By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, email@example.com
On what Riley Children’s Health Chief Nursing Officer Megan Isley describes as her “favorite day of the year,” dozens of nurses were singled out for their accomplishments Tuesday during Riley’s Nursing Excellence Awards program.
Scheduled to coincide with Nurses Week, this year’s event, complete with glow sticks and door prizes, attracted a full house to the Ruth Lilly Auditorium in the Riley Outpatient Center.
There were cheers and tears from those in the audience as they celebrated all Riley nurses for their hard work over the past year.
The top award – the Margaret Martin Roth Award – went to Stacy Nance, a charge nurse who splits her time between the Hematology/Oncology Infusion Clinic and the Surgery Clinic (assisting the craniofacial team).
Others nominated: Kelsi Croy, PICU; Debbie Lemay, Neurology Clinic; and Liam Roche, Resource.
The award is named for a pioneer in pediatric nursing who joined Dr. Morris Green in 1965 to help establish the first parent care unit in the country at Riley in 1971. Margaret Martin Roth passed away in January 2023 at the age of 102.
Her legacy lives on in Riley’s family-centered care model and in the nurses who are guided by her example still today.
“Stacy represents what every professional nurse should strive to be,” the nomination letter read. “She is professionally engaged, utilizing her clinical expertise to advocate for her patients and team members. She fosters relationships with her patients, their families, her team and many disciplines at Riley. She embraces learning and a spirit of inquiry.”
Additionally, the longtime nurse demonstrates commitment to the principles of family-centered care, patient and family education and discharge preparation, the nomination continued.
“Stacy … cares for her patients and their families from their present medical needs to their needs at home. She spearheaded work with food insecurity to help address a piece of social determinants of health that affect our patients. She looks past (a) medical diagnosis to ensure patients are set up for success … addressing barriers to care and the ability of families to advocate for their children.”
After receiving the award, Nance was still sorting through her emotions while colleagues and family members congratulated her.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” she said, explaining that after 17 years as a nurse for IU Health, the past six at Riley, she understands her purpose better than ever.
“I am laser-focused on patient-centered outcomes and all that encompasses. I like to talk about nurse care and self-care and how we can’t fill others’ cups if we don’t have a full cup ourselves,” she said. “I feel like I’m at a point in my career where my job is to raise others up.”
And she does just that, according to comments from co-workers shared on a video after the announcement.
“You exude so much joy in everything you do, and it shows in your research, your patient care and your advocacy for your team,” said one. “We are so lucky to have you,” said another. “You are an inspiration to all of us.”
Nurse Excellence Award winner: Drue Kluemper, Labor & Delivery.
“Drue truly showed her nursing excellence in the care she provided for my daughter and my family,” said a fellow nurse in her nomination letter. “She didn’t just see a patient; she saw a person. A person at their lowest, going through the most difficult thing they will ever go through. Thank you, Drue, for helping me get through the scariest and hardest night of my life.”
Kluemper, who worked for two years in hematology/oncology at IU Health University Hospital before moving over to the Riley Maternity Tower when it opened in 2021, was tearful after the ceremony, grateful for her team and her patients.
“I truthfully didn’t think I’d be good enough to win this award,” she said. “It’s awesome. Our unit is amazing.” And while her role as a labor and delivery nurse can bring joy and sorrow, “you just need to be there for the patient.”
Also nominated: Mary Ash, ROC Surgery Center; Ashley Cantlebarry, Inpatient Rehab; Sarah Hartman, Dialysis Clinic; Kathleen Head, 5W; Angie Jennings, PICU; Teryn Leuthold, 8W; Brittany Creel, 3W Heart Center; Kelly Marvel, Labor & Delivery; Jessica Murphy, PICU; Dianne Seibold, Riley OR; Tracy Spitzer, Nursing Practice PICU; Ronin St. James, PICU.
Among the other award nominees and winners:
Coach Award winner: Anna-Kay Bailey, OB ICU.
This award recognizes outstanding coaches at Riley Children’s Health and their commitment to the development of new Riley nurses.
