To be named a Nightingale Award recipient is to be recognized for excellence in nursing.
Developed in 2001 in the New Haven area, the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing program was created to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. It has since grown to celebrate nursing across the state.
Each year, deserving nurses from Connecticut Children’s are nominated by department leaders, who describe how their nominees have made a significant impact in areas such as patient care and nursing mentorship. They also cite examples of how their nominees have gone “beyond the call”; have demonstrated excellence above the norm; shown commitment to the community; and achieved a life-long legacy.
In 2019, 21 nurses from Connecticut Children’s were nominated. Three of those nurses—Milena Frazer, RN; Rosalynn Bravo-Cavoli, APRN; and Irsa Amin, RN—were among those awarded the prestigious honor in the Hartford region.
“One of the things that makes these three nurses so special is that they come from different areas of our organization,” said Cheryl Hoey, Senior Vice President for Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Connecticut Children’s. “They have a high level of expertise, they are great team members and they are leaving a legacy here at Connecticut Children’s,” she said.
What It Means to Be a Nightingale
Milena Frazer, RN
“I was so honored to be chosen as a Nightingale nurse for Connecticut Children’s,” said Milena, who has worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the past 20 years. “I was a preemie when I was born, and to this day, my mother still talks about the kindness my nurse showed to her during that difficult and scary time. I wanted to be able to that for other families, too.”
Nurse Manager Karen Damon Callahan, RN, who nominated her, says Milena is a nurse with exceptional clinical and critical thinking skills, someone who can care for the sickest patient presented to the NICU with ease and confidence.
“When I contemplated my endorsement of Milena, I considered the qualities which Florence Nightingale identified as essential characteristics of the professional nurse, including truthfulness and honesty, integrity, commitment, compassion and optimism,” Karen wrote in her nomination form. “Specifically, Milena is truthful and honest with her approach to the families of our very fragile patient population.”
She is also compassionate. “This is essential when delivering difficult information, or explaining complex interventions to our families, who oftentimes were not expecting a NICU admission as part of the birth of their baby,” Karen said. “I have personally witnessed Milena speak with these families, and I have never in my career viewed a nurse who simultaneously displays the confidence and caring that Milena presents with each family interaction.”
When it comes to going above and beyond the call of duty, Karen noted that Milena goes above and beyond the call each and every day. “Specifically, Milena and her colleague, Amy Ciarlo, in keeping with efforts to improve care of the newborn, led the redesign of the resuscitation rooms adjacent to the Delivery Room (in Hartford Hospital),” she said. “Milena’s efforts have resulted in improved outcomes regarding a reduction in delay of care and more efficient processes.”
Rosalynn Bravo-Cavoli, APRN
For Rosalynn Bravo-Cavoli, who has worked in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine for the past 11 years, being named a Nightingale means feeling respected by her peers and valued by her team. “I’ve been recognized not only for my patient care, but also for my role in mentoring APRN students and my clinical work with students,” she said. “I really enjoy my team and their dedication to helping kids feel better.”
Rosalynn was nominated for the 2019 Nightingale Award by her peers in the Pulmonary Division at Connecticut Children’s and by Craig Schramm, MD, Head of the Division. “Rosalynn Bravo-Cavoli’s warm demeanor and welcoming attitude is a breath of fresh air,” her peers wrote.
Dr. Schramm said that Rosalynn has been a mentor and champion since the beginning of her nursing career. “Her greatest gift,” he said, “is giving back to the underprivileged members of the community. For example, she has helped recruit underprivileged minority students to pursue college education and organized workshops to expose high school students to careers in nursing. In addition, she has volunteered her nursing skills throughout Latin America.”
One example of when Rosalynn went “beyond the call” is when she volunteered to continue running the Sickle Cell Clinic after the primary pulmonologist who had done so relocated to another state. “If Rosalynn hadn’t stepped up, those patients would have been dispersed among the different providers,” Division members said. “With the support of the department head, she single-handedly kept that program going until the department hired a pulmonologist to run the program.”
“Rosalynn’s unselfish personality and her unhesitant willingness to give back to the community and the world are unlike anything I have ever seen,” Dr. Schramm said. “Her lifelong legacy will be realized in the future nurses that she has mentored and inspired. The patients that she has impacted at Connecticut Children’s, and in other parts of the world, will be able to live healthier lives, creating living legacies to her commitment and dedication to the nursing profession.”
Irsa Amin, RN
For Irsa Amin, who is an operating room nurse at Connecticut Children’s, being named a Nightingale Award winner highlights the positive impact that her hard work and dedication have had on patient care.
“Being named a Nightingale Award winner highlights all the hard work and support I have received from those in my life and has helped positively influence those I care for—and that means everything to me,” said Irsa, who has worked at Connecticut Children’s for the past seven years.
“Connecticut Children’s focuses on more than just the basic needs of its patients; the hospital supports the practice of going above and beyond,” she added. “All of our employees exemplify what it means to be one team united to help care for patients and their families.”
Lisa Wolfson, RN, Irsa’s previous nurse manager, nominated her for the 2019 Nightingale Award. She cited the work Irsa has done as Service Lead for the Divisions of Neurosurgery and Craniofacial as having made a significant impact on patient care. “Irsa organized supplies and equipment, made educational materials for staff to reference and utilize to become more confident in their skill and ability in neurosurgical cases,” Lisa wrote.
In addition, Irsa created and prepared Malignant Hypertension educational presentations for OR staff, PICU staff and Critical Care class. She is also the primary preceptor and coordinator of learning needs for the college-level Capstone students, who are paired with a preceptor in the student’s area of interest. She also participated in a news clip for NBC News on the use of the EASE app in surgery and the impact on the family being able to keep connected with the OR during their child’s surgery.
In going beyond the call, Irsa volunteered to become the co-chair of the Craniofacial Family Advisory Council, tackling the agenda and all responsibilities independently, due to the unexpected departure of the co-chair. She planned, organized and coordinated the “Pie in the Face” event, which raised $2,000 and the 2nd Annual Craniofacial Picnic, which raised $1,200.
“Irsa is invested in the craniofacial community,” Lisa wrote. “Through the use of video, Irsa is opening the doors to potential donors and families in need of treatment or support. She has demonstrated that Connecticut Children’s is a top priority for her family.”
The 2019 Nightingale Award Ceremony for Nightingales in the Hartford region was held at the Connecticut Convention Center on May 9 during National Nurses Week. Nurses can only be nominated once in their lifetime for this award.