Past Recipients

James Colamaria
Four Winds Hospital, Director of Nursing, Psychiatric NPP
Empathetic, joyful, dedicated, loyal, caring, and respectful, James truly deserves to be recognized. James has worked at Four Winds for nearly 30 years now, and is such a dedicated and motivated nurse. He goes above and beyond to ensure the safety and happiness of the patients. He has not lost his touch or dedication in those three decades.
He always puts the patients first, and is very respected among his coworkers. James first started off as a unit nurse on the child unit here at Four Winds. He then took a job as a nurse manager. Everyone could tell that he loved this job!

He later went back to school and earned his Psychiatric NPP degree. He now works as the director of nursing here at Four Winds, where he oversees all of the nurse managers and nurses throughout the campus. Many other nurses and coworkers look up to him as a role model. He is the true definition of a leader. He knows when to take charge, and when not to, which I believe is extremely important in this type of setting.

James is extremely humble, and does not realize what an important asset he is to the Four Winds community. He plays such a vital role in making sure everything and everyone is on the same page. Although he does not work with the physically ill, he is the perfect example of what it means to be a nurse.
Jen Moore
Albany Memorial Hospital, Critical Care and ER
Clinically superb, empathetic, inspiring... I believe Ms. Moore embodies all the qualities of a great nurse.

Jen was instrumental to my survival due to post-surgical complication. I had the misfortune of having to spend a month in the hospital this past year, 17 days of which were spent in the critical care unit due to septic shock. Ms. Moore handled a clinically complex case requiring multiple diagnostic tests, procedures and complex drug regimens with great efficiency and professionalism.

However, it was in the area of handling the emotional and psychological complication of a stay in the critical care unit that Ms. Moore excelled. On every shift she motivated my will to survive by helping me deal with bad news and setbacks and cheering victories no matter how small, like sitting up longer than I had the time before or later doing one more lap around the nurse’s station.

At shift change, when I saw that Jen Moore had been assigned my case I was determined to survive for at least the next eight hours because I knew that she would expect or accept nothing less. This same attitude extended to my wife, who was not surprisingly extremely stressed and worried about the possibility of losing her husband. Jen Moore supported her emotionally, educated her and engaged her as part of the care team.

She has also been inspired by her role model, husband Patrick Moore, Sr. Together, the couple has more than 30 years of volunteer service — he as a paramedic and she as an EMT — in EMS for southern Albany County.

As a person who has both been both a significant healthcare consumer and involved with New York’s health care system for over 20 years, I can say without reservation that Jen Moore is exceptionally deserving of being named one of the area’s top 10 nurses.
Diana Graziano
Ellis Medicine - Medical Center of Clifton Park, Emergent Care
I feel that Diana deserves recognition for all positive work that she does for patients and the healthcare team. Diana gives her all, whether you have a cough or you have a life threatening event. She goes out of her way to give the best care and utmost respect to all she encounters.

Diana is a very humble person with expert knowledge in her profession. I have had the pleasure of transferring patients with her for more than 12 years.

The staff here at Clifton Park Halfmoon Ambulance really can’t say enough about how professional and caring she truly is. No matter what the diagnosis is of any given patient, Diana is professional and compassionate.

She has given her time and knowledge to educate the ambulance staff and various topics whether at the bedside or in a formal class.

She has never looked down to those with less training and I have observed first-hand the reassuring and confidence she has in the care she gives.
Monica Pena-Altieri
St. Mary’s Healthcare, Float Pool
Monica is committed to providing stellar patient experiences and advancing the nursing profession. She is a role model for RNs desiring to continue their education. While working in ICU as a single mother, she completed her bachelor’s degree and advanced her career as a Nurse Supervisor and became chairperson of the hospital’s Transforming Care at the Bedside Council.

I would describe Monica as innovative, a solution seeker and one who inspires a collaborative, vibrant work environment. As an innovator, she co-chaired the hospital’s first Patient Experience Fair to ignite connection to the latest evidence-based practices for ensuring patient and family engagement with care. Over 140 associates attended and gained tools to support their relationships with patients.

