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Class Act Awards

September 2022

Cathy AbadCathy Abad, Director Hospital Finance Reporting and Accounting, Finance

“Early on, I quickly noticed Cathy’s eagerness to train and educate others around here. She has demonstrated she is willing to meet with our next staff members and help them grow so that everyone in the organization is successful. I also recall Cathy’s wiliness to serve beyond her current job responsibilities. Overall, I am impressed with Cathy’s desires to question the status quo and identify innovative ways to make everyone’s jobs easier. Cathy is a pleasant person to work with and around. She always has a pleasant disposition despite the challenges, whether it was COVID or the end of fiscal year close. She finds ways of making individuals laugh and smile in every meeting I am in. I am extremely happy to know Cathy and am glad to call her a colleague. Her focus on developing others around her the ideal team player and I have learned to appreciate the value she brings to the UI Hospital, UI Health, and UIC overall.” – Dale Rush

“Cathy’s role places her as a key member of the Hospital Finance team and as the lead person responsible for all financial reporting. At the beginning of COVID, Cathy worked diligently to maintain the integrity and timeliness of the Hospital’s financial statements. In the past year, Cathy worked with and built a strong working relationship with the University’s new external audit firm, improved the financial close process, continued to grow her staff’s knowledge and serves as financial subject matter expert for processes throughout the University, including the College of Pharmacy’s 340b program. Cathy’s willingness to engage with anyone that needs her assistance is incredible. She is always kind, open-minded, and always goes beyond expectations to assist her colleagues with any issues they have. I believe that Cathy is a true example of a leader.” – Judson P Vosburg

Teri Blain

Teri Blain, Senior HR Analyst, HR

“I am pleased to nominate Teri Blain due to her continued exceptional contributions to UI Health’s COIVD-19 response and sustained response. Teri’s consistent service delivery ensures that all staff are advised of COVID related leave options and that the leaves are implemented timely to avoid disruptions in pay. Teri’s institutional knowledge has been leveraged in a manner that provides for creative solutions during this unprecedented time. The Attendance Management team relies heavily on Teri’s extensive collaborative work with stakeholders, focus on compliance, process improvements, and maintaining good customer service to UI Health employees at such a sensitive time. The HR teams also continue to benefit professionally and personally from Teri’s ongoing guidance. Teri has demonstrated the ability to work respectfully with diverse groups and levels of leadership. I believe she has a patient-centered attitude and recognize that her contribution supports employees and the delivery of good patient care.” –Lisa Caridine

“Working through the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 leave policies for UI Health during the pandemic was a herculean task. Throughout these challenges, Teri’s tireless efforts, attention to detail, and dedication provided outstanding service to the University and its healthcare employees.” –Alexandra Relias

“Throughout her efforts in helping the Leave of Absence Team, Teri never failed to excel in her primary role as an HR Analyst on the HR Operations Team. Teri consistently demonstrates world-class customer service to employees, leaders, and executives through her timely transactions and thorough responses and explanations when asked questions regarding employee changes and/or benefits. I have the pleasure of working with Teri daily and throughout the last year have witnessed her gracefully balance all her primary responsibilities, while also supporting other team members within the Human Resources department in times of need or confusion. Teri is quick to provide constructive feedback and consistently puts employee satisfaction at the top of her priorities when participating in workgroups for new workflows and initiatives in the Human Resources department.” –Katie Peters

Award Winner Rosalba Cisneros

Rosalba Cisneros, Departmental Information Supervisor, NRO

“Rosa sets extremely lofty expectations for herself and others within the department. She positively accepts change and in fact, is continuously innovative in her proposal of operational change initiatives. She has excellent follow-through and communication with internal and external customers. She is dependable and accountable for all aspects of department operations. Rosa does NOT shy away from challenges, negatively, or complex issues. In fact, she approached these things with an open mind, a professional and positive attitude, and a “can do” mindset to find solutions. Rosa has been instrumental in identifying processes that keep the patient as the center of focus for all involved. She is creative, innovative, and engaging when it comes to a patient-centered approach to process improvement initiatives in a department that works beyond the scenes in healthcare. Rosa is an informal leader within the department and is consistently looking for opportunities to enhance the services provided by the department to better meet the needs of all customers. On a more personal level, Rosa has been known to acknowledge her co-workers during special days, supporting them during a personal crisis, and celebrate bright spots in her colleagues’ lives. Not only does she genuinely enjoy her job, but she genuinely cares and respects her co-workers.” –Lisa Potts

