CVICU nurse wins Margaret Martin Award



Connie Neuzerling

Connie Neuzerling, a nurse for 37 years, is honored for the care and support she provides to heart patients and their families.

By Maureen Gilmer, Riley Children’s Health senior writer,

Connie Neuzerling had no clue that her husband, Gary, was seated in the back of the auditorium Tuesday during the annual Riley Children’s Health Nurses Week awards ceremony, but he was there for a good reason.

For the second time in just a few years, Neuzerling was honored with the prestigious Margaret Martin-Roth Award. Her husband had been tipped off ahead of time so he could be there to celebrate with her.

“I was not expecting this,” the longtime CVICU nurse said as she juggled a plaque and glass sculpture while being congratulated by colleagues.

“When you think about all the nurses here at Riley who are awesome, I’m humbled that I would be selected. There are so many other very deserving folks who immediately come to mind.”

Connie Neuzerling

Others nominated were: Alyssa Hall, PICU; Audrey Leisinger, Pediatric Oncology; Ashley Lineback, Emergency Department; Susan Little, Maternity Tower; Julie Parks, 5 West; Angela Seitz, Outpatient Burn Clinic; Amy Spenner, Fetal Center; and Melissa Young, Pediatric Urology.

This year’s experience was a little different from Neuzerling’s first win in 2021. That awards program was a virtual affair due to the pandemic, so she watched it on a computer screen on her unit. Being surrounded in person by team members from around the hospital this week was even more special.

The Margaret Martin-Roth Award is presented annually in honor of a trailblazer at Riley. Margaret Martin, who married late in life and died last year at the age of 102, arrived at Riley in 1965, joining Dr. Morris Green in his quest to transform pediatric care.

She served as director of nursing from 1974 to 1985 and was named Indiana Nurse of the Year in 1980.

“Margaret had a passion and deep understanding of the importance of empowered families participating in every aspect of their child’s care,” said Marilyn Cox, former chief nursing officer and senior vice president for nursing and patient care services. “She listened, she cared, she asked her nurses to take chances and to innovate in their patient care best practices.”

Her example is a lot to live up to, but the nomination for Neuzerling sings her praises. Following are excerpts:

“Connie is unique because she provides excellent patient care at the bedside and is a vital resource for her co-workers, with a wealth of knowledge to share. Furthermore, she has taken on the Heart Center’s VAD (Ventricular Assist Device) coordinator role. In this role, she spearheads VAD education/simulations for Heart Center nurses, organizes re-education and quarterly recertification events, and is a resource for nurses caring for VAD patients during each shift. Her presence and knowledge are comforting and reassuring to nurses in that role.

“Outside of rounds, she provides nursing and parent education about sterile dressing changes, VAD care and transportation off the unit with a VAD. … The tireless effort she puts into providing patient-centered care improves outcomes.”

Neuzerling, who said she joined the Riley team as a “baby nurse, a new grad” 37 years ago, started in the PICU before transitioning to CVICU.

“My preceptor was a cardiac nurse, so I developed a love for those babies as well,” she said. “That patient population has always been very special to me.”

Neuzerling, who became a first-time grandmother May 1, also leads the CVICU’s Professional Practice Committee and performs harm audits to improve quality initiatives on the unit.

Asked what she loves most about her job, she doesn’t hesitate.

“The people – the team, the kids, the families. It’s not really a job, it’s a calling.”

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,