NH Magazine set to honor state’s best nurses

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Manchester VA Medical Center’s Catherine Oliver will be one of the award recipients. Photo/Kendall J. Bush

Manchester (NH) — New Hampshire Magazine will honor the recipients of its 2021 Excellence in Nursing Awards during a virtual ceremony from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on May 20. This year, nurses in 13 vital specialties — such as pediatrics, education and public health — will be recognized. Recipients include nurses from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, NH Covid Alliance Senior Support Team, Manchester VA Medical Center, Granite VNA, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, Concord Hospital and Elliot Hospital. To register for the free ceremony, visit www.nhmagazine.com/excellence-in-nursing.

“The Excellence in Nursing Awards bring light to how critical nursing is to achieving comprehensive health care,” said Rick Broussard, Editor of New Hampshire Magazine. “Nurses go above and beyond to comfort, heal and educate patients and their families, but their contributions often go unrecognized. It’s a pleasure to honor New Hampshire’s remarkable nurses each year.”

In partnership with the New Hampshire Nurses Association, New Hampshire Magazine launched the Excellence in Nursing Awards in 2018 to honor the unsung heroes of the state’s health care community. This year’s nominations included several new categories to honor nurses in New Hampshire, including Front Line/Administrative Nursing Leader, Senior Nurse Leader, and separating a category that was previously combined, Nurse Educator and Nurse Researcher. 

2021 Excellence in Nursing Award Recipients

Jillian C. Belmont, DNP, FNP, AGACNP, SCRN 
Lead Associate Provider, Neurology (Advanced Practice Nursing, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Lebanon)

Jillian Belmont started her career in 2008 as a bedside nurse. She continued working full-time while pursuing a master’s degree and family nurse practitioner certification, kickstarting her career as a neurology NP in 2012 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. In 2017, she received a doctorate in nursing practice from Northeastern University. A year later, she obtained her adult geriatric and acute care NP certification. Now she works as a neurology nurse practitioner and serves as co-director of DHMC’s neurology Advanced Practice Provider post-graduate fellowship, president of the local American Association of Neuroscience Nursing chapter and president of the New Hampshire Nurse Practitioner Association. Though Belmont’s years of education and professional growth speak to a strong work ethic and desire to always learn more, she says that the most important skills for someone in her field are “compassion, respect and resilience.”

Lisa Wesinger, RN, BSN, OCN, BMTCN
Blood and Marrow Nurse Navigator (Ambulatory Care Nursing, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center – Norris Cotton Cancer Center)

Lisa Wesinger spent the first 21 years of her career working as a hematology special care nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. In 2019, she transitioned to the blood and marrow transplant clinic team, working as a blood and marrow/transplant cellular therapy nurse navigator. Her responsibilities include guiding patients and their families through the complexities of stem cell transplant and CAR T-cell therapy. Although it’s never easy to watch people undergo such arduous medical battles, Wesinger’s patients “inspire me each and every day,” she says. “Patients facing a cancer diagnosis need to be strong and stay strong. Every day they deal with the uncertainty of what the next day brings. We provide hope and fight right along with them.”

John Flynn, RN, BSN 
Cath/EP Clinical Critical Care Nurse (Cardiovascular Nursing, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center)

John Flynn is a cardiology nurse in the cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Heart & Vascular Center, where he’s worked since 2005. “In our cath lab, emergent team care is delivered in seconds, every day, with clear team roles. The healing outcomes are the combination of our kindness to each other and the reverence to needing each other,” he says. Each week, Flynn also teaches both adult and child advanced life support classes with members of the DHMC team. Before working in the field of cardiology, he was a nurse at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD).

Janet Carroll, RN, CEN, SANE-A, SANE-P 
Nurse Manager – Forensic Nursing Program (Emergency Nursing, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center)

Janet Carroll has worked as a registered nurse for 21 years, primarily in the emergency department. She began specializing in forensic nursing in 2005, and currently works in that field, providing specialized medical forensic care to patients who have experienced acts of violent crime such as sexual assault, physical assault, strangulation, gunshot wounds, domestic violence, human trafficking and more. In addition to her work at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Carroll works part-time with the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She is co-director for the New Hampshire Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE), a group of nurses who are trained to provide comprehensive care to sexual assault survivors, including conducting forensic evidence collection.

Judith Joy, PhD, RN
(Front Line/Administrative Nursing Leader, NH Covid Alliance Senior Support Team)

For Judith Joy, working in elder care is both challenging and fulfilling, especially during COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, she was recruited to be the statewide lead for the NH COVID Alliance Senior Support team, a multidisciplinary remote team that supports senior care facilities. Joy and her team recruited volunteers from groups such as the New Hampshire Nurses and School Nurses associations, and together monitored facilities daily in an effort to reduce outbreaks. The success of the program can be attributed to the diverse experience of the volunteers, says Joy — but strong leadership is crucial as well. Listening, she says, is one of the essential qualities for any leadership role. “Listening supports effective decisions, helping to determine when and from whom to seek input,” she says.

Catherine Oliver, BSN, RN
(Hospice-Palliative Care and/or Gerontologic Nursing, Manchester VA Medical Center)

Catherine Oliver’s first job as a nursing assistant at the New Hampshire State Hospital was the kind that tests the resolve of new nurses, often leading them to pursue other careers — but not Oliver. She joined the military, went to school and graduated from New Hampshire Technical Institute in 1999, and started working for the VA Medical Center, where she has remained in the same unit for over 20 years serving rehab veterans and veterans at end of life. You need patience and compassion as a nurse, but you also need a sense of humor, she says. “Humor and making someone laugh are great ways to accomplish that. Our veterans and families are happy because the staff here have improved their lives for the better, from the simple task of cutting their hair to providing exceptional end-of-life care. We smile because they do.”

