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National three-year silver award recognizes exceptional patient care, healthy workplace

The Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) at Stony Brook University Heart Institute has earned the silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). Stony Brook is one of only eight hospitals in New York State that have units with the Beacon designation.

Established in 2003, the Beacon Award offers a road map to help guide exceptional care. According to the AACN, criteria for the three-year award and its gold, silver and bronze designations are consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

"When a patient needs heart surgery, choosing a hospital with a Beacon Award designation lets the patient know that they will be cared for by a team that meets or exceeds the highest standards of excellence in the critical care environment," said Margaret Duffy, MS, RN, NEA-BC, Interim Chief Nursing Officer at Stony Brook University Hospital.

"Units that receive this national recognition serve as a role model to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care," said AACN President Kathryn E. Roberts, RN, MSN, CNS, CCRN, CCNS.

Stony Brook CTICU Nurse Clinician Jennifer Falvey, RN, spearheaded the nine-month application process to seek Beacon recognition together with Magnet Coordinator and Program Director Patricia Bockino, RN, who recently retired. CTICU Nurse Manager Susan Cunneen, RN, joined the unit in April 2012 and helped with the last push toward completion of the process. Criteria had to be met in six categories: leadership structure and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication; knowledge management, learning and development and best practices; evidence-based practice and processes; and patient outcomes.

"Achieving the Beacon Award involved close collaboration between staff and leadership -- a collaboration typical of our CTICU," said Duffy.

Stony Brook's 10-bed CTICU takes care of approximately 500 cardiothoracic surgery patients each year in the 24- to 48-hour postoperative period following open heart, valve replacement, vascular or ventricular assist device (VAD) surgery. Patients receive a high level of care from a multidisciplinary team of 28 nurses, four nurses' aides, a nursing station clerk, a unit educator, physician assistants, respiratory therapists and physical therapists in addition to Stony Brook's team of renowned cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons.

"We're a cohesive group," said Falvey. "We have a strong, unit-based leadership style where staff is included in the decision making process."

"Achieving optimal patient care requires that you have demonstrably effective systems in place," said Cunneen. "The Beacon Award is a sign of the excellence that the CTICU delivers every day."

About Stony Brook University Heart Institute
Stony Brook University Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island's premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes 50 full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as 350 specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, operating room technicians, perfusionists and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.
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