Wellstar Health System wrapped up a weeklong celebration of its healthcare heroes during National Healthcare Week and National Nurses Week honoring team members for their selfless service, sacrifices, and dedication amid the pandemic. Wellstar team members were also recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta Business Chronicle for outstanding work and serving their communities with compassion and excellence.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s 16th Annual Celebrating Nurses Awards honored four Wellstar nurses, including selecting Vicky Hogue, chief nursing officer at Wellstar Paulding Hospital, as the Nurse Leadership Award recipient. Hogue will celebrate 41 years with Wellstar in August and her background includes working as a critical care and ICU nurse. When the pandemic began, she said that the crisis was exactly what she and her fellow nurses have trained for — answering the call to care for the community. In addition to nursing leadership, Hogue was highlighted for serving as a nurse advocate at the local, state, and national levels, volunteering to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and providing unwavering support for team members. Given annually to an outstanding nurse director, Hogue was chosen from 47 nominees to receive the Nurse Leadership Award.
Additional honorees included:
• Clayton Fowler, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital: A registered nurse for 11 years, Fowler helped to care for some of Wellstar’s sickest ICU patients during the height of the pandemic. In March 2020, Wellstar Kennestone was converted to take care of critical COVID-19 patients, and Fowler served on the frontlines providing life-saving therapies, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment.
• Laurie Pazda, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital: A veteran nurse with more than 20 years of service, Pazda works in the cardiac intensive care unit and helped provide care for intubated COVID-19 patients designated to negative pressure rooms.
• Laura Moss, Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital: Moss became a registered nurse in 2019 and immediately started a career of service by providing compassionate care to Wellstar patients. During the pandemic, Moss served as an extended family member to many COVID patients and helped the family of one intubated COVID-19 patient communicate with distant family members by setting up nightly FaceTime visits.
Wellstar held systemwide Nurses Week award celebrations, events, and activities to congratulate honorees and thank Wellstar team members for their dedication and resiliency throughout the pandemic. The Wellstar Nursing Excellence Awards spotlighted nurses at each hospital nominated by their peers for elevating the field of nursing and enhancing the health and well-being of patients. Employees also shared “Videos of Gratitude” showing appreciation for fellow team members.
Three Wellstar team members were also announced as finalists in Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2021 “Healthcare Heroes” Awards, including two in the Nurse category and one in the Community Outreach category. The finalists are Vicky Hogue (chief nursing officer, Wellstar Paulding Hospital), Nadine Lynch (ICU unit manager, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital) and Dr. Shara Wesley (assistant vice president, Community Health and Wellstar Center for Health Equity). The awards acknowledge “the outstanding work on the frontlines” of the COVID-19 pandemic during an “exceptional year,” and winners will be announced on May 28.