"Anna-Kay pushes herself out of her comfort zone to ensure the nurses she coaches obtain valuable learning experiences,” said Mackenzie Edge-Reetz, OB ICU clinical manager in her nomination letter.
“She recognizes coaching as an opportunity not only to share her wealth of knowledge, but also to individually grow as a nurse and leader. Anna-Kay advocates fiercely for her patients and truly demonstrates the IU Health values of compassion and purpose when coaching. She is an excellent role model for nurses new to our unit and a valued member of our team,” Edge-Reetz said.
“I love coaching, and I love helping new nurses learn,” Bailey said as her co-workers gathered around to congratulate her. “It feels really nice to be recognized.”
Also nominated: Kasey Boyle, Emergency Department; Brittany Brown, 3W Heart Center; Elizabeth D’alfonso, PICU; Erin Duncan, 9E; Jack Ehrlich, Emergency Department; Angie Hammond, 3W Heart Center; Ivana Hull, 8W; Katie Lail, CVICU; Anna Lubbers, 9W; Natalie Mills, Emergency Department; Darcie Nation, PICU; Ellie Plata, Mother/Baby; Tawanya Roberts, surgery; Allison Schneider, surgery; Kristi Sowder, Mother/Baby; Molly Rose Trent, Labor & Delivery; Brianne Williams, Inpatient Rehab; Jami Wilson, North Peds/PICU.
Stephanie Pottenger Award winner: Shelby Nation, 3W.
The Heart Center nursing award was presented by Stephanie Pottenger’s sister Amy, along with Ashley Ford, day shift coordinator and interim manager for 3W.
“I was a baby nurse when Stephanie started in 2012 as a PCA,” Ford said.
Pottenger would go on to earn her nursing degree from IUPUI, become a certified pediatric nurse and a nationally certified child passenger safety technician, among other leadership roles.
“Stephanie valued education. She loved her Riley family and was a passionate bedside nurse,” Ford said. “She was a preceptor, charge nurse and instructor for St. Elizabeth School of Nursing. In 2019, she was accepted to IUPUI School of Nursing to pursue a nurse practitioner degree. When I think about a Riley nurse, Stephanie was the epitome of that.”
Amy Pottenger said her sister, who passed away from cancer in 2020, had “a very big heart,” and professional development was important to her. “I’m so grateful this award exists, not only to honor her, but to give this opportunity to somebody else.”
Brittany Gaskins Award winner: Kailey Potts, 9E. The award is given in memory of an interventional radiology nurse to a nurse with less than 18 months’ experience.
Daisy Nurse Leader Award winner: Amy Birchfield, nursing practice. Other nominees: Ashley Ford, 3W cardiac stepdown; Angie Jennings, PICU; and Sara Murff, 8W.
Daisy Team Award winner: Nursing practice team. Also nominated was the 9W team.
Distinguished Nurse Excellence Pinning: Jamie Haddix.
Riley Children’s Foundation Scholarships: Julia Burgess, cardiac stepdown, pursuing pediatric nurse practitioner degree; Jennifer Engleman, pursuing doctorate in nursing practice; Laura Koke, nursing practice, pursuing master’s in nursing leadership; Brittany Peacock, emergency department, bachelor’s in nursing; Sarah Rhoads, Maternity Tower NICU, doctorate in nursing practice; Laura Smith, Simon Family Tower NICU, bachelor’s in nursing; Kailey Potts, 9E, doctorate in nursing practice; Shelby Nation, 3W, pediatric nurse practitioner.
Partner in Care Award winner: Mackenzie Fahey, Quality & Safety. Also nominated: Tammy Allen, 8W; Madeline Baxter, 3W Heart Center; Annie Byrd, Developmental Medicine; Julia Dugan-Ochoa, Labor & Delivery; Naticha English, PICU; William Flores-Cisnero, Infusion Clinic; Bri Havis, 9E; Janet Hill, Hem-Onc Infusion Clinic; Ruth Johnson, PICU; Kevin Marshall, Maternity Tower NICU; Riley Prewitt, 9E; Jaime Redkey, Infection Prevention; Katherine Stroke, 9E; Jada Thomas, Infusion Clinic; Claire Thompson, 9E.
Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org