“She has always had an open-door policy, where anyone can call or ask questions regarding how things are going for their unit. Rosa goes above and beyond to explain, while focusing on the larger global perspective. During the labor shortage, she felt that it was important for her to be at work and staff the units, because the patients come first. I remember Rosa saying, “it is not easy for me to be here, but I need to be, I don’t take care of patients, but I know how much my work impacts the care of patients.” She takes care of her coworkers and in genuinely interested in seeing them succeed and taken care of. Recently in May this year, Rosa drove about an hour from her house to Indiana to surprise and drop off food for a coworker who was ill. Rosa said that was unusual for this coworker and thought that something big is going on and wanted to support her. The coworker was filled with so much joy and said that she felt so much love and was overwhelmed.” –Osei Omoike

Award Winner Pam Crawford

Pam Crawford, Director, Patient Care Services

“Pam works tirelessly to provide quality care to the patients we serve and always embodies a “can do” spirit. While Pam was busy managing the newly opened 5SW Adult Step-Down unit, she remained a vigilant and present leader for 5SE Surgical and 5NE Surgical. Both units are 20-bed-multispecialty units. In September 2021, both units were awarded the prestigious AMSN PRISM Award. PRISM, which stands for Premier Recognition In the Specialty of Med-Surg, is an award co-sponsored by the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) and the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board. The AMSN PRISM Award was presenting to the units for the collective nursing achievements in excellence and exemplary nursing care. 5 East Surgical Services was the first unit in the state of Illinois to earn this achievement and to-date is the only unit to have ever received the award three times. Pam is a humble leader who possesses a wealth of knowledge, is highly respected by her peers, and is most deserving of this award. She makes everyone around her a stronger leader and a better nurse. It is a privilege to work with her.” –Kiana Player

“She is a team player who remains ready to assist at any time in any way possible. Pam pays attention to detail and has excelled in leading her units in quality improvement initiatives. As an example, 5SE Surgical has performed at or above the organizational goal for Nurse Communication as measured by HCAHPS. In 2021, 5Se was acknowledged for achieving 8 of 8 domain at or above the 50thpercentile rank. This is yet another example of her commitment to excellence.” –Manjunath N. Sooranahalli

“In addition to performing her job at an exemplary level, Pam demonstrates compassion and an extraordinary commitment to elevating nursing at UI Health. She has consistently delivered exceptional results within nursing practices and patient experience.” –Charisse Williams

Award Winner Amy Early

Amy Early, Occupational Therapist

Amy is one of the amazing Occupational Therapists on our inpatient psychiatry unit. She is consistently a cheerful, thoughtful, and creative member of our care team whose intuitive and knowledgeable clinical judgment is immensely valued and relied upon to guide patient care. Amy’s adeptness at building rapport with patients who may be the most challenging engage has led to many patient reports of appreciation and gratitude for the therapeutic benefit they obtained through her one-to-one sessions and therapy groups. Individuals leave UI Health with strengthened senses of safety and hope after having worked with Amy on building skills to empower themselves and live meaningful lives outside of the hospital setting. Her positive impact on the lives of UI Health patients extends far beyond hospitalization –it follows them throughout their lifetime.” –Jamie Haley and Surya Sabhapathy

“Amy is a creative problem solver who provides outstanding patient care. Looking back on one patient encounter specifically, it was notable watching Amy supporting a new young girl on our psychiatric unit. This patent was non-verbal with autism and intellectual disability. The patent was aggressive and harming herself due to significant distress and poor ability to regulate. Amy’s warm and empathetic approach appeared to make the young woman feel safe, soften, and be receptive to therapy. Amy’s creative ability to think on the spot led her to turn a stress ball and pillowcase into an impromptu baby doll that the young woman eagerly accepted. This is one mini snapshot of countless times Amy made a connection with patients.” –The Behavioral Health OT Team

“Amy brings a wealth of knowledge for our complex patient population and provides a unique, holistic perspective while also being a resource for the rest of the team. Amy has an extremely specialized skills set to change the lives of our patients and has made significant changes, particularly in our extended stay population. These patients are often seen with less frequency, assumed to be plateaued in their functional performance – yet once Amy is involved in the treatment team, she makes a deeper connection resulting in improvements in performance and independence. Amy recently worked with a young woman admitted with failure to thrive. She was weak and deconditioned from prolonged poor nutrition and difficult to engage in therapy due to chronic impairments including blindness and a developmental delay. Amy found a unique way to motivate the patient, letting her paint Amy’s nails while standing to build strength and challenge her balance. Amy has never brought preconceived notions or judgments upon entering these challenges patient situations and treats everyone with the utmost respect and compassion. She truly sets the standard for client-centered therapy and reinforces how impactful therapy can be while patients are in an intimidating environment and isolated from their loved ones.” –Inpatient Rehab Team

