The Critical Care Unit at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital (LIJVS) has earned the Gold Beacon Award for excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). The gold level is the highest achievement of the Beacon Award for Excellence. The award recognizes individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every part of the patient experience and achieving optimal outcomes.
LIJVS nurses for many months during the pandemic likened working on the medical floor to a war zone. Critical care nurses went through an emotionally strenuous time combating the Covid pandemic that raged through the community. They learned to put on a strong face and everyday reset their morale to do their jobs and provide empathy for those in their care. Their utmost best during the last three years was acknowledged by the medical world, earning them the Gold Award excellence in care.
Isabel Law, director of patient care services, said there were many late nights where tough conversations had to be made with patients suffering from Covid. “We had to be honest with the families while giving updates and some of those conversations were very difficult. Families asked, ‘Was my daughter going to make it?’ ‘Is my husband going to make it?’ And we couldn’t say yes. We kept saying to them we were there for them,” Law said.
Law remembers when she saw another nurse break down after seeing a 32-year-old die. The nurse “then remembered why she was there and regained her composure and went back to care for patients… it was devastating because we have never seen it before. It was like a war zone,” Law recalled.
“We knew every night it was going to be a challenge” said Claudia Mautino, a registered nurse. “But we had a lot of support from each other. Our leaders allowed time to reset.” What kept them going was the thought of serving the community. “We knew we were helping our community, so we knew we had to step in, and the community also supported us: they brought us food and care packages.”
Winning the Gold Beacon Award requires a high level of staff engagement and patient experience, which the critical care nurses outshined in during such unprecedented times. “We would facetime family members, especially at night, because any time someone comes to the unit. They’re so scared. It’s a scary moment for anyone,” Mautino said. The humanity brought into critical and often tragic conditions is what elevated the hospital from a Bronze Beacon Award to Gold, Mautino explained.
The team of nurses would boost optimism around the workplace by bringing in coffee, tea and other goodies like candy and chocolate. They also learned the value in celebrating life — hosting celebrations when patients recovered from Covid after being brought to the brink. “The award is a great honor to our team; all our hard work has been shown and continues our journey because we want to serve our community and achieve more,” Mautino concluded.
“Achieving the Gold Beacon Award, validates the nursing excellence we have here at the hospital,” said Terry Pando, RN, chief nursing officer, LIJ Valley Stream. “Our nurses are committed to providing the highest level of patient-centered care every day. This award acknowledges that level of care. On behalf of our nurses, we are proud to receive this prestigious honor, because it’s truly a reflection of the hard work and care they deliver in the intensive care and critical care units.”
To be eligible for the Beacon Award, LIJVS’s critical care unit had to meet specific criteria in the areas of leadership, staffing and staff engagement, effective communication, knowledge management, learning development, evidence-based practice and processes, and outcome management care to patients. The unit received a multi-level peer-reviewed evaluation, followed by a comprehensive feedback report.
“We are excited to achieve the Gold level Beacon Award for excellence in nursing here at LIJ Valley Stream,” said Jason Tan, executive director of the hospital. “This is an important recognition that demonstrates the shared vision of our nursing staff, which is always to provide the best possible care for every patient.”