Nightingale Award Honors Two ThedaCare Nurses

Two ThedaCare nurses were among seven recipients to recently be honored with the Nightingale Award at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing and its Board of Visitors 20th annual Nightingale Awards Dinner.

The Nightingale Award Program honors registered nurses and licensed practical nurses involved in direct patient care who exemplify the highest standards of nursing practice. In 2012, 23 outstanding nurses from across Wisconsin were nominated to receive the Nightingale Award.

Mary Ann Berrens, a staff nurse in the Ambulatory Surgery area at Appleton Medical Center and New London Family Medical Center, said she is honored to receive the award. “I love my job and couldn't imagine not being a nurse,” said Berrens, who has worked for ThedaCare since 2002.

Dee Fietzer, a nurse in the Ambulatory Care/Outpatient Surgery department of Riverside Medical Center for the past 10 years, agreed. “I am lucky enough to work in a critical access hospital with about 300 of the smartest, most dedicated, most motivated people I know,” she said. “And they really care about making a positive difference in the lives of our patients. So this is not a ‘me’ thing; it's a ‘we’ thing. There is no limit to what can be accomplished when we put our heads and hearts together for the good of the patient.”   

Berrens feels she is just doing her job, one she could not do without the help of co-workers. “I have a wonderful group of co-workers at both facilities which makes it easy to go to work every day,” she said. “I enjoy working with patients of all ages and in all sorts of scenarios. I get to help ease patients’ and families’ fears for what might be one the scariest events in their lives.”

Fietzer agreed. “My goal has always been to make a positive difference in the lives of my patients and co-workers,” she said. “I am thrilled that my co-workers believe I have done, and continue to do, so! That's the real award. The fact that UWO Nightingale Award Recognition Committee thought so too is icing on the cake.”

Jill Case-Wirth, vice president/ chief nursing officer at ThedaCare, said having two nurses recognized speaks to the quality of care offered. “This recognition is representative of the excellence in clinical practice that all ThedaCare nurses embody,” she said. “This award reminds us as the nation grapples with healthcare reform, that no matter how significant the clinical, technological, and imperatives that healthcare faces, the most significant ingredient is the people who care for our patients, families and community.”    

According to Case-Wirth, Florence Nightingale was a British woman, who ministered to the wounded and dying soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850’s. The Nightingale School of Nursing, the first educational training program for nurses, was founded in Great Britain in 1860 and continues to this day – each year the International Nurses Day is celebrated in Ms. Nightingale’s honor.