“Amy is a team player. She is often the go-to person to bounce ideas off of and is always there to listen to her coworkers and offer ideas or reassurance. It has been a difficult time to be a healthcare worker due to the pandemic and knowing that Amy is going to be in the office is always a boost for her coworkers.” –Kristen O’Reilly and Megan Kennedy

Award Winner Ivan Moreno

Ivan Moreno, Ophthalmology Technician

“Since the day I met him, Ivan has stood out as being extremely hard working and easy to get along with. He is intellectually curious, always asking questions about the care we provide our patients. He is adaptable to the circumstances that present themselves day to day in the clinic while still maintaining a positive attitude. He has wonderful personal character that makes him a favorite amongst his peers. He is clearly committed to his work and takes pride in going above and beyond.” –Michael J. Heiferman, MD

“Mr. Moreno has been the most dedicated, hardworking, thoughtful, and responsible technician with whom I have had the pleasure to work with since joining the department. He routinely goes out of his way to take on additional clinical responsibilities to provide the utmost excellence in patient care. His work on Retina Service has been consistently recognized as outstanding, and as such, he has been provided with new opportunities, including in ophthalmic photography, to support patient care needs. Despite his strengths, Mr. Moreno remains humble; when offered praise or positive feedback for his efforts in clinic, he uses the opportunity to highlight the work of his co-workers for, to use his own words, he values the importance of ‘being a member of an excellent team.’” –Robert A. Hyde, MD

“He is my go-to ophthalmic technician with regards to refractions, ophthalmic procedures, and photography. Ivan’s examination workups are always very thorough and accurate. He goes beyond the call of duty. He has also learned several new skills since staring his job. This is no small feat. Some full-time photographers have difficulty obtaining the certification he has. He is a role model for other ophthalmic technicians. His example has led others to rise to the occasion. His lead has resulted in other technicians to seek certification for clinical trials. He is a born leader. I have no doubt that he will become a major force on the Retina Service if not a higher level on the Department of Ophthalmology.” –Jennifer I. Lim, M.D., FARVO

Award Winner Devona Redmond

Devona Redmond, Clinical Pathology Lab Supervisor

“Devona joined the Division of Immunohistochemistry and Immunofluorescence/Anatomic pathology, to support the renal biopsy service, which is integral to the care of UI Health patients with kidney disease. In this position she acts as a liaison between nephrology, surgery, interventional radiology, and pathology. She keeps the communication lines open and provides renal biopsy processing in real time to ensure stellar care for our patients. She has been instrumental in creating numerous strategies to keep the service streamlined and running smoothly. Her efficient use of time and resources permits her to deliver patient services in an effective manner. She also collaborates with divisions within Anatomic Pathology to keep services that she is responsible for functioning in a quality and timely fashion. She is someone her colleagues turn to troubleshoot issues in the laboratory. She is happy to learn additional skills and help with services which are understaffed. In doing so she ensures that not only her area but others within Anatomic Pathology keep up with the current standards. She also works on documents and algorithms required by our regulatory agency College of American Pathologists (CAP). She has shared freely of her expertise and has provided cross-training, all to ensure that activities after her shift and off time can be carried out effectively. In all her actions Devona thinks first and foremost about the patient. She uses her education, intuition, and training to ensure that her work is performed to serve the best interests of the patient. If this requires that she works harder or longer than is her given assignment she does not hesitate. I have known her on numerous occasions to cancel vacation days, stay longer or come in even when not completely recovered from illness because she wants to ensure that there is no gap in service. She is a respected colleague and a helping hand in all laboratory activities. She wholeheartedly joins in extracurricular activities which promote understanding among the staff.” –Suman Setty

