calm in the direst of emergencies. They must be empathetic while safeguarding their own emotional health. And then they must do it all again the next day. Deb Jump does all of this and more in her work with UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care. “If we‘re critically ill one day, we all hope that those caring for us will treat us like family,” explains one nominating statement, which gives a poignant account of Jump’s dedication. “Deb Jump has fully reached that ideal every single day of her career as an emergency nurse and Air Care flight nurse.” Deb is cool under pressure, to be sure. But, says her colleague, she also “allows herself to feel nearly the full magnitude of emotion of every patient and family. No one I’ve ever worked with is more likely to laugh, to cry, to smile, to hug, to hold a hand, or to cry again.”
Leslie Life, RN, BSN
St. Elizabeth Health Care
The Labor and Delivery team at St. Elizabeth Health Care has a nickname for Leslie Life: Mama Leslie. That’s because as charge nurse, Life has proven herself time and again as a compassionate, dedicated, and seemingly indestructible leader who advocates fiercely for every patient and staff member. Says one colleague in a nominating statement: “She is gifted with insight, and uses her knowledge of the nurses’ strengths and weaknesses to advise us and suggest ways to enhance the care we provide.” Those gifts touch patients and team members alike: “She is the one you want behind (or in front of ) you when your patient is about to deliver and no doctor is in sight, or running to respond to your SOS because a baby is stuck or not breathing.” Says Life: “I believe that God placed me in a profession that utilizes all of my natural talents to help others, give comfort, celebrate joys and be part of a profession that serves.”
I belive God placed me in a profession that utilizes all of my natural talents...
UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care
Led by Julie Shaw
The UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care (ACMC) team aspires to be “the world leader in transport medicine” and has in turn recruited a world-class team of professionals to fulfill the mission and deliver first-rate care to anybody, anywhere, for any reason. Says a colleague in a nominating statement: “Maintaining the clinical preparedness and alacrity to handle any of these challenges at a moment’s notice requires a monstrous work ethic—and each of our amazing ACMC nurses has exactly that.” The UC Health ACMC team lead their field in innovation (such as becoming one of the first programs in the world to fly with plasma in 2013), and their depth and breadth of skill is unequaled in the region. As program Leader Julie Shaw notes, “this award is truly a special way to celebrate our accomplishments as we also celebrate the 35th anniversary of UC Health’s Air Care & Mobile Care serving Greater Cincinnati this year.”
This award is truly a special way to celebrate our accomplishments as we also celebrate the 35th anniversary of UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care serving Greater Cincinnati.