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Five Stellar SLVH Nurses Nominated for 2022 Nightingale Award

February 28, 2022, Alamosa, Colorado

San Luis Valley Health is proud that five of its nurses have been nominated for the 2022 Valley Nightingale Luminary Award. Local and professional individuals, as well as co-workers and employers, may nominate a nurse for the Nightingale Luminary Award through letters of support that are submitted prior to the award ceremony, which was held at Adams State on Friday, February 25, 2022.

SLV Health Nominees from L to R below are Tandra Dunn, Brittany Sours, Loriann Blakeman, Joelle Valdez, and Bryan Garcia.

group of nominees from slvh

The keynote speaker for the evening was Emelin Martinez, FNP, Medical Director, Valley-Wide Health Systems. The 2021-2022 SLV Nightingale committee members are Monica Hinds, Virginia Jordan, Charlotte Ledonne, Helen Lester, Angie Medina, and Brenda Schnaderbeck.

The outstanding SLV Health luminary awards went to Joelle Valdez and Bryan Garcia, who will be entered as nominees for the state award! The statewide Nightingale ceremony will be held in August.

Bryan and Joelle
Brittany Sours received a hand-painted plate and flower arrangement from the committee for special recognition!

Below are some excerpts from the SLV Health nomination letters.

Tandra Dunn, ADN, RN, Nurse Informatics Specialist; Tandra has a curious creative mind that allows nursing at San Luis Valley Health to quickly adapt to our ever-changing health care environment. Tandra has been instrumental in building, implementing, and adapting SLV Health’s new electronic health record to meet the needs of nursing staff, leadership, and patients.

Bryan Garcia, RN, BSN, House Supervisor; Bryan demonstrates excellence in his role as House Supervisor and shares this value within his influence. Patient care and safety are the focus of his efforts. Like the pioneer Florence Nightingale, Bryan helped to establish the role of House Supervisor at SLVH and has since helped mature it. Bryan’s leadership and commitment have given life to this new role within SLVH, now revered as essential.

Brittany Sours, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Staff Development, Professional Dev Specialist; Brittany was instrumental in developing a professional practice structure for SLVH and has motivated nursing staff under her leadership to participate in this process. The impact of her advocacy has enabled a better understanding of the professional practice and a direct improvement in patient outcomes. The nursing environment within the facility has also seen positive change, despite the current nationwide issues with nursing fatigue and burnout. Brittany exhibits positive behavior in all circumstances and at all times, as well as caring and compassion to staff members as she mentors them to achieve goals toward better patient care.

Joelle Valdez, ADN, RN, Conejos County Hospital; Joelle epitomizes the spirit of the Florence Nightingale award. She is selfless in her actions and continuously advocates for her patients and co-workers. She has a “can do” attitude enabling her to push her patients to new milestones, while maintaining an engaging and often humorous connection with her patients and their families. She leads by example and pushes her team to be the best they can be. She drives positive morale. She initiates quality improvement projects and challenges her team to perform to the best of their abilities. Joelle has a distinct way of connecting with her patients and their families that makes them feel as if they are being cared for by one of their own. She is honest, direct, and straightforward forward which makes her patients appreciate her even more.

Lauriann Blakeman, BSN, RN, ICU, Regional Medical Center; Although Lauriann works in an "unofficial" leadership role, she has acted as the clear leader for the ICU nurses for many years. Lauriann is the calm, collected, and experienced leader of the SLVRMC ICU unit which has become the COVID unit for the entire valley. Throughout the pandemic, Lauriann has faced the unknown using her prior nursing experience to guide her decision-making and lead the entire team in the COVID response. The other ICU nurses have found solace in Lauriann's knowledge and expertise throughout the pandemic. While never setting out to do so specifically, Lauriann has taken the ICU/COVID unit nurses "under her wing" and helped them realize and embrace their skill in caring for critically ill patients. This skill set has been absolutely essential in the COVID response, especially when fatigue started to set in. Lauriann leads by example and sets the standard that all nurses hope to reach. Her exceptional patient care proves her competence and her calm demeanor in doing so creates an environment where all nurses feel safe to ask for guidance. Lauriann does everything that she does with compassion and a desire to teach which fosters a "safe space" for all who are blessed to work alongside her.

Pictured above are the 2022 Nominees from the SLV. L to R: Bryan Garcia, Nicole Martinez, Brittany Sours, Tandra Dunn, Dana Martin, Joelle Valdez, Loriann Blakeman, and Shannon Goldberg. Not pictured: Sally Wert. Nominees not present were Bev Strnad, Loretta Lowder, and Krystnn Cano.

For the entire San Luis Valley, there were 12 outstanding nurses who were nominated. Besides the SLVH employees mentioned above, the other nominees were Krystynn Cano, Shannon Goldsberry, Loretta Lowder, Nicole Martinez, and Sally Wert from Rio Grande Hospital. Dana Martin was nominated from the Alamosa School District, and Beverly Strnad was nominated from Alamosa County Public Health.
Three nurses received hand-painted plates bearing the SLV original artwork along with a beautiful flower arrangement. The committee chooses these recipients based on information that was in their nomination that stood out and is sometimes separate from the eligibility to advance on to the state event. The 2022 plate winners were Loretta Lowder, Beverly Strnad, and Brittany Sours.
Congratulations to the Nightingale Luminaries going on to Denver:
• Joelle Valdez- Clinical Leadership
• Dana Martin- Clinical Advocacy
• Krystynn Cano- Clinical Innovation
• Beverly Strnad- Administration Leadership
• Shannon Goldsberry- Administration Advocacy
• Bryan Garcia- Administration Innovation
In summary, to celebrate these outstanding nurses is to also celebrate the nursing profession. According to a January 2022 Gallup poll, at 81% approval from the public, Americans have deemed nurses to be the most honest and ethical professionals in the country for the 20th straight year.

Each nominee received a luminary representing Florence Nightingale, a pin, and a certificate.