“As many are aware, the transplant volume at UI Health has grown dramatically in recent months. Devona’s hard work and dedication has proved integral during this as she continues to single-handedly serve these patients, with only minimal backup and assistance. Though this increase does warrant acquiring additional talent, Devona persists without the heavy workload impacting her ability to provide outstanding patient care. In additional to providing excellent patient care and coverage for this critical service, Devona has developed excellent working relationships with her colleagues in Pathology but also across the hospital in the OR and IR. These relationships are crucial to intra and extra departmental teamwork to achieve the synergy needed to provide timely and accurate services for our patients. Devona has also done so much to assist in the absence of a supervisor in other areas of our department. As our search for talent has exceeded a year, I struggle to find the words to express my gratitude for her interest and flexibility to assist in other areas when her plate is already so full. She is truly a priceless asset to our team.” –Emily Krzyminski

Award Winner Ramona Rosa

Ramona Rosa, Medical Records Administrator, HIM

“Within the HIM department, Ramona is highly regarded by her peers and management alike. Ramona is a key resource of a lot of operational and historical information, especially when it comes to information system applications and departmental procedures. During the UI Health transition from Cerner to Epic EHR system, Ramon has had a key role as a supervisor and the principal trainer and preceptor for four newly hired employees. During the pandemic, Ramona was a real trooper. Ramona consistently reported for duty, frequently filling the gaps when others were afflicted with the virus.” –Pamela Kring

“Ramona demonstrates fantastic leadership skills, which is shown consistently every day. Ramona has trained me with the same respect and support regardless of my position. She trains employees according to an individual’s weaknesses and strengths without judgment or frustration. She is very patient with slow learners and does not mind repeating herself multiple times as she wants the individual to fully understand the task at hand. Despite training others, she is not afraid to be trained by us as well. The with complexities of Epic, she is very open to learning new things that can impact and improve the department’s workflow. Also, Ramona is not afraid to admit when she makes mistakes to employees and management as she is always willing to learn from them.” –Tina Ha

Award Winner Javier Sedillo

Javier Sedillo, Senior Quality Specialist, Pathology

“As Javier became more familiar with multiple areas of the laboratory and with his meticulous nature to detail, he naturally became our Quality Specialist. In this role he effortlessly excelled. He became a voice for our patients not just in Pathology, but in all areas of the hospital and clinics that submit to Pathology. This is evident by the fact that most submitting areas know Javier by name. He has become a champion for patient care both inside and outside the laboratory. Nurses and clinicians alike reach out to Javier personally when there are issues or questions regarding a submission for Pathology. With these established relationships, he was the obvious and excellent candidate to become our Principal Trainer for Epic. This built upon his relationships already established across the hospital and even now, several years after Epic Go-Live, Javier continues to be an active participant in the education of nurses, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals the handle and submit specimens to Pathology. His work and efforts to make UI Health a better place for our patients impacts our clinics, hospital units, and our clients. He is both methodical and relentless in his search to resolve issues that are brought to him. Because of this and his kind and understanding nature, he is truly a model health care professional, and I am so happy and proud to call him a team member” –Emily Krzyminski

“Javier started in surgical pathology specimen receiving and processing and has gradually become a vital member of the team and now serves the department as Senior Quality specialist. I have worked on multiple projects with Javier ever since we migrated from Cerner to EPIC as our EMR. He is our go to person for any trouble shooting in specimen processing in pathology. Besides these duties Javier collaborated with other departments in terms of education and training of staff for correct collection and transport of specimens to pathology. The most important project that Javier successfully completed this year is tracking of specimens from various ORs to surgical pathology. Implementation of this project has significant effect on reducing the turnaround time in reporting of these specimens. Javier brings a very positive attitude to his work and is very pleasant to work with. As a result of all this Javier Sedillo has significantly led to improved patient care. Our hospital system is greatly improved, and the patients are receiving better care because of his hard work, creativity, caring nature towards patients and work ethic.” –Vikas Mehta

