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Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Nurse

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 15, 2021

Honors a nurse whose performance is considered exemplary by patients, peers and other health care providers.


JO ANN BEHOUNEK

Title: Surgical services/ emergency services nurse
 
Organization: Novant Health
 
What the nominator said: “Jo Ann is an experienced nurse whose calm, competent presence shines through in every interaction. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jo Ann worked the forward triage station right outside the emergency room, testing and triaging patients who may have had COVID-19. It was a scary time for everyone, especially nurses, who were ‘facing something new every 30 minutes,’ as Jo Ann put it. Jo Ann’s instinct as a nurse is to rush in and help. But her work during the COVID-19 taught her to slow down and help – both her fellow nurses and her patients. She constantly reminded her coworkers to stop before treating a patient to put on their full personal protective equipment, their best defense at the time against the virus. She also stopped for countless patients during that time – ‘screeching to a halt,’ as she said, to listen to their worries and concerns. She had to do this because they had no family around to do so. It made her grow as a nurse, and she now sees it as a blessing. … Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jo Ann was the kind of nurse who would work tirelessly to make a difference for her patients.”
 
- Deborah Lannon, Novant Health

ERYN DAVIS

Title: Staff nurse, COVID intensive care unit & medical intensive care unit
 
Organization: Novant Health
 
What the nominator said: “Eryn is a COVID ICU nurse and has been since the start of this pandemic. She has tirelessly provided care to more patients than anyone predicted would enter her unit. Some of those patients went home, many did not. The physical and emotional toll of that reality is why she is my Hero. So many nurses are deserving of this award, but what sets Eryn apart is her unwavering compassion for the patients and family in spite of the tremendous odds against her efforts translating to a positive outcome. Often, she has found herself as the only person able to be with a patient as they take their last breath. She has consoled countless family members and struggled at a personal level with why she hasn’t been able to save more patients. This is the burden she bears without expectation of anything in return. … [Eryn and her fellow nurses] didn’t receive training or enablement to face this enemy. … Wearing ‘space suits’ and sacrificing water and food breaks during their 12/13/14 hour shifts. Being thrusted into shift lead roles before they were truly ready and being expected to endure the tragedies of staffing crises. Eryn is not ‘just’ a Hero, she is a Warrior.”
 
- Chris Davis, spouse

OWEN HOWELL

Title: School nurse at Codington Elementary/Lake Forest Academy
 
Organization: New Hanover County Health & Human Services
 
What the nominator said: “Owen is the definition of an exceptional school nurse, going above and beyond her daily job requirements. She goes out of her way to establish relationships with the students, jumps in to help when we are short-handed on staff and is a leader in her field. Since the start of COVID, she has kept us up to date as information changes daily, been diligent with enforcing policies and procedures regarding symptoms, masking, distancing, contact tracing and protocols. She wears so many hats and wears them all well. She shares our school with another school in the county, serves on a leadership team, spends late hours at school weekly and gives her best ALL THE TIME! School nurses have so much pressure on them as ‘COVID police’ and carry so much weight on their shoulders to keep staff and students safe. She is not just an extremely hard worker and amazing school nurse, but the relationships and connections she has built with the students are remarkable.”
 
- Anna Schatz, teacher

Read more about all of the 2021 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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