Durham VA Cardiac Unit Among the Best in the Nation - Durham VA Health Care System
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Durham VA Health Care System

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Durham VA Cardiac Unit Among the Best in the Nation

about a dozen members of the nursing team stand with leadership and an award plaque

Some of the dedicated nurses from the Durham VA Cardiac Intensive Care Unit stand with Leadership after being awarded a designation from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses as a Silver Level, Beacon Award for Excellence winner.

By Pete Tillman, Durham VA Public Affairs
Thursday, May 9, 2013

The journey began many months ago and the work will continue for many more. However, the collective commitment of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at the Durham VA Medical Center just got a major shot in the arm, earning a monumental achievement in the process. The CICU was recently awarded a designation from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) as a Silver Level, Beacon Award for Excellence winner.

The Beacon Award for Excellence provides complex health care organizations with the guidance and tools to assist critical care units realize their vision for excellence. Durham VA Medical Center is now one of only four medical centers in the entire VA health care system (that’s right 1 of only 4!) holding this coveted  honor. The national award was created by AACN to recognize individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every facet of patient care, including patient outcomes and greater overall satisfaction.

It is clear the effects of the journey to excellence have taken shape. There is a more positive work environment, new support among colleagues and leadership, and enhanced moral in the CICU. All of this aims to improve patient care and the satisfaction of those we are privileged to serve, our Veteran patients.

“The journey is not easy, but it is one worth the effort because the overall winner is our patients. Veterans can see that we take pride in what we do; pride in caring for them and this has lead to both increased patient and staff satisfaction,” said Som Chaleunvong, CICU Nurse and Beacon Journey Champion. “There is no end to our journey, we are striving to be the best, to be excellent, because our patients deserve it,” he continued.

The external validation from the AACN is meaningful. “This accomplishment represents one of many significant milestones on your unit's journey to optimal outcomes and exceptional patient care,” the AACN wrote in a statement of congratulations. The Beacon Award for Excellence criteria include: Leadership Structures and Systems, Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement, Effective Communication, Knowledge Management and Best Practices, Evidence-based Practice and Processes, and Patient Outcomes.

The extraordinary efforts of Donna Kovalick, Nurse Manger of the CICU, as well as her outstanding nursing team in the CICU made this award possible. Like an athlete stepping off the podium after winning a silver medal at the Olympics, Ms. Kovalick said “we look forward to 2016 when we can bring home the gold.” The journey has begun, the work is being done, and the future of patient care in the CICU looks as bright as it can be.

Chaleunvong and Kovalick will represent the Durham VA Medical Center CICU when they travel to the AACN National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition on May 20th to be honored at a special Beacon recognition session. Congratulations CICU team, you earned it.


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