Monica co-facilitated a yearlong project to create new, custom-made patient whiteboards to ensure coordination of care in both English and Spanish. Monica is fluent in Spanish and translated each essential item listed on the whiteboard. She also involved other Spanish-speaking staff including physicians, nurse aides and housekeeping staff.

Understanding the challenges of recruiting and retaining RNs in acute care, she discovered loan forgiveness grants for nurses working in underserved areas. She is highly motivated to support her coworkers advancing their education and nursing competencies to synergize with the acuity of patients in our community.

She is a leading preceptor to novice nursing staff, Advanced Cardiac Life Saving (ACLS) Instructor, Nurse Supervisor and Float Pool nurse in addition to being our Clinical Ambassador for patient safety and process improvement.
Matthew Hickling
Albany Medical Center, Pediatric Oncology
While completing his BSN program at Russell Sage College, Matt was on the national honor society and represented the college at the national convention. He received his BSN from Russell Sage in 2012 and is currently attending graduate school through SUNY Stony Brook to achieve his Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Degree.

As an RN, Matt is highly respected by his superiors and colleagues. Matt recently joined the committee to sponsor a fund-raising Gala for the New York State Foundation for Nurses. He is also going to be Master of Ceremony for the Foundation’s Gala on Oct. 15, 2016.

Matt went beyond his daily duties of the clinic to help me as I went through treatments for lymphoma. My body became weak, and the weaker I got the less active I was. My feet began to fail as neuropathy set in. Matt saw my struggle and, as an avid cross fit trainer, he invited me to a one-on-one session with him one evening. He pushed me and pushed me: one more sit up, one more push up. One session became two, and five sessions became 10. All on Matt’s personal time. I became motivated during a very dark time. I gained strength, both physically and mentally, during a time where my mind and body were trying to shut me down.

Matt understood that the act of being a caregiver sometimes needs to occur outside of normal working hours, and he was fine with that. I owe Matt my life. I truly mean that — and not only because he saw the early warning signs of me having an allergic reaction to chemotherapy, but because he helped me regain me... not only who I was prior to the cancer, prior to the medicine, and prior to the weakness, both mental and physical.

It is people like Matt that truly make a difference in people's lives. He is the difference between good care and great care.

Matt works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center, where he treats and helps brings smiles to children faces. Outside the hospital he is involved with the CrossFit Community by being one of the biggest promoters of charity/fund-raising events throughout the capital region for CrossFit gyms.

He has been involved with numerous charitable organizations including Maddie’s Mark Foundation, March of Dimes, Nick’s Fight to be Healed, Chase the Cure, Amazing Abby and others. He is also currently serving on the NYS Center for Nursing’s Gala Committee for their 2016 Nightingale Gala and is expecting his first child in July.

You might also remember Matt from the viral YouTube video that received national attention last year. Fulfilling the wish of one of his young cancer patients who wanted to wed her favorite nurse and “man of her dreams,” Matt “married” the four-year-old girl in a special wedding ceremony at Albany Med. The video touched the hearts of people all over world, receiving more than 1.3 million views.
Ann Ross
Albany Medical Center, Patient Care Coordinator
Many times, nominations for these kind of awards will include a patient story. But no single story could ever do justice to Ann’s 38 years in nursing — a lifetime of nursing service at AMC. How in a few hundred words can we paint that picture?

When I worked alongside Ann in 2002 as a Patient Care Associate, I can remember dreaming that if I ever became a nurse, I’d want to be just like Ann, who bleeds nurse, oozes professionalism, and does it all with a smile.

I am only one of many nurses inspired by Ann’s example. Conversation with her current nurse manager confirms that. She is a powerful mentor and resource to the Medical Intensive Care Unit; investing countless hours in educating staff, patients, and families. Ann was also one of the first AACN certified nurses in the Medical ICU, and has inspired many of her colleagues to do the same.

Her position as Patient Care Coordinator allows her to shine as she recognizes and responds to diversity to advocate the “right thing” for each individual patient’s complexities and vulnerabilities. She is a key facilitator in all aspects of conflict resolution, seeing the big picture and going out of her way to make everyone else see it, too. Perhaps that is the reason she is sought out for her wisdom and expertise by physicians and other clinicians regardless of unit, level and title. In short, Ann is the complete package. Ann has gained the respect, admiration, confidence and trust of the entire unit. She is a hero and a friend to all. 
Alyson Johnson
St. Peter’s Hospital, Labor and Delivery
On October 20, 2014, while six months pregnant, it was confirmed on ultrasound that our daughter no longer had a heartbeat. I was admitted into St. Peter’s labor and delivery department where I was induced, and 24 hours later gave birth to our stillborn daughter.