Jill and Grace with their awards

Jill Stemmerman, ACNO

(Left to Right: Grace Zieba, Jill Stemmerman)
“Jill puts a great amount of effort and quality into everything she does. Under her leadership, our team has been able to navigate a pandemic, a labor strike, a transition to EPIC, and opening of extensions units to accommodate historically high patient census with the we’ve achieved. Under her leadership, the Critical Care Division has done exceptional work for patients, frontline staff, and elevated the organization –Comprehensive Stroke Certification, two BEACON recognized units, level IV Epilepsy Accreditation, a Blue Cross Blue Shield Preferred Spine hospital, a MICU that pioneered a prone team with cutting edge treatment, expanded telemetry monitoring for the entire hospital, a certified and world class Organ Transplant program to just name a few. One of her greatest strengths as a nurse leader is her ability to form personal connection with everyone, from the frontline staff to executives. She is genuine, kind, and invested in her team’s engagement by recognizing their value and contributions. Jill has demonstrated patience, mentorship, and understanding for our challenges and has seen as individuals –with talents, hobbies, and families. Because of the example she sets, we have all at some point felt empowered by her trust in us to continue to preserve the past two years of the pandemic. Jill is the kind of person who gives to give. She took time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and discuss my career goals and my resume. Jill perfectly depicts the characteristic of genuine public service. As I grew as a leader, she showed me how to juggle ups and downs and inspired me to never stop giving. Jill epitomizes servant leadership and inspires others to giveback and pay it forward. As we are both working mothers, Jill and I have spent time talking about our families and navigating the challenges of balancing parenting and professional life. She has opened up to me about her experiences and in doing so, has become an example for me –how to be a strong, female professional and how to set my perspectives realistically so that at the end of the day I can be at peace with what I’ve accomplished.” –Critical Care Division Leaders

“Jill is a highly dedicated, compassionate healthcare professional with years of experience supporting patient treatment programs, staff development, leadership, and efforts to provide the highest quality of care to patients and their families. Never were these attributes more evident than during the recent years as our hospital, and our MICU in particular, had to face the unprecedented challenges that came with caring for our sickest COVID-19 patients through the course of the pandemic. Those of us who were on the very frontlines during this time can attest to the difficulties we faced when COVID patients at one point not only filled the entirety of the 19 bed 6W MICU but filled a large number of the other ICU beds with total COVID ICU patients well over 30 for sustained periods. During this stretch, our resources were extended to their very limits including the availability of beds, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and personnel, none more scare or needed than our ICU nurses themselves. Providers at all levels faced legitimate concerns about both patient and personal safety and Jill personally helped navigate our course through this period as an essential nursing leader who advocated on behalf of all of the MICU nurses but at the same time worked closely with our physician leadership to ensure that we functioned as a cohesive team with the common goal of providing the best care possible for our patients.” –Dr. Jeffrey Jacobson

Award Winner Grace Zieba

Grace Zieba, Director, Patient Care Services

(Left to Right: Grace Zieba, Jill Stemmerman)
“Grace started as a staff nurse in the unit distinguishing herself for her excellent performance, professionality, and empathy to patients and their family. In her role as Unit Director, Grace has been exemplary and extremely successful. She has been able to expand the number of critical care trained nurses to an unprecedented level and contributed to elevating the quality of the transplant unit. Our transplant program has experienced a formidable expansion in the last few years, and I credit Grace for her critical contributions to our success.” –Dr. Enrico Benedetti

“Grace is a very dedicated leader whose work performance is exceptional. Her commitment is evident in her everyday actions, and I feel very fortunate to have Grace as a Director on my team. Grace is very hands on. She listens to her staff and drills down to understand the problem. Her availability and responsiveness ensure them that are being backed up and supported. Grace is a team player and always swilling to support where needed. She has provided leadership coverage to other areas when the need arises. When doing so, the staff are extremely complimentary as she doesn’t just ‘cover’ but supports and problem solves their concerns taking on issues that could wait for the return of the leader. Grace is committed to ensuring a positive patient experience. In her role as Patient Care Director of 7W Organ Transplant, she started the year with 2 out of 8 domains a the 50thpercentile or above. The year-to-date scores are 5 of 8 and in May, the scores were 7 out of 8 domains at the 50thpercentile or above. Most importantly, Grace has a passion for excellence. When she sees something, she says something. Grace does not turn her head; she is committed to doing the right thing. This may mean a crucial conversation with a provider. Grace has courage and she has ‘grace.’ She is an advocate for patients and for staff. She respectfully speaks up and seeks to understand. Grace this for patient safety, staff safety, and overall improvement of the work environment.” –Jill Stemmerman

April 2022

Tomeka Collins

Tomeka Collins

"I would like to recognize Ellen Tillman for really putting in the extra effort to help a patient that was missing items on discharge. Staff from the unit had tried to contact multiple areas the patient had received care to locate his shoes and were unable to find them. The patient was very upset about his shoes being missing, as they were a new pair for him, and he has a hard time finding shoes that fit well. After dropping the patient off in his car, Ellen went to every hospital floor looking for the shoes and found them! She found them on the 6th floor hallway, in a cart. She is a great representation of our UI CARE values. -Frances Luna