North Mountain CVICU Earns Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence

Beacon Award for Excellence

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital has earned a silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence in Critical Care from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), according to Susan Snyder, RN, MBA, CCRN, clinical director of the CVICU.

The AACN created the Beacon Award to recognize individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of patient care. The silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence earned by the CVICU signifies continuous learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care.

The CVICU at JCL earned its silver award, Snyder said, by meeting the following evidence-based Beacon Award criteria:

  • Leadership Structures and Systems: Reward and recognition, interdepartmental relationship building and effective strategic planning for growth and continual improvement were key among these programs.
  • Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement: RN-to-patient ratios were balanced by providing highly educated and competent nurses at the bedside to ensure patient safety and effective care.
  • Effective Communication, Knowledge Management, Learning and Development, Best Practices: Collegial relationships between physicians and nurses promote effective communication regarding patient care. The unit also employs educators and clinical nurse specialists who continually evaluate and work to improve the quality of health care provided in the CVICU.
  • Evidence-Based Practice and Processes: These infuse the newest information and technology into practice on the units through ongoing staff education, training and development and the use of rapid process improvement.
  • Patient Outcomes: These consistently exceed national benchmarks.

"The nurses in the CVICU here form a top-notch team," Snyder said. "They have a heart for the patient, and they continually strive to provide excellent care. This unit truly deserves to be recognized with this award."

"As the CVICU medical director," said interventional cardiologist Gary Kauffman, MD, FACC, "I am so very proud to be part of such a wonderful group of hard-working, dedicated personnel who exemplify the very best in high-quality care for their patients."

The CVICU won its first Beacon Award for Excellence — a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and a healthy work environment — in 2010 under the leadership of Robbi Johnson, RN, MSN, CCRN, who then was clinical director of CVICU and the Intensive Care Unit. Johnson, now clinical director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Dialysis at the hospital, led the ICU teams who earned the first Beacon Award in Arizona in 2007 and again in 2009.

"The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes. Units that receive this national recognition serve as a role model to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care," explained AACN President Kathryn E. Roberts, RN, MSN, CNS, CCRN, CCNS.

"Congratulations to the staff of North Mountain's CVICU. Great job everyone!" said Rhonda Forsyth, president and CEO of John C. Lincoln Health Network."

About North Mountain Hospital

North Mountain Hospital is part of John C. Lincoln Health Network, an organization of hospitals, health care facilities and community programs in North Phoenix dedicated to high-quality patient care, medical education and human services. North Mountain has been recognized by experts for the quality of both its health care delivery and its business practices.

About the Beacon Award

Established in 2003, the Beacon Award for Excellence offers a road map to help guide exceptional care through improved outcomes and greater overall patient satisfaction. U.S. or Canadian units where patients receive their principal nursing care after hospital admission qualify for this excellence award. Units that receive the Beacon Award for Excellence meet criteria in six categories: leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development and best practices; evidence-based practice and processes; and patient outcomes. To learn more, visit

About the AACN

Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN joins together the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and claims more than 240 chapters worldwide. The organization's vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. To learn more about AACN, visit

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