For my husband and me, it was the most traumatic day of our lives. We believe that our nurse, Alyson, was our angel on earth that day. She never left our side and was one of the most compassionate people we have ever crossed paths with. She held our sweet girl before we even did, and did everything she could to help us while we were under her care and couldn’t make sense of all that was happening in our lives. I am a firm believer that people come into your life when you need them the most and I will forever be grateful that Alyson was our nurse that day.

I would describe Alyson as one of the most compassionate and empathetic people I have ever been blessed to meet. She is professional, caring, respectful, and has great interpersonal skills. For these reasons, and many more she is amazing at what she does.

After our loss, Alyson and I stayed in contact. When I became pregnant again with our son, I let her know. She was over the moon excited for myself and my family. She vowed that no matter what, even if she wasn’t scheduled to be working on the day I went into labor, she would be by my side as I delivered.

On February 23, 2016, she held true to that promise. Our son was born healthy and it was Alyson who made sure she was by my side to take care of me and be there this time for a happy ending. I think this speaks volumes about the kind of person that she is. She is exceptional and deserves to be recognized for being an incredible nurse. It is through our tragic loss that we met her, but we feel beyond blessed to now know her.
Kathleen Schermer
Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Emergency
Kathy Schermer has exemplified the core Veterans Administration values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence while serving as an Emergency Room nurse at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany.

Kathy, herself a veteran, has worked for 23 years at this hospital, most of that time in the ER. Kathy is well respected by her colleagues of the ER night shift and we are jointly nominating her.

Kathy is an excellent clinician. She demonstrates keen assessment abilities and excellent technical skills; these capabilities are critical for an ER nurse. She is 100 percent dedicated to each veteran. She is very fair, respectful and committed.

These characteristics make her an exceptional ER nurse. Respect is a core VA value and Kathy demonstrates this value in how she approaches each veteran. When a veteran recently expressed frustration about not feeling fully understood, Kathy sat down with this patient and “listened.” Taking time out to listen helped decrease the patient’s frustration and resulted in the patient following through with the treatment plan. Kathy understands the importance of connecting with patients through listening.

Kathy’s skills cover a wide range, from simple to complex. In a recent encounter, Kathy immediately recognized the severity of the patient’s illness and set about placing three intravenous lines in this patient who had very challenging venous access. This rapid observation, planning and action are so imperative when someone is critically sick. Kathy’s exceptional technical nursing skills were invaluable in the successful outcome for this patient. Kathy’s smile, sense of humor and patience are just a few of the traits that her coworkers and patients find so appealing.

She’s the one person that always makes herself available to cover staffing sick calls and shortages. Her coworkers utilize her as a resource. She actively is improving the quality of care for our veterans through her work on a quality improvement project aimed at reducing veterans’ length of stay in the ER. As her colleagues, we recognize the value of Kathy’s clinical work and want others to know that the VA has a special ER nurse who serves veterans very well.
Jessica Malloy
Saratoga Hospital, Orthopedics - Spine - Bariatrics
Clinically astute, Jessica is a charge nurse and she leads by example. She has coached more than 10 nurses in the past two years. Dual certified in Orthopedics and Medical Surgical nursing, she is Masters-prepared and has stayed at the bedside. She loves her role as a nurse.

Jessica attends the Orthopedic conference every year and has presented a poster presentation at each conference. She and two of her peers presented on certification, and she has helped other nurses obtain and apply for certifications.

Jessica is an active member of the Skin Care committee, and conducts rounds monthly, being called upon by other units to see patients because of her expertise.

She has coached many new nurses and I have received many compliments about her teaching / training abilities and she loves this role. As a charge nurse, she has exceptional skills, great critical thinking skills and communication skills. She conducts interdisciplinary rounds and charge nurse rounds daily.

