Community nurses selected for Florence Nightingale Awards

vcsPRAsset_1560802_115889_b1b28e8f-17af-4854-b72d-ae28af570ca0_0Community nurses who impact patient lives, improve health outcomes, elevate the profession of nursing and inspire others to consider nursing as a professional career will be honored at the University of Louisville School of Nursing’s Florence Nightingale Awards on November 5, 2015. Six winners and three honorable mention recipients, along with more than 90 other nominees will be recognized at the second annual event.
“Each of the more than 100 nominees represent various aspects of the qualities and talents of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing,” said Marcia Hern, Ed.D., C.N.S., R.N., dean and professor at the UofL School of Nursing. “We are pleased to honor these exceptional nurses, who represent the very best of their profession from across Kentucky and southern Indiana.”
The six awardees are:
Brittany Combs, R.N., B.S.N., graduated from Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Ind., and is a public health nurse at theScott County Health Department in Indiana. She cares for individuals with substance abuse, working at the forefront of prevention and treatment of HIV. Brittany designed the recent needle exchange program in Scott County, where patients can exchange their used needles for clean needles as well as sign up for ID’s, Medicaid and even rehabilitation. She teaches HIV awareness to children in local schools. Potential nursing students in the community shadow Brittany when considering a career in nursing. Brittany is a leader and change agent.
Tracey Crawford, R.N., B.S.N., C.E.N., N.R.E.M.T., graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a bachelor’s in nursing and has spent the last 16 years as a certified emergency nurse in the emergency department (ED) at King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC). As the ED educator and EMS liaison, Tracey trains nurses in life-saving skills for BLS, ACLS and PALS. She is a director for the Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum course and is the contact person for over 20 area EMS agencies and seven air transportation bases. Tracey is part of KDMC’s Chest Pain, Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Accreditation teams. Tracey’s favorite part of her job is at the bedside taking care of patients in the emergency department.
Kathryn Mershon, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.A.A., F.A.A.N., was instrumental in founding the nursing school at Galen College. She has more than 25 years of experience as a senior health care executive. For 13 years, Kathy served as a senior officer of Humana, responsible for developing corporate strategies for quality, consistency and cost effectiveness of nursing practice. She founded and served as president of Humana Health Institutes and has national health policy experience, having served for six years as a member of the Medicare Prospective Payment Assessment Commission. As a member of the Health Professions Review Group, she reviewed and critiqued the work of President Clinton’s Task Force on Health Care Reform. Kathy is a nursing legacy leader in education and health policy.
Jennifer Sims, R.N., A.P.R.N., received her M.S.N. from the University of Louisville in adult advanced practice nursing in 1998 and is a nurse practitioner at the Louisville VA Medical Center. Jennifer assists America’s veterans in navigating the complex Veterans Administration and assists them in obtaining the care they need, often spending eight hours a day helping one veteran and his/her family. She also runs a primary care clinic for inmates in a moderate security prison and advocates for their care through the complex prison system. Caring is an integral part of Jennifer’s work.
Debbie Thomas, A.P.R.N., P.M.H.N.P.-B.C., P.M.H.C.N.S.-B.C., C.M.P., Ed.D., completed her M.S.N. in psychiatric nursing from IUPUI and her Ed.D. in leadership at Spalding University. Her nursing career started in the neonatal ICU, and she has been in psych mental health for the past 30 years. She has been at the UofL School of Nursing for 19 years, where she coordinates the graduate psychiatric nursing concentration. Also, she has owned a private practice since 1992. Debbie is a well-known national and international speaker and has received numerous awards throughout her career, as well as having been engaged in research, publications and presentations. Debbie connects deeply with each of her patients as they do with her for mental health care.
Freda Thompson, R.N.-B.C., M.S.N., is a graduate of Western Kentucky University (ASN), Murray State University (B.S.N.) and the University of Texas – Austin (M.S.N.). Freda is currently employed at Baptist Health Paducah as an education Instructor, preparing new graduates to care for critically ill patients through a series of evidence-based specialty courses. She has been active with the American Heart Association, holding regional and national faculty roles and directing advanced AHA courses for hospital staff in 12 counties in Kentucky. Freda also coordinates the hospital’s competency program, planning annual training and managing the online learning management system. Freda is a passionate nurse educator.
The three honorable mentions are:
Lena Harrell, R.N., B.S.N. – Department of Public Health & Wellness, Louisville, Ky.
Dori Livy, R.N., B.S.N. – Oldham County Health Department, Oldham Co., Ky.
Ronnita Usher, A.P.R.N., D.N.P. – Norton Audubon Hospital, Louisville, Ky.
Each of the six winners will receive a $1,000 cash award and commemorative plaque, and all nominees will be recognized on November 5, 2015 at the University of Louisville School of Nursing Florence Nightingale Awards in Nursing at the Mellwood Arts Center, 1860 Mellwood Ave. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and program at 6:45 p.m. For information about individual tickets and table sponsorships visit