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Iredell Health System Honors Top Nurses

Hospital news | Friday, September 29, 2017
Ken Sauser, CRNA; Sarah Martin, RN; Karen Parks, RN; Shelia Shuford, BSN, RN

(Pictured from left to right: Ken Sauser, CRNA; Sarah Martin, RN; Karen Parks, RN; Shelia Shuford, BSN, RN)

Iredell Health System (IHS) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Nursing Excellence awards. The four honorees work tirelessly to provide the best care for patients while serving as leaders and mentors to their peers. Whether at work or in their communities, these nurses embody the Iredell Health System mission to inspire wellbeing.

"Each year as part of Nurses Week, IHS takes the opportunity to recognize the nursing staff for their important role in the care of our patients and community," said Becky Quate, Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services for Iredell Health System. "The selected nurses are chosen based on their integrity, contribution to patient care and the profession of nursing and their role in providing care based on nursing research and evidence based practice."

Putting Patients First: Sarah Martin, RN

"Every patient deserves to be treated with kindness and respect regardless of their life circumstances," said Sarah Martin, a nurse specially trained to care for patients who are on life support or who need close cardiac monitoring.

Martin has shown quiet confidence during critical situations, taking swift action when she noticed a patient showing signs of a stroke. Her colleagues say she is a reassuring presence when she works as a charge nurse, calling her "dependable, reliable, honest, and compassionate." They also say she is a role model for patient-centered care, taking extra time to listen closely to her patients to help identify any concerns or fears.

"While listening, she also searches for positives, finding the good even in negative situations," noted one of Martin's colleagues. "This provides extra support and encouragement for patients and families."

Serving Country and Community: Karen Parks, RN

From her time in the military, to her position as a charge nurse in The Birth Place at Iredell Memorial Hospital, Karen Parks, RN, has proven herself to be a leader, committed to helping those around her be their best. Parks came to Iredell Memorial after serving as a Medical Officer, Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force and earning the Air Force Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service. For 18 years she has provided compassionate, expert care for mothers and babies at The Birth Place at Iredell Memorial. She also has established herself as a mentor among colleagues, spearheading educational efforts for her peers and researching projects to improve the standard of nursing. One colleague described Parks as "an outstanding nurse who possesses strength, integrity and stellar character evident in every aspect of her nursing career."

A Passion for Education: Ken Sauser, CRNA

As a high schooler, Ken Sauser decided he wanted to be a nurse because he wanted to make a difference in people's lives. Now he is achieving that goal as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Iredell Memorial, a champion for nursing education, and as an active volunteer in the community. Sauser is the ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) coordinator for the hospital, ensuring that other instructors meet nationally-recognized guidelines. He also mentors nursing and nurse anesthetist students and is an innovator of new tools to increase efficiency and safety. "

We must always remain patient-centered and give them the best care possible – period, end of discussion," said Sauser.

Outside the hospital, Sauser volunteers with programs that focus on providing education and medical treatment for children in troubled parts of the world. He has been a Boy Scout leader since 2001, aiming to inspire other young men to enter the profession of nursing.

Driven to Create Change: Sheila Shuford, BSN, RN

As Sheila Shuford, BSN, RN, sees it, growth is necessary for change. She is committed to growing as a nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) at Iredell Memorial, achieving numerous certifications. She has put her extensive training to use by creating the Critical Care Preceptor program at Iredell Memorial, helping newer nurses to learn from more experienced ones. She also created a training scenario to help other nurses learn the correct response in a particular life-threatening scenario.

"I am driven to create change and I put my heart and soul into making nursing safer for patients," Shuford said.

While her primary role is the direct care of patients, Shuford has taken on leadership roles of clinical coordinator, educator and assistant nurse manager. She also sets a positive example in her personal life, mentoring youth, teaching bible study and raising money for worthy causes.