The patient satisfaction scores on her unit are always in the 99th percentile as compared to other magnet hospitals. She also teaches the Total Joint class that the patients attend.
Mary Zwagerman
Guilderland Elementary School, School Nurse
Mary takes exceptional care of both students and staff. She communicates effectively with parents. We could not function without her. She is essential to our mission. Loving, patient, kind, caring, knowledgeable.

Mary takes care of all the students and staff every day and always does it with a smile. She is not afraid to have difficult conversations with parents, and will come in to teach class lessons about various topics.

One year, I had an especially bad outbreak of lice in my classroom. It kept circulating around the room from student to student. She did a fantastic job of reassuring and educating parents about how to get rid of it and prevent it from returning.

She was also great addressing the stigma of lice and reassured all that they had done nothing wrong. She was kind, compassionate and humorous.
Daniel Forget
Parish Nurse, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church
Dan has been a member of our parish community since 1972 (43 years!). He retired in 2002 at the age of 55 from the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse as Director of Criminal Justice.

But Dan felt another calling; Nursing. Just a month after retiring, he enrolled in Maria College School of Nursing, graduating in 2004 with his RN. For nine years he worked at Albany Medical Center, Columbia-Greene County Hospice Home Care and The Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s.

In 2010, Dan enrolled in the Seton Health Faith Community Nursing Program and soon received his certification as a Faith Community Nurse. Faith Community Nursing weaves spirituality and faith into health. It is recognized by the American Nurses Association as a specialty nursing practice. In March of 2010, he began to minister as an FCN at Sacred Heart Church, Castleton, N.Y., where he continues to serve. Dan’s passion and drive led him to establish a Parish Health Ministry Team consisting of 11 RNs (including himself), two pharmacists, one massage therapist, one Certified Nurse Practitioner, one consulting physician and several volunteers.

As part of his ministry, he calls on parishioners in their homes and in health care facilities, both by phone and personal visits. He sends cards and notes to those who are having a rough time or in need of a kind word. He provides compassionate and caring assistance to the sick and elderly in our parish. And he also assists people who might have difficulty navigating the health care system. Dan even accompanies people to their doctors' appointments, primarily to provide his professional expertise, but also to give comfort and reassurance. His work has resulted in a better quality of life and better health for both young and old.

In addition to Dan’s Parish Health Ministry work, he is a wonderful husband (married 45 years!) to his wife Jane, and father and grandfather to five children and eight grandchildren.
Gay-Star McFarland,
Registered Nurse Case Manager, SPHP Eddy Senior Care
Eddy Senior Care is a program that keeps nursing home eligible people in their homes, which alone is daunting. I have worked with Gay-Star for over 10 years. She carries a large caseload of challenging patients with efficiency and good humor. There has been a change in our nursing department and Gay is the rock that holds it together. She is approachable to her colleagues and is tireless in her care for our patients. Efficient, caring and intelligent, Gay-Star knows when something is not right with a patient, which is difficult in the field. She is approachable for other colleagues’ issues and is sympathetic to all. She always goes the extra 10 miles, not just a mile, to help her sister nurses, and all other staff at our program. She is a rock of consistency and stability for our staff and participants under constantly changing circumstances. When both staff and participants come in to our Day Center each day, the one thing we can count on is Gay-Star being there and being quietly wonderful.
Andrea Graffeo
Albany Medical Center, Obstetrics
Andi is hands down one of the best nurses we’ve ever come into contact with. We have watched her constantly strive to improve her skills, from obtaining her bachelor’s degree while juggling life as a single parent to achieving her master’s degree. Her myriad of experience — from labor and delivery nurse, to nursing instructor, to nurse manager and more — highlights her growth and flexibility in an ever-changing field.

We would describe her as professional but, most importantly, compassionate and calm. No matter the medical situation, Andi is the individual who people turn to for support and guidance.

“Once I tell someone my last name,” Jennifer Graffeo says, “I more often than not get the ‘Are you related to Andi?’ And then I learn they had her as their nursing instructor and how much they learned or that she was the nurse that helped them deliver their baby. Although I had lovely nurses, we would be hard-pressed to remember their names.”

