UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital nursing team wins award for excellence


The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nursing team at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital has earned a gold Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

A Beacon Award is a three-year designation recognizing nursing units that meet stringent criteria consistent with other well-respected honors. These include Magnet recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award. The Pediatric ICU achievement brings UF Health Shands’ total to six current Beacon Awards — three gold, two silver and a bronze.

“The nursing profession holds the Beacon Award among the most respected and celebrated awards for exceptional patient care,” said Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, vice president for nursing and patient services and chief nursing officer at UF Health Shands Hospital. “We’re proud of the Pediatric ICU nursing staff for earning top-level gold recognition. It reflects their focus on quality outcomes, the highest standards of nursing practice and their shared commitment to serve young patients and families.”

The Beacon Award for Excellence also identifies healthy work environments that recognize unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s guidelines. Winning teams meet criteria for leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development; and evidence-based practices and processes.

Missy Reynolds, M.S.N., R.N., NE-BC, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Pediatric ICU nurse manager, said, “The lay public doesn’t always understand why we choose to work with sick children. They perceive it to be hard, sad or tragic. While that is true at times, we understand that even though it is physically and emotionally taxing, the work is also filled with wonder, innocence and possibility. The gold Beacon Award is a marvelous affirmation of the PICU team’s commitment to make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families.”

UF Health Shands has more than 2,900 nurses practicing in hospitals and outpatient programs across Gainesville. They have achieved three consecutive Magnet designations from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a recognition attained by less than 7 percent of U.S. hospitals and just 426 hospitals worldwide. In addition to providing patient care, UF Health Shands Hospital nurses are also involved in robust clinical research, including 36 current studies.

UF Health Shands Hospital currently has five additional nursing units with active Beacon Awards for Excellence: the Cardiac ICU (gold), the Trauma/Lung Transplant Unit (gold), the Medical ICU (silver), the Neuro ICU (silver) and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (bronze).

“The foundation of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is based on the quality, compassionate care we provide for our patients and families. Meeting the designated standards set for the gold Beacon Award is what the PICU team does on a daily basis,” said Dave Hudson, M.S.N., R.N., NEA-BC, UF Health Shands Hospital Nursing and Patient Services associate vice president. “We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team.”

UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez said, “The news of this award follows our May celebrations for National Nurses Week, and it reinforces the high caliber of our skilled and experienced nursing staff. Our nurses continually receive national recognition for exceptional clinical results. The care and attention they provide every day is at the heart of our patients’ experience.”

With a combined 996 licensed beds, UF Health Shands Hospital’s Gainesville facilities include UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. It also operates the health system’s two specialty hospitals, UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital and UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital. The Jacksonville campus includes UF Health Jacksonville, with 695 licensed beds.

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