Avita Recognizes Outstanding Employees with the 2024 Monarch Award

BUCYRUS/GALION/ONTARIO – Six employees at Avita Health System are being honored with the Monarch Award. This award is presented to employees who make a difference in the patient experience across the continuum by providing excellent and compassionate care.

The 2024 Monarch Award recipients are Jennifer McCracken of Bucyrus Hospital, Heath Stephens of Galion Hospital, Paul Lopez of Ontario Hospital, and a group award to Courtney Gordon, Jordyn Shafer, and Cat Morgan of Ontario Hospital. These employees embody what the Monarch Award represents: Motivating, Optimistic, Nurturing, Adaptable, Respectful, Caring, and Helpful.

The nominator for Jennifer wrote:

Jen is a quiet leader, and I’ve told her this for years. She’s so humble, she just doesn’t realize it. One of Jen’s super-powers is her strong desire to serve. She approaches each patient with a fresh perspective, and she gets to the level of each patient and their families, in an effort to figure out what they need. And patients will tell you, she delivers, every time, in that “platinum level of service” kind of way—you know, “do unto others as they would like to have done unto themselves.” She has this way of making everyone feel at ease—whether it’s her patients or her colleagues. This is the true spirit of Jen, and why she’s so uniquely successful as a therapist. Everyone loves Jen.

Recently there was a specific patient where her talents shone in a way that both motivated a team and gave a patient the best possible outcome. Months later, she tells me that this is her proudest moment as a clinician, reflective of her true love for what she does.

On one particular day, Jen encountered an elderly gentleman patient in Bucyrus who had fallen at home and broke multiple bones through his pelvis. He had a thin, bony frame and lived alone. He was incredibly hard of hearing, and communication was more difficult. His pain was agonizing every time he moved. But we all know, clinicians or not, that immobility in the frail elderly can have seriously negative outcomes. Jen knew this, and her heart broke for this man. She took extra time with him, communicating, reassuring, and trying to ensure that he could move. He was supposed to go home alone, and Jen feared for his future.

The next day, Jen returned to work, and I overhear her telling a therapist teammate about how she couldn’t stop thinking about one certain patient through the evening—she just felt like there was more that needed to be done for him. As her clinical supervisor, she started telling me more about his condition, asking for clinical guidance and collaboration. Jen thought about him all night and tried to pull her resources to see what she might do to help. Drawn to Jen’s compassion for this patient, I wanted to help her, help him. Through this, I saw her true empathy and energy at work.

Jen and I walked through the osteokinematics of the pelvis together, talking treatment strategies, bracing, and intervention. Jen’s enthusiasm grew, which got my enthusiasm turning. The OTA on the case heard us and joined the problemsolving session, and the collaboration grew. I watched the momentum gain, as this patient gained a small cheering squad who put their heads together to help him. Ultimately, we provided some bracing, which helped him to move with less pain; to ensure his success at home, the team set the wheels in motion to have him transferred to inpatient rehab. After a short rehab stay, he was able to return home and move independently.

As her leader, I give Jen full credit for this patient’s success. She ignored a tendency for complacency and started the flywheel turning. Her passion ignited others and she, in turn, caused an entire team to change their lens through which they saw this patient’s condition. That day, Jen’s energy transformed and elevated 4 other members of her Bucyrus team, all through a 20-minute collaboration. It didn’t stop there, though. A colleague in Galion later admitted that when meeting the patient in inpatient rehab, she caught herself compartmentalizing his condition, but after hearing Jen’s observations and perspective, Jen helped influence a different approach to his care once again. In this example, which is only one illustration of Jen’s amazing talents, Jen demonstrates ALL of the values (accountability, value in the service provided, integrity, teamwork, and accepting responsibility for leadership). This situation outlines how Jen displays all of the Monarch characteristics (motivating, optimistic, nurturing, adaptable, respectful, caring, and helpful). She leads by example, and others are drawn to follow. We are honored to have Jen be a part of the Avita family. Thank you, Jen, for your continued dedication to your patients, your profession, and your team!

The nominator for Heath wrote:

During the COVID surge, we were faced with quickly developing an area for the monoclonal antibody infusions that could better serve our patients and community. This infusion area then ultimately ending up serving many surrounding communities and hospitals too. Once the infusion area was established and the numbers of COVID positive patients needing infusions were escalating, like many places, Avita was faced with the challenges of staffing to meet numerous needs.

Staff was assigned to different areas that they may not normally work, but were desperately needed to work in, during this time. Heath is a surgical technician and came from surgery to work in the infusion department as a runner to transport patients into the infusion center for their treatments. As a surgical technician, you are assisting in preparation of operating rooms, arranging instruments to provide to the surgeons, and helping surgeons during surgeries. The patients are sedated per anesthesia and not verbal during surgery.

