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05-14-04, 10:56 AM
Secretary Honors Exceptional Nurses

WASHINGTON (May 11, 2004) -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J.
Principi announced recipients of his annual nursing awards for the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The awardees were honored in a
ceremony inWashington, D.C.

"VA nurses are there for veterans every minute of every day, with the high
quality care that veterans deserve," said Secretary Principi. "While these
award winners make their difficult work look effortless, the veterans and
coworkers around them see, and benefit from, their devotion."

This year's recipients are Mary Withers, R.N., Central Texas Veterans Health
Care System, registered nurse award; Helen Noel, Ph.D., advanced practice
registered nurse, VA Connecticut Health Care System, expanded role nurse
award; Philip Cotroneo, licensed practical nurse, Lebanon (Pa.) VA Medical
Center, licensed practical nurse award; Debra Warren, NA, Dayton (Ohio) VA
Medical Center, nursing assistant award; George H. Gray Jr., director,
Central Arkansas Veterans' Healthcare System, director's award; and Sandra
K. Janzen, R.N., Tampa (Fla.) VA Medical Center, nurse executive award.

VA has one of the largest nursing staffs of any health care system in the
world. Numbering nearly 58,000 nationwide, the VA nursing team - composed
of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, vocational nurses and
nursing assistants - provides comprehensive and compassionate care to the
nation's veterans, helping them to maintain or regain health and to learn to
live with disabilities.

Secretary's Award for Excellence in Nursing 2004

Mary Withers, R.N., Central Texas (Waco)

After identifying an increased trend in assaults, both patient-to-patient
and patient-to-staff, she initiated and led an interdisciplinary assault
task force. As a result, assault rates decreased significantly. As the
hazardous materials coordinator, she has served on the safe patient handling
and movement committee, conducting a time and motion study that resulted in
body mechanics training. She chaired the interdisciplinary restraint
reduction committee on her unit, resulting in a decrease in restraint usage.
She has supported the geriatrics and extended care strategic action plan to
aid patients and has contributed to a variety of technical and
administrative programs.

Helen Noel, Ph.D., APRN, West Haven, Connecticut

Helen Noel works as an advanced practice registered nurse assigned to
primary care. She is also a member of the human studies subcommittee, a
clinical researcher and a courtesy faculty member for the Yale University
Graduate Nurse Practitioner Program. Noel has been recognized for her
outstanding work in implementing one of the first home telehealth programs
for VA. Through home telehealth, patients can send information by phone for
their health care providers to review and provide timely intervention.
Telehealth can help prevent exacerbation of illness, hospitalization and
long-term care. Noel continues to function as a nurse practitioner in the
Compensation & Pension Office, along with providing primary care for urgent

Philip Cotroneo, L.P.N., Lebanon, Pa.

Cotroneo is a retired Air Force sergeant, having served for 20 years. He
has worked as a licensed practical nurse at the Lebanon (Pa.) VA Medical
Center's medical-surgical unit since April 2001. Cotroneo's greeting to
each veteran or visitor, "How can I help you, my friend?," has become a

Debra Warren, NA, Dayton, Ohio

Warren, a nursing assistant, is recognized for her efficient care and by her
enthusiasm and joy. She encourages a cohesive therapeutic environment,
giving assistance wherever it is needed. For veterans in hospice, she
offers special personalized care.

George H. Gray Jr., Director, Central Arkansas (Little Rock)

Gray's efforts have resulted in his facility being the first to allocate and
operationalize Advance Practice Nurses as clinical support. The patient
safety practitioners' program has made a major impact in fall prevention and
restraint reduction. He has emphasized upward mobility programs, decreased
the nurse vacancy rate and retained quality nurses. He is overseeing the
planning and construction vital to the growth of the facility -- projects to
foster expanded and streamlined patient care services.

Sandra K. Janzen, R.N., Nurse Executive, Tampa, Fla.

Janzen serves as the VISN 8 nurse liaison, chairs the utilization management
committee and the patient service workgroup. She is on the executive
leadership board and health systems committee. Under her leadership, the
James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital became the 29th organization worldwide and
the only VA health care facility to achieve Magnet Status. She now serves
as an inter-VA and VA-Department of Defense consultant on the Magnet
application process. Janzen has been a pioneer of innovative technology,
including telehealth-telemedicine projects. She chairs a group responsible
for developing the VA-wide database of nursing sensitive quality indicators.