Jayme Cutter, BSN, RN
Maternal Child Health/Pediatric Nurse (Maternal-Child Health Nursing, Granite VNA)

As a pediatric nurse, Cutter provides skilled nursing care in the home to maternal child health parents. “I do new mom and baby visits, IV therapy, chemo, assessments of infants and children, and anything else that you can think of that relates to nursing,” she says. “I also coordinate community resources and work with area agencies on a regular basis. I provide support and education to families regarding medical diagnoses and infant growth and development.” Cutter has devoted her life and career to caring for women and children. During her career, she’s learned that there isn’t any single key to success. “Compassion, integrity and honesty are all vital to providing excellent care to families,” she says. “The families that I serve are at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. They may be welcoming a new baby into the home and trying to adapt or they may be facing the death of a child and need guidance and support.”

Erin St. Gelais, BSN, RN-BC, CPAN
(Medical Surgical Nursing, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital)

Erin St. Gelais started working as a registered nurse at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in 2005 and joined the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) team in 2012, where she cares for patients recovering from anesthetics. Working in a PACU requires flexibility, compassion and critical thinking, says St. Gelais. “You never know what will come through the door, how a person will wake up, what their recovery will be or what their needs are,” she says. “You have to learn to anticipate needs and critically think your way through cases. And like any nursing discipline, it takes a lot of compassion.”   

Jennifer Pletcher, MPH, BS, RN, CEN, PhD Candidate
Stroke Program Manager and ED educator (Nurse Educator/Researcher, Concord Hospital)

Jennifer Pletcher works both clinically and as an educator in the ER at Concord Hospital, collects data to evaluate the hospital’s stroke care process, and is working on her dissertation, which is focused on ER visits exacerbated by substance use disorder and how nurses can help navigate this increasingly complicated situation. For Pletcher, education, research and making evidenced-based changes are how the health care system will improve to better serve patients no matter their circumstances. Throughout her career, she’s traveled the country and witnessed the disparities that exist in health care.

Jennifer Krueger, BSN, RN, CPN
Resource Nurse (Pediatric & School Nursing, Elliot Hospital)

After finishing nursing school in 2013, Jennifer Krueger spent time in the float pool at Elliot Hospital, working in various units. While she’s grateful for the wide range of skills she gathered along the way, when she arrived in the pediatric unit, she knew her floating days were done. “My patients are what make me strive for excellence in nursing,” says Krueger, who is now the resource nurse on the pediatric unit, meaning she’s usually the charge nurse and is a part of the leadership team, helping her coworkers with their patients and managing the unit during her shifts. No one wants to find themselves in a hospital, but it can be extra overwhelming and frightening for children. Luckily, Krueger understands what kids need. “I feel that patience is an extremely important characteristic for nurses in pediatrics,” she says.

Evie Stacy, MS, APRN
Children/Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing,
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic)

Like many health care providers, Evie Stacy felt the impact of the pandemic. As a pediatric nurse practitioner and child/adolescent psychiatric nurse practitioner in the Embedded Psychiatry Department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester, she’s helped young people deal with a scary new world. “Life has been turned upside down with the loss of routine and the lack of social interactions with peers,” says Stacy. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, she says, as “families are struggling with loss of jobs, financial stress or parents trying to work from home. Remote schooling presents significant challenges as well, and it causes increases in anxiety for all members of the family.”

Polly Campion, MS, RN, Former State Representative
(Public Health Nursing)

Polly Campion’s interest in public health began with a stint as a VISTA volunteer assisting a nurse practitioner and a mobile medical van with well-child exams in rural Vermont. Or maybe it began with her mom, who was a lifelong public health nurse, “always seeking to connect community members with resources,” recalls Campion. After a career detour into elementary education, Campion returned to nursing to work for 24 years at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and to serve four years as a NH state legislator. This last role, along with roles in organizations such as the NH Health Care Quality Assurance Commission, where she was the inaugural chair, have allowed her to perform the most important single skill of a public health specialist: “Advocacy,” she says. Campion currently chairs the NH State Commission on Aging and participates in the COVID-19 Senior Support Team as regional coordinator. And she continues, above all, to advocate for patients, groups and the greater Granite State.

Margaret Georgia, MBA, BSN, RN, CCM
Director of Care Management (Senior Nursing Leader, Dartmouth-Hitchcock)

As director of care management for Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Margaret Georgia, by definition, plays a critical role in the care given to patients, but like everything during the past year of pandemic, the stakes have increased. Georgia, who has been a nurse for over 40 years, oversees the department that is responsible for care coordination and discharge planning. Facilitating communications between patients, families and teams of health care providers internally and out in the community requires strong critical thinking skills to solve the problems that pop up in hospital settings. “You have to be organized and able to juggle many things at the same time,” says Georgia. “Above all, you have to have integrity and be a patient advocate,” she says, and especially in a time when the role of a patient’s family is more of a challenge due to quarantine restrictions.

The 2021 Excellence in Nursing Awards are sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (Presenting Sponsor), Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, Granite State College and Rivier University.

Recipients will be featured in the June 2021 issue of New Hampshire Magazine.

About this Author

nathan-graziano

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com