Beyond the Bedside

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UPMC Nurses’ Impact on the Communities We Serve

By Carrie Stevenson

Community service is at the core of UPMC’s mission, and nowhere is this commitment better exemplified than through the community projects and leadership positions of UPMC nurses. Our nurses care deeply about the communities they serve – the people, places, and organizations that make western Pennsylvania great. UPMC nurses take their care and compassion beyond the bedside out into their communities, to help, to heal, and to lead. 

UPMC nursing has a system-wide professional practice and nursing inclusion councils dedicated to both driving quality patient care and supporting community service projects. The members support local organizations through volunteerism, donations, and other initiatives. UPMC nurses strive to bring awareness to health, safety, and wellness initiatives. These are just a few of their stories:

Motivated by childhood memories of carefree fun at summer camp, 16 nurses at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC partnered with respiratory therapists, physicians, social workers, and the Woodlands Foundation to create Camp INSPIRE – a weeklong summer camp for children living with ventilators and tracheotomies. “As a PICU nurse, I tend to see kids at their worst. They are sick and miserable,” says Ann Miller, RN, BSN, of Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. “Camp INSPIRE allowed me to see these children as they usually are: happy, imaginative, funny, and playful.” Camp INSPIRE reminds the nurses why they chose their profession in the first place – to make a lasting difference in the lives they touch.

A few years ago, UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing decided to take an innovative approach to the clinical experience in their maternal-child nursing course. Nursing instructors wanted to work with children and families in a community setting, and to emphasize health maintenance and promotion. They partnered with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School, and in the fall of 2012, nursing students started working with the school nurse, teachers, and young students within the Charter School setting. “The experience is designed to build the nursing students’ knowledge of an inner-city pediatric population and to identify health care needs,” says Sandy Lake, RN, MS, Shadyside School of Nursing. 

In 2010, rates of homicide in Wilkinsburg soared to some of the highest Pennsylvania. In response, health care professionals joined others in the community to create the Sanctuary Project, a group that aims to make Wilkinsburg a safer place. Sanctuary Project members Gwen Talkish, RN, UPMC Mercy, and Rick Cokely, outreach coordinator, Addison Behavioral Care, created a violence prevention strategy called When Critical Seconds Count to prevent injuries related to violence and trauma among youth, and to share tips on what to do in a crisis. “So far, approximately 300 children have completed the program, and 50 received CPR certifications through the American Heart Association,” Talkish says. Youth are safer and better prepared for a crisis after the program, demonstrating how bringing health care skills and knowledge into the community prevents future violence and drives positive change.

In addition to influencing community health and wellness, our nurses give back professionally by serving in leadership roles with several esteemed health care organizations. We are proud of the UPMC nurses recently appointed to leadership roles, including:

Maribeth McLaughlin, RN, BSN, MPM, chief nursing officer, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, serves as the current president of the Council of Women’s and Infant’s Specialty Hospitals (CWISH). Driven to facilitate excellence in providing health care services to women and infants, CWISH member hospitals collaborate and share information about programs, practices and national policy.

Natalie Cercone, BSN, RN, CPHON, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, currently serves as the president of the Greater Pittsburgh Three Rivers Chapter of the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses (APHON). The organization was created for nurses to exchange information and share advice in their unique role caring for children with cancer. 

Susan Hoolahan, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer, UPMC Passavant, began her one-year tenure as president of the Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (PONL) in January 2014. PONL drives excellence in nursing leadership, particularly in shaping healthy communities. 

Michele Ondeck, RN, Med, IBCLC, LCCE, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, proudly serves as president of Lamaze International’s Board of Directors. The mission of Lamaze is to “promote, support, and protect natural, safe, and healthy birth through education and advocacy.”

Patricia L. Giampa, RN, BSN, MPM, CHPQ, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, serves as president of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (SWPONL), a group committed to excellence in the practice of nursing leadership.

Pam Cupec, RN, UPMC Passavant, serves as president of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses, a 6,100 member organization.

Tammy Flemming, MSN, ACNP-BC, serves as president of the American Society of Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN), a national group of nurses with a focus on pain management.