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Emory University Hospital's Neurosciences ICUs win Beacon Award for excellence in critical care nursing

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Janet Christenbury

Hospital units that receive the Beacon Award for Excellence, a national recognition, serve as role models to other ICU hospital units.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has awarded Emory University Hospital’s Neurosciences Intensive Care Units with a Silver-level Beacon Award for exceptional nursing care through improved patient outcomes, as well as a supportive work environment. 

The Beacon Award for Excellence is a significant milestone for hospital units on the path to outstanding patient care through its nursing programs, while providing healthy work settings for its staff. Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to other ICU hospital units. 

In 2010, the AACN updated the criteria for the Beacon Award to more closely align with the Magnet Recognition Program for nurses and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, by establishing varying levels for the award; bronze, silver and gold. Silver-level recipients demonstrate continuous learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care. 

"Emory University Hospital’s Neurosciences ICUs have been on a journey over the past few years to achieve this level of excellence through great nursing care," says Pam Cosper, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, specialty director of critical care at Emory University Hospital. "This silver-level award just validates our commitment towards providing the best care to our patients and their families."

A team of nurses in Emory’s 2D and 2G ICUs, lead by April Canova, BSN, CNRN, worked tirelessly for months to perfect their skills, enhance their knowledge and improve their care for patients before submitting the Beacon Award application. 

"We formed a Beacon Council, which consisted of 10 staff members, and together we performed a gap analysis and gathered evidence to support our excellence in care and commitment to our patients," says Canova. "This award spotlights the amazing work our neurosciences team has been doing for years."

Hospital units that earn the special designation must meet the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria: leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; evidence-based practice and processes; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development; and outcome measurement. 

"This award acknowledges what I have always known about our staff," says Cindi Reynolds, RN, unit manager for EUH’s Neurosciences ICU. "I am very proud of the quality of nursing, dedication, and sense of teamwork that are present in our unit."

The Beacon Award is a three-year designation. Hospital units must re-apply for the designation at the end of the third year. Just eight hospitals in Georgia, including Emory University Hospital, currently hold a Beacon Award. 

"I am so proud that our Neuroscience ICUs are being recognized with the Beacon Award for the outstanding care they provide to our patients and families," says Becky Provine, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Emory University Hospital. "Much work went into this award application and all staff are so deserving of this award. It is representative of the high level of quality and excellence that is provided in those units and what we aspire to here at Emory University Hospital."

The AACN is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, representing the interests of more than 500,000 nurses who are charged with the responsibility of caring for acutely and critically ill patients. The association is dedicated to providing members with the knowledge and resources necessary to provide optimal care to critically ill patients.

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