But there is something about Andi that makes people remember their experiences with her — we think that is pretty exceptional.
Gary Miller
RN, Ellis Medical Center of Clifton Park (Emergent Care)
Gary is one of the finest nurses you will ever meet. He is always professional, an excellent team member, promotes teamwork, always communicates clearly and asks if everything is understood. He always demonstrates caring and compassion, addresses patient/family needs, demonstrates pride in his work and always thinks about patient safety.

How do you describe a nurse who brings each of these qualities to the workplace every day for the past 30 years? As we went around our unit asking coworkers to describe Gary, they all had the same things to say, which is a reflection of his consistent behavior. Gary always goes out of his way to make patients feel comfortable and cared for. He uses a calm voice and manner along with humor to put them at ease. No matter the age of the patient, Gary shows respect, never taking their presence in the ED as consent for allowing us to do as we please. He will ask patients “May I have your arm so I can check your blood pressure?” Gary is a skilled and certified nurse with many credentials, but you will never hear him boasting; what you will hear is him telling others about the skill and expertise of his coworkers. Gary is a true team player.

He recently had a case where an elderly patient had come in after being physically assaulted by a family member. Gary cared for her with the utmost compassion of any nurse. The patient did not want to report her loved one but Gary gently and respectfully explained that this would not be an isolated event and that we were bound by law to report to the authorities.

There is no greater nurse that patient could have had the privilege of having case for them that day under those circumstances than Gary.
Ann Lanoue
School Nurse, Algonquin Middle School, Averill Park
Ann works tirelessly as the school nurse at Algonquin Middle School in Averill Park. With over 700 students and 100 staff members, Ann provides care, support, mentoring and friendship to all who she comes in contact with. Ann volunteers in many capacities not only in our school but in our community and with the New York State Association of School Nurses.

Ann is an incredible nurse and such a compassionate person. Her knowledge is matched with a tremendous desire to continually grow, learn and support everyone at our school. Ann joined the Averill Park Central School District after a long career in nursing at a local hospital and brings a tremendous perspective and amount of knowledge to our school.

Rare is the day that Ann takes a lunch break. Ann arrives to school early each day, works tirelessly without ever saying “no” to anyone, and regularly stays after school for several hours each day. Ann is so incredibly involved in our school community, gives selflessly to this cause and is perhaps one of the greatest champions of extracurricular and athletic activities in our community. Ann has led efforts to secure funding for our high school athletics program and modified athletics at the middle school, which were cut due to budget constraints.

Each year, Ann coordinates giving hundreds of Christmas gifts and Thanksgiving meals to needy families in our community with the support of Kiwanis. Ann also makes sure that no student goes hungry, regularly connecting students and parents with resources to support them in difficult times. Ann has helped so many families that are in either crisis or struggling with what to do next as a result of major, catastrophic illnesses.
Maura Russo
Saratoga Hospital, Medical/Surgical
Maura is a selfless, genuine, caring and professional nurse. Her number one priority at all times is her patients. She is an outstanding coworker. Always helping others and putting their needs before her own, Maura is an inspiration.

Maura is the best bedside nurse we have met; she has a heart of gold and she spends all of her time with her patients. She gets to know everyone in the family and becomes a family member herself.

Recently we had a patient who was very ill and only had a few days to live. Maura was there for the family every day that she worked. She spent time with every family member. The family did not leave the hospital for days. She made arrangements so they could shower, ordered food for them and got extra chairs and linen so they could sleep in the room. She made sure the patient was medicated and comfortable assuring the family she would control his pain. Her kindness and caring are incredible.

We recently witnessed Maura making a connection with a family whose father/husband had been placed on Hospice care. Maura would spend as much time as she could with the family, holding their hands, bringing them whatever they needed to just give them some comfort. This family found such comfort with Maura in a time in their lives where they felt so lost.

When the patient’s health began to get worse, Maura went out of her way to spend the most time she could with the family. She made sure that they were comfortable, and made sure the patient stayed comfortable. When the patient did pass aware, Maura was there to help the family cope and get through the final hours. She is an angel in our eyes and in the eyes of her patients.
Kathleen Malizia
Community Nurse, Hometown Health
Hard working, dedicated, compassionate, knowledgeable.

