Safety heroes get their chance to shine



Riley Safety Awards

Riley nurses and pharmacists are honored for their dedication to the safety of patients, families and team members.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer,

Riley Children’s Health kicked off National Patient Safety Awareness Week early Monday with an awards program to recognize safety heroes within the hospital.

Members of Riley’s Safety Advocate Council, representing individual focus areas, presented five awards to team members who have kept patient, family and team member safety top of mind while working to enhance protocols and education.

Riley Safety Awards

The Safety HeRO Award from the High Reliability Organization work group recognized 5W nurse Kathleen Head for going above and beyond to ensure a safe environment for all.

Head exemplifies the definition of a safety hero, the nominator wrote, prioritizing the safety of her patients, family members and fellow team members. That focus is demonstrated not only in her role as a bedside nurse but also in her role as a Spanish educator for the cancer center, improving language access across the hospital.

Others nominated for the award were: Brittany Fehrer, 7W nurse; Karl Myers, inpatient rehab nurse; Jackie Whitney, 3W CTUS; Lexi Brookshire, respiratory therapist; Brooke Garvin, 7W nurse; Julie Parks, 5W nurse; and Mary Ann Gillette, Maternal Fetal Medicine.

The HeRO work group was founded in 2021 to promote a culture where it’s easy to do the right thing and impossible to do the wrong thing at Riley, said Bri Logston, quality and safety team member. “In 2023, our focus was creating psychological safety in the workplace. The permission to speak up initiative is the start of our journey to promote a culture that supports a questioning attitude.”

Team Member Safety workgroup co-chair Jen Harker, a nurse on 5W, explained how her group focuses on initiatives that can help keep team members safe at work. That includes coordinating a multidisciplinary committee to work on improved orientation and initiatives that better train team members when they encounter patients who have the potential to become combative or harm others.

Riley Safety Awards

Matt Roehrig, whose home base is the PICU but who currently works on the ECMO team, was recognized with the Team Member Safety Award for quickly reacting to a behavioral alert in a patient’s room.

“He was so calm in a chaotic situation and took over my role to ensure my safety,” said the nominator. “He was calm, supportive and empathetic and did a great job advocating for patient and staff safety.”

For Roehrig, who has been at Riley since he was in nursing school in 2008, the hospital is his home.

“The patients are the main reason we all come here,” he said after the program. “I feel fortunate to be able to help care for these patients and appreciate the opportunity to work here and be part of this team.”

Other nominees: Kristin Buchheit, RT; and Austin Edens, EMT in the ED.

PICU nurse Kaylyn Gray (who was unable to attend the awards program) received the Error Prevention Award for her use of error prevention techniques, asking questions, advocacy, education and closed-loop communication. Other nominees: Lisa Rhodes, radiology technologist; Carol Hayden, 5W NPA; Nicole Wilson, stem cell nurse; and Zach Howe, pharmacy.

Riley Safety Awards

Pharmacists Katie Hughes and Meghan Benczik received the Medication Safety Award for focusing on safe practices throughout the medication process (prescribing, administering and monitoring). “In the ICU, there are hundreds of medications each day to be delivered to our patients,” the nominator said. The two are a “huge asset” to the ICU team. “They are engaged and invested in the medication practices of the nurses and the physicians. We would be lost without them.”

Other nominees: Margo Pok, 9W nurse; Kelly Elliott, 5W nurse; PICU mentor group; Ally Williams, pharmacy.

Riley Safety Awards

Jenna Yarnell, manager of the Child Life team and co-leader of the Safety Advocate Council, introduced the winner of the Safety Leader Award, Alyssa Tennison, OB ICU nurse, recognizing her as a team member whose work ethic and passion ensure that patient and team member safety are a priority.

Tennison is a member of the emergency response team in the Maternity Tower who identified a need and helped create a more reliable supply of accessible emergency supplies. She was honored for her “proactive and collaborative thinking, integrity, leadership, attention to detail, problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability.”

Other nominees: Dr. Meghan Drayton Jackson, hematology-oncology; Marissa Barnhart, ED nurse; Kaylee Shirrell, 8W nurse; Bryan Nietzel, facilities technician; Kathleen Osborn, inpatient rehab program manager; Phyllis Paquette, RT; Ally Kenneally and Brooke Bates, pharmacy; Sam Engdahl, pharmacy.

A safety fair will be held from noon to 2 p.m. today (Wednesday) in the atrium of the Maternity Tower.

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,