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UF Health Shands ICU earns gold Beacon Award for Excellence


Written By: Rossana Passaniti

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit team at UF Health Shands Hospital has earned a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. It is the first ICU team in the state to receive the gold honor this year, and only five gold designations were made to units in Florida.

A gold, silver or bronze Beacon Award is a three-year designation that recognizes teams that meet national criteria consistent with Magnet recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

“The Beacon Award is one of the nursing profession’s most respected awards for outstanding patient care,” said Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, vice president for nursing and patient services and chief nursing officer at UF Health Shands Hospital. “This gold achievement reflects the dedication and superior performance of the Cardiac ICU team in providing the highest standards of heart and vascular care.”

The Beacon Award for Excellence also identifies healthy work environments that recognize unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s guidelines. Winning teams meet evidence-based criteria for leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development; and evidence-based practices and processes.

“Our nurses are committed to quality care, ethical practice and exceptional clinical results. The compassionate service they provide is at the heart of our patient experience,” said Edward Jimenez, UF Health Shands CEO. “The Cardiac ICU team exemplifies our nursing division’s mission of ‘experienced care and expert caring’ here at UF Health Shands.”

UF Health Shands has more than 2,900 nurses practicing in hospitals and outpatient programs across Gainesville. They have achieved three consecutive Magnet designations from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Only 426 hospitals worldwide, and less than 7 percent of U.S. hospitals, have achieved this recognition. In addition to providing patient care, UF Health Shands Hospital nurses are also involved in robust clinical research, including 36 current nursing research studies.

“This award signifies a collaborative and supportive environment in the midst of a very high-acuity population,” said Brian McCain, B.S.N., R.N., CCRN, Cardiac ICU nurse manager. “We have a culture of teamwork and safety as we care for critically ill patients. I’m honored to be part of such a wonderful team.”

McCain also thanked Marcia Kent, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN, former nurse manager of the unit. “Without her dedication and efforts, this award would not have been possible,” he said.

AACN President Karen McQuillan, M.S., R.N., CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN, said the Cardiac ICU caregivers at UF Health Shands Hospital meet and exceed the high standards set forth by the Beacon Award for Excellence.

“The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes,” McQuillan said. “Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.”

UF Health Shands Hospital currently has four additional nursing care units with active Beacon Awards for Excellence: the Trauma/Lung Transplant Unit (gold), the Medical ICU (silver), the Neuro ICU (silver) and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (bronze).

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