Kurlat Essence of Nursing Honorees
Melissa Hawes, MSN, RN, PCCN
Braunwald Tower 10BA, Medical Intermediate Care
The next generation of nurses is in good hands with Melissa Hawes, MSN, RN, PCCN, serving as a preceptor and clinical nursing instructor, say her colleagues on the Tower 10BA Nursing Practice Council.
“Melissa is an outstanding nurse and a true mentor for both experienced and newly licensed nurses,” wrote Practice Council members in their nomination of Hawes. “She leads by example, collaborates with multiple disciplines and focuses on outcome measures, all while maintaining a therapeutic relationship with her patients and their families.”
Hawes is frequently chosen as a preceptor for new nurses.
“New nurses often identify Melissa as a nurse they would like to emulate as they continue to grow their practice,” wrote Linda Delaporta, MSN, RN, nursing director, in a letter of support. “These nurses respect her for her skills, but it is her presence they hope to achieve.”
Bianca Iafrate, BSN, RN, recalls the way Hawes handled a challenging patient and family scenario while serving as Iafrate’s preceptor. “Melissa’s number one priority was to be an advocate for the patient,” Iafrate wrote. “She communicated with the family in a compassionate, empathetic way and did everything she could to ensure the patient received the best care.”
Hawes previously served as chair of the Practice Council, which was charged with developing and implementing an education plan for staff on the Falls TIPS. After implementation, falls on the unit decreased dramatically, and the research project was published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, with Hawes as one of the authors.
“Melissa is a lifelong learner who consistently seeks to expand her knowledge and practice,” wrote Delaporta. “The rapport she builds with patients often leads to improved outcomes.”
She recalled when a patient knocked on her door one day to tell her about the care that Hawes provided. “He essentially told me that Melissa saved his life with her kindness at a time when he was depressed about his diagnosis,” she said. “Melissa was able to connect with him and empathize in a meaningful way.”
Hawes began at the Brigham as a patient care assistant on Braunwald Tower 14CD before becoming a staff nurse. She received her master’s degree in nursing education from Framingham State University and her bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University. She also serves as an adjunct clinical nursing instructor at Northeastern University.
Vedna Heywood, RN
Burn, Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Braunwald Tower 8CD
Vedna Heywood, RN, is known for her devotion to providing exemplary care to all patients and families, especially those suffering from violence.
As former co-director of Tower 8CD’s Nursing Practice Council, Heywood focused on redesigning the unit’s visitor guidelines for the protection of these patients.
“Vedna’s perspective changed the conversation. Instead of looking at why the patient came to the hospital, we look at them for who they are — a patient who needs our care and a safe, nonjudgmental environment,” wrote Nursing Director Diane Tsitos, MSN, RN, in a letter of support. “Vedna’s guiding principle is support and advocacy
for those in need, an attribute essential to the art and science of nursing.”
In Heywood’s clinical narrative, she wrote about supporting the loved ones of a victim of violence she never had the opportunity to care for because the patient passed away before arriving on the unit.
“On this particular day, interpretation of lab values, knowledge of progression of symptomatology or medications weren’t necessary,” she wrote. “The family needed the core elements of nursing: care, connection and empathy.”
Rahsaan Peters, advocate for the Brigham’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP), wrote about the way that Heywood supported the grieving family. “Vedna was instrumental in helping VRP with coordinating services for this family to receive the terrible news,” he shared in a letter of support. “The team assembled around the family with compassion and empathy.”
Redesigning visitor guidelines was one of Heywood’s most noteworthy accomplishments while leading the Practice Council; the other was revamping the council itself.
“Vedna exemplified authentic nursing leadership at its best when she took over what had become a stagnant council,” wrote Taryn Chase, BSN, RN, CCRN, who nominated Heywood. “Not willing to accept the status quo, Vedna came with a plan.”
That included adopting a vision, formal roles for members and goal-based initiatives for the council. The structure Heywood implemented remains in place even after she left the council to focus on other areas.
Outside of the hospital, Heywood is passionate about contributing to her community as a member of various committees and organizations. These include election to the Plymouth School Committee and serving as a volunteer group leader for Hope Floats, speaking to parents who have experienced peri-natal loss or the loss of a young child. She also helped to implement the first public school district training of Stop the Bleed in Massachusetts.