Kathleen chooses to work in a community clinic setting, when she could work for more money in any number of less stressful settings such as a physician’s office or suburban hospital. Kathleen truly enjoys serving low-income, underserved populations who often lack the advantages and privileges of the middle and upper classes including health insurance, access to healthy nutrition, etc.

Kathleen treats each and every patient with dignity and respect, regardless of their race, social class, income level, social skills, or illness. She exemplifies a community nurse. Kathleen has fought for health/medical informational programming on waiting room televisions, replacing tabloid daytime television in an effort to educate her patients at every opportunity.

At Hometown Health, Kathleen is the go-to RN for mental health situations that require tact, compassion and sometimes bravery. Quick thinking and unflappable in an emergency, Kathleen has been instrumental in the resolution of several emergency situations that could have resulted in violence and injury to patients and staff.

Kathleen has earned the respect of her fellow nurses, physicians, support staff and patients. She is often requested by name by those patients who have had difficulties navigating the various health care systems that can be cold and dehumanizing.

Relatively new to the field, Kathleen began her journey towards her RN later in life than the average student. She determinedly pursued her goal over seven years, overcoming every challenge, all while working full time to support herself.

Kathleen has the skills, poise, and dedication of a nurse with many more years experience. She is a leader, a healer... a NURSE.
Laura Stebbins
Glens Falls Hospital, Emergency Preparedness
Laura Stebbins is a leader at Glens Falls Hospital and frankly across our state in Emergency Preparedness.

She recently demonstrated her command of preparedness yet again by providing our Glens Fall Hospital staff with emergency preparedness knowledge and the proper high-level attire required for ebola care and training, well before formal guidance was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Laura’s monthly table top exercises are comprehensive and always include a thought and scenario which considers the unique needs of our children. Her work at our organization promotes optimal communication and coordination with and between public, private and other health care sectors, permitting Glens Falls Hospital to be ready to respond within a minute’s notice to any emergency situation. Essentially, Laura Stebbins embodies and exemplifies emergency preparedness best practice on behalf of our community.

Laura is an expert leader who is dedicated, passionate and caring. She possesses expert Emergency Preparedness skills, ability and understanding with which she directs and coordinates Glens Falls Hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Program with regulatory, public, private and other health care resources tirelessly on behalf of the community we serve.
Christine Martin
Samaritan Hospital, CNS, ED
Chris is the Clinical Nurse Educator for the Emergency Department for Memorial and Samaritan. She works long hard hours to ensure staff are educated to provide the highest level of patient care. She coordinates Advanced Life Support Education for staff at both of these hospitals.

Chris exhibits exemplary nursing practice working with the critically ill patient population and the nurses who care for them. She has been employed at Samaritan Hospital for 46 years and acts as a role model and mentor to the interdisciplinary team. She has created a dynamic and supportive learning environment for the ED and critical care nursing staff.

Chris is constantly learning and encouraging others to do the same. She has an adventurous soul and loves the excitement of emergency nursing. She is always willing to go the extra mile to provide what is needed to support excellent nursing care.

She has influenced generations of nurses over the course of her 45 years. She continually demonstrates tireless service to Samaritan and Albany Memorial Hospital, the staff and above all else the patients.
Lisa VanWormer
St. Peter’s Hospital, Cancer Care Center/Outpatient Infusion
I met Lisa at a time that was very difficult and scary for me. I was diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumor. I really didn’t know what to expect as I entered the infusion suite for my chemotherapy for lung cancer.

Lisa approached me and my husband and explained what would happen during each session. After her explanation, she settled me in a comfortable chair and started my treatment. I knew I was in good hands.

Lisa is a nurse who treats her patients with great compassion and is very knowledgeable about everything having to do with the infusion unit. She took the time at all my sessions last year making sure everything went smoothly. She made me feel good even though my body was weak and my hair was gone. She was always understanding and upbeat, which helped me keep my spirits up.

Lisa always demonstrated a positive attitude and professionalism when I was being treated. She also made sure I had warm blankets when the air conditioning made the room cold and water, juice or snacks for nourishment. These little things made my sessions much easier.

I realize that working in the infusion unit is tough when you know that the patients are dealing with life threatening issues, but Lisa is a special person that can deal with that on a daily basis while remaining upbeat and professional.
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