When Heath came to my department to help, you can basically say he was out of his element. He was now interacting on a daily basis with very sick patients. Heath would help them out of their vehicles, listen to their concerns, soothe them as they wept in joy that they were able to get the infusion, and comfort them because they were scared like so many of us were. He did all of this in a short time frame from simply transporting them to the infusion center and back to their car after the infusion was over. Heath was also receptive to the nurses needs and wanted to help them with different things such as paperwork, calling patients, and transporting supplies. Everyone felt better knowing that Heath would be there that day.

The nominator for Paul wrote:

On August 22nd, my fiancé took her 71 year old father to the emergency room for a simple medication refill request due to his primary care physician in Florida being on hiatus. However, after missing several doses of his medication, he was suffering from dizziness, nausea, and sleeplessness, which prompted his visit to the emergency room.

At first, she had taken him to the emergency room while I stayed home with our kids. Because my fiancé only speaks limited English, and her father speaks none, the plan was that she would call me when the nurse, and then the doctor entered the room and I would explain the situation, it seemed simple enough. I received the first call from my fiancé when the nurse came to speak with her father, and I explained the situation to the registered nurse, with the understanding that I’d call back and reiterate the situation to Dr. Melissa Marker if needed. Evidently, while Dr. Marker performed their initial examination, it was discovered that my fiancé’s father had terribly high blood pressure and heart arrhythmia. Needless to say, at some point after this discovery, several members of the Avita medical staff entered his room to discuss his condition. This is when I received the second call from my fiancé. When I answered the phone I could hear alarms in the background, which I understand now where the blood pressure and heart monitors. After hearing the fear and helplessness in her voice, I immediately told our oldest son to watch the little ones and I took off from the hospital. It only took me 10 minutes to get to the hospital and when I arrived, the medical staff had already inserted two IVs with his medication, given him an ECG, and applied precautionary defibrillator pads. Within 20 minutes of my arrival, his blood pressure had been lowered to a safe level, his heart function had greatly improved, and blood tests had been completed. This was obviously a relief for our family.

So, at this point in his visit to the emergency room, I would have already given a stellar review of Avita’s medical staff and my fiancé was ready to hug them. However, more challenges presented themselves when the doctor recommended that my fiancé’s father be admitted to the hospital for further monitoring, which seemed very reasonable to my fiancé and me. So, she drove home to get his blanket and some of his clothes so he’d be comfortable. But after she left her father told me, using Google translator, that he wasn’t going to stay and that he wanted to leave. I wasn’t comfortable with supporting this decision at that moment because I didn’t know how well he understood the severity of his situation due to the language barrier. Then my new best friend entered the room.

Paul Lopez had come back for a second time to draw blood for further testing. Mr. Lopez begin speaking in Spanish to him, calmly explaining why he had returned. Mr. Lopez didn’t know at that time about his desire to leave the hospital but because I unexpectedly needed a Spanish speaking medical professional, I soon explained the situation. I wasn’t sure how Mr. Lopez would respond to my request for his help with translating the severity and concern to my fiancé’s father. Mr. Lopez compassionately agreed to do all that he could to help. This may sound insignificant or unimpressive, but for anyone that doesn’t know, Latin culture is complex, and this conversation required skillful delivery.

In short, Mr. Lopez allowed me to explain my concerns that my fiancé’s father didn’t fully understand about his medical situation due him not speaking English, then he gathered Dr. Mark and Ms. Farr for collaboration. He then proceeded calmly and professionally with the translation of blood test results, ECG test results, the effects side effects of medication withdrawal, hospital admittance procedures, etc.

In my opinion, Avita’s emergency room staff transcended all expectations by administering a collaborative, comprehensive, and competent medical care plan centered around the basic human element of compassion. My understanding is that an option exists for translation services via telephone, and although I’m sure this is a beneficial service, we needed something real and personal. My family needed reassurance. We needed to know that despite our family’s complex dynamic, we were all understood and informed. Your staff provided that and much more. Thank you to all the medical professionals that helped my future father-in-law. I truly believe that you all saved him that night. Again, thank you.

The nominator for Courtney, Jordyn, and Cat wrote:

In Ontario, we currently had husband and wife who were admitted. They had both been pretty sick and absolutely hate being separated. The aides asked if they could get them together for a lunch date and I told them they could. There were some logistical things they wanted to be safe about (they are both in isolation and they are both on oxygen). The wife especially was not handling the separation well and she was so happy to go eat lunch with her husband. Then, the aides decided to put together a Valentine’s Day dinner for the couple in the husband’s room. Cat Morgan noticed that I had flowers and chocolates delivered to me and asked if I would part with them for a good cause. I of course said yes. They took a rose and chocolates in to the couple and served them dinner together. The wife immediately burst into tears for their thoughtfulness. The patients said they were so thankful for the staff going above and beyond for them. There were a few tears shed by the staff as well. 

Employees may be nominated for the Monarch Award by patients, families, and colleagues by filling out a form online or at one of the three Avita hospital locations. The award recipients are anonymously chosen by a committee of Avita employees and awarded at celebrations attended by the honoree’s colleagues.