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Northwell Health honors top employees with president’s awards


Northwell Health employees from Cohen Children's Medical Center, Huntington Hospital, Concierge Pharmacy Services, Monter Cancer Center and Vivo Pharmacy earned President's Awards in recognition of their outstanding service to the health system.

Northwell President and CEO Michael J. Dowling began the President's Award tradition in 2007 to honor individuals and teams who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, compassionate care and dedicated service. A committee of Northwell senior leaders and local and national leaders recognized for service excellence selected winners in three categories: exceptional patient experience, teamwork and innovation.

Shawna Vernisie, a creative arts therapist at Cohen Children's Medical Center, was named the 2017 President's Award for Exceptional Patient/Customer Experience. She was recognized for her ability to combine her passion for the creative arts with her dedication to young patients and their families. Along with her Child Life colleagues, Ms. Vernisie created a music video that uses patients' heartbeats as the tempo – a song of inspiration created by the children themselves. This is one small part of the music volunteer program, Musical Hands and Hearts, which Ms. Vernisie helped to develop.

That creative energy can be traced back to Ms. Vernisie's birth – she spent her first month of life in a neonatal intensive care unit. "My parents were not able to hold me during that time, so they decided to sing to me," she said. "The idea of using music as a therapeutic tool for comfort has never left me."

In recognition of her many contributions, Ms. Vernisie was awarded a $10,000 check, an all-expense-paid cruise to a destination of her choice and a crystal award.

The President's Award for Innovation was given to the Pain Bundle Oncology Unit 1 North team at Huntington Hospital. Understanding the excruciating pain brought on by cancer, they began work on a "bundle" effort. This multi-faceted initiative begins with the Nightingale phone, (specially created by the team), allowing patients to speed-dial their nurses directly, thereby streamlining communication and accelerating response times. Another feature of the plan was conceived by two bedside nurses who created a new way to reassess and address patients' pain by using portable, multi-alarm timers that are stored on medication carts. The final aspect of the effort calls for the generation of automated reports when patients identify their pain scores as higher than "six."

Huntington Hospital has since shared the Nightingale technology with mother/baby, labor and delivery, medical-surgical and orthopedic units, as well as with other Northwell Health hospitals. Overall, the innovative "bundle" effort has demonstrated significant improvement in pain management and communications among nurses.

The four-member Pain Bundle Oncology Unit 1 North at Huntington Hospital team, led by Marie Roggenkamp, RN, nurse manager of the oncology unit, was awarded $10,000 to be divided among the team and crystal awards for their innovation.

The President's Award for Teamwork was presented to the Northwell Health Cancer Institute's Concierge Pharmacy Services at Monter Cancer Center and the health system's Vivo Pharmacy for improving patient access to specialty oral cancer drugs. The Concierge Pharmacy Services team recognized a pattern of lengthy wait-times for patients who needed authorization to receive specialty oral cancer drugs. To address this concern, the team created a more patient-centered method for dispensing medications.

The team of clinicians, pharmacists, pharmacy benefits coordinators and administrators created a concierge service, expediting the authorization process via the Vivo Pharmacy in the Center for Advanced Medicine. Since opening in December 2015, the Concierge Pharmacy Service has saved patients nearly $2 million in co-pay assistance, foundation assistance and free medications. In recognition of the team's efforts, the team will be receiving $10,000 to be split among the team members and crystal awards.

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State's largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, over 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. We care for more than two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and 3,900 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We're making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Alexandra Zendrian
[email protected]

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