Zinnia Feliciano, MS, AGCNS-BC, CNRN, of BWH’s Intermediate Neuroscience Unit, makes it a priority to go the extra mile for all of her patients, no matter how complex their needs.
“Nursing is special,” said Feliciano. “It’s important for me to not only understand each patient in a clinical setting, but also as a person.”
For her knowledge, leadership skills and ability to build connections with patients and their families with grace and ease, Feliciano was chosen as this year’s Essence of Nursing Award recipient.
“Zinnia possesses all of the qualities of compassionate nursing, as she quietly connects with everyone she encounters,” wrote nominator and Nurse Director Mary Pennington, MS, RN.
Feliciano is deeply invested in the physical and emotional well-being of everyone she cares for. She often reflects back on one of her most complex yet rewarding stroke patients. The patient, Mrs. W, who spent more than a year in the Intermediate Neuroscience Unit, taught Feliciano the true meaning of patient-centered care.
“Mrs. W appreciated my patience with her, as well as my ability to anticipate her needs,” she said. “If I was away from BWH for a few days, the next time she would see me, her face would light up.”
With Mrs. W’s complex plan of care and difficulty with verbal communication, Feliciano developed a “Mrs. W reference guide” for staff to use when she wasn’t working. The staff utilized this specific plan of care and shared it with members of the patient’s interprofessional team.
“On the day of transfer, I accompanied her in the ambulance and helped her get settled in her new environment,” she said. “I offered a warm hand-off to the nursing staff and made sure that they had the reference guide, which I carefully updated to offer the best communication for her new interprofessional care team.”
Heidi Doucette, MS, ACCNS-BC, RN, CNRN, clinical nurse educator for Tower 10CD/12B, said Feliciano’s passion for nursing is evident in the manner in which she interacts with patients and their families: “Zinnia lets the knowledge she gains guide her practice. She enters the ‘world of the patient’ to achieve an understanding of what the illness means to the patient and their family members and uses her clinical knowledge and skill to formulate a unique plan of care for that patient.”
As a nurse-in-charge of the unit, Feliciano leads the daily activities of the team and other interprofessional colleagues, and “is viewed by all as an authentic leader who embraces true collaboration and engages herself and staff in addressing outcome-focused measures,” wrote Pennington.
As an individual of Hispanic heritage, Feliciano frequently cares for patients who share her heritage and language, helping her to provide compassionate and culturally attuned care in the patient’s primary language.
In a letter of support, Susan Rodriguez, BSN, RN, CNRN, a fellow nurse-in-charge on Tower 10CD/12B, wrote that when she met Feliciano nine years ago on the unit, she remembers thinking of how she wanted to become a nurse like Feliciano someday. She praised Feliciano for her ability to mentor and push her colleagues to do their best.
“I know with absolute confidence that Zinnia will always be there to provide support and advice,” wrote Rodriguez. “She is approachable, hard-working and a team player.”
Added Pennington: “As a nurse who loves clinical nursing and nursing leadership at the bedside, Zinnia is a unique gift to our staff.”
Feliciano’s passion for nursing began when she was just a child. Born at BWH and just recently having given birth to a baby boy here, she said BWH will always have a place in her heart.
She currently serves on the unit-based nursing council, has achieved certification as a neuroscience registered nurse and holds a Master of Science as an adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist.
Feliciano received her MS from the University of Massachusetts Boston and BSN from Northeastern University. She has worked at BWH since 2005.