Second Critical Care Unit at North Mountain Hospital Receives Beacon Award for Patient Care Excellence

Peoria great-grandmother Dot Custance didn't know that the nurses who were taking care of her after her heart bypass surgery had won yet another honor for patient care quality for John C. Lincoln. She just knew they'd taken great care of her husband a few months previously and she wanted that kind of hospital care herself.

In one of those cosmic ironies, she not only got the same nurses, she got the exact same hospital room where her husband, retired U.S. Navy submarine veteran Bill, had recovered last March from surgery to repair two huge aortic aneurysms.

So they were thrilled — but not surprised — to learn that the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital has been honored with a Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence® from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the largest specialty nursing organization in the world.

Beacon Award Hospitals in Phoenix, Arizona
Mandy Neblett, RN, a member of the John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit nursing team that compiled documentation that earned a Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, checks on patient Dot Custance while Dot's husband, Bill, looks on.

North Mountain: Two Critical Care Units with Beacon Awards

In earning the Beacon, the Cardiovascular Unit joins its sister unit, North Mountain's Intensive Care Unit, which in 2007 became the first in the state to earn a Beacon Award. North Mountain is now the only medical facility in the state where two critical care units have qualified for the Beacon, which was specifically designed by AACN to recognize the nation's top hospital critical care units.

Since the Beacon Award was instituted in 2003, it only has been given to an elite 315 of the nation's 6,000-plus critical care units. Not only was North Mountain's ICU the first in Arizona to receive the Beacon Award, but it was first to be granted the Beacon for a second time.

Extensive Criteria for Award

Critical care units that receive the Beacon Award have exhibited high-quality standards, including exceptional care of patients and their families, as well as healthy work environments. A winning unit must provide documentation demonstrating it meets 42 criteria in six categories. Criteria include:

  • Innovation and excellence in recruitment and retention.
  • Education, training and mentoring.
  • Evidence-based practice and research.
  • Patient outcomes.
  • Creating and promoting a healing environment.
  • Leadership and organizational ethics.

According to the co-directors of the CVICU, Susan Hopf, RN, and Robbi Johnson, RN, a team of 17 nursing staff members from the CVICU, led by Vidette Villareal-Argente, RN, worked hard for almost a year to complete the documentation for this award.

"It's exciting to be recognized at a national level for all the hard work and excellent care we provide," Hopf said. Johnson added, "What makes us special is our team approach, the collaborative atmosphere we have built, and our commitment to our patients and their families."

"Hard-Working, Dedicated Personnel"

"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."

John C. Lincoln 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.

"North Mountain, the first hospital in the Valley to earn Magnet redesignation from the American Nurses Association for the top quality of its patient care, is proud to be the state's first hospital with two critical care units honored with the AACN Beacon Award for critical care excellence," said Susan Kelley, RN, vice president for Patient Care at North Mountain.

Nurses: Advocates for Patients

More than 50 registered nurses in the hospital's CVICU care for critically ill cardiac and postsurgical patients. On a daily basis, nurses facilitate and coordinate the plan of care for patients and families in collaboration with the health care team.

"It is so important in any critical care area," Hopf said, "that nurses support the family, keep them informed and show them the compassion they feel, because often the unexpected has happened. Our nurses act as advocates for their patients, placing themselves alongside the families."

"Our nurses do an amazing job in keeping track of all the pieces of the puzzle in order to provide the highest quality of care to our patients," Hopf added. "When you combine experience with advocacy, you can't help but succeed."

John C. Lincoln Health Network CEO Rhonda Forsyth said, "Our nursing leadership and the team members of our critical care departments deserve a standing ovation for their dedication to professional development and superior patient care. We are thrilled to congratulate the CVICU on earning this extraordinary recognition."

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