Before coming to the Brigham in 2008, Heywood was a charge nurse at Broward General Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She graduated from Broward College.
Laura Spinney, BSN, RN, CCRN
Medical Intensive Care Unit, Braunwald Tower 3BC
Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) staff and leaders have innumerable examples of the compassionate, relationship-based care that Laura Spinney, BSN, RN, CCRN, provides to patients and their loved ones. There was the Halloween party she planned so that a patient could celebrate with her children. And the time that Spinney coordinated a wedding in the MICU for a patient’s daughter so the patient could witness the ceremony. There are also examples of quieter moments, such as the days that Spinney spent helping a dying patient write cards to be given to her children as they grow up.
“Throughout 13 years of nursing, I have learned a lot about myself,” wrote Spinney in a clinical narrative reflecting upon her practice. “I know that I need to learn something about the person in the bed, before they were a patient. There are patients I always think about because they are just as much a part of my story as I was theirs.”
Nursing Director Hasna Hakim, DNP, RN, CCRN, who nominated Spinney for the award, says that she is frequently assigned to care for patients with the most complex clinical and emotional needs and those who are nearing the end of life because of the trusting relationships she forms with them.
“I have seen families leave the bedside to go home for the first time in days, simply because Laura was assigned to care for their loved one,” said colleague Jessie Brain, MSN, FNP-C, RN, CCRN, in a letter of support. “Families know she will be watching over the patient every minute, all while anticipating and managing each need and change in condition that might occur.”
Spinney is also known for the support she provides to colleagues. “If another patient becomes unstable on the unit, Laura is always the first to walk into the room and selflessly and proficiently assist in the care of the patient,” noted Brain.
Jennifer Bartell, RN, said that Spinney is highly respected by all team members. “In her interactions with patients, families, physicians, team members and peers, Laura’s approach is always one of professionalism: caring with kindness, compassion and inclusivity,” she wrote in a letter of support. “Her knowledge of critical care nursing in a dynamic environment is only surpassed by her understanding of the human condition and the subtleties therein.”
Spinney joined the MICU in 2008 after two years in the Intermediate General Medicine Unit. She earned her BSN from Boston College.
Maureen Tapper, MSN, RN, PCCN
Thoracic Intermediate and Surgical Care, Braunwald Tower 11ABD
What can I do to guide patients and families along their journey while caring for them?”
Maureen Tapper, MSN, RN, PCCN, always asks herself this question when she begins caring for a new patient and family. To answer it, she strives to understand their lives prior to hospitalization, the barriers they are facing and what is most important to them.
For one patient having a difficult time, she found a new way to begin developing a relationship and motivating the patient to engage in the plan of care. Tapper offered to bring the patient a favorite kind of candy, which turned out to be the key to forming a bond and improving the patient’s experience.
“Maureen’s consistent practice of intentional caring consciousness and relationship-based care provides her patients with not only human care essentials, but also with wholeness and the feeling that they are not alone in their fight,” wrote Rebecca LaMay, BSN, RN, who nominated Tapper.
Tapper is known among her colleagues for going above and beyond for her patients and their families.
“She is a comforting presence during a stressful and uncertain time for many families,” wrote Meghan Harrington, BSN, RN, in a letter of support. “She is an educator, taking the extra time to make sure her patients and their family members understand their care. She goes to great lengths to ensure they are prepared with the knowledge to care for themselves when they are discharged.”
Tapper, who serves as a nurse-in-charge, also goes to great lengths to assist nurses on the unit when needed.
“I know that when I work with Maureen, I have great support,” wrote Danielle Tiernan, RN. “She always offers to help, and her colleagues trust her judgment. Her compassion for her patients and their families is truly amazing, and she leaves a lasting impression on those she cares for.”
Tapper joined the Brigham in 2004 and has worked to improve care through the creation of staff education programs, including a lung transplant class for nurses on the unit and a pressure ulcer prevention program for nurses and patient care assistants.
“Maureen guides other nurses to build their practice around outcomes-focused measures by educating them about lesser-known aspects of documentation that enhance patient care,” LaMay wrote.
Tapper earned her master’s degree in nursing education from Framingham State College and her bachelor’s in nursing from Emmanuel College.