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Compassion for patients, leadership in quality and patient safety and being a role model are just a few of the qualities that describe great nurses. The March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to preventing birth defects and infant mortality, pays tribute to the nursing profession each year by recognizing extraordinary nurses throughout the community. Dating back to the polio era, nurses have played a critical role in advancing the mission of the March of Dimes. The Nurse of the Year awards recognize nursing excellence and achievements in research, education, quality patient care, innovation and leadership.

This year, three Riverside Shore nurses, Jane Kellam, MSN, RN, CWOCN, Sarah Shotwell, RN, BSN and Annette Hemple, FNP-BC, MSN are finalists for the 6th annual Virginia Chapter March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award.

Kellam, Director of Nursing at Riverside Shore Rehabilitation Center, has been in nursing for 39 years and is also a Certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse. A lifelong career nurse, she remarked, "Being a finalist for this award is something I never expected. I do not consider myself special....just dedicated to caring for others. I am part of a large team of colleagues who are just as dedicated as I am. I truly believe in Riverside's mission statement to care for others as I would care for my own loved ones.  Caring for the elder population is an amazing gift; I enjoy each and every day with our residents and am blessed that they (and their families) trust us to care for their loved ones. In the midst of the busiest day, to be able to reach out and hold a hand, give a hug, provide care for those in need, is a blessing that I give thanks for daily."

Shotwell, a 7-year team member at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital (RSMH), recently earned her certification as an IShotwell commented, "As natural as breastfeeding is, it can still be difficult. I work to make the process easier on both mother and baby so that breastfeeding can be as successful as possible". Shotwell was chosen as a finalist for her work to support new moms and help them solve common breastfeeding problems. Her goal is to improve breastfeeding success and thereby improve the health of the Shore's children. Shotwell established a breastfeeding support group twice a month and a support line for anyone in the community with breastfeeding questions. The support line phone number is 757-414-8008.

"Riverside is proud to offer this expanded service to our community," said Ann Pruitt, Nurse Manager of the Maternal/Child Health Unit at RSMH. "Sarah has a great rapport with patients and is able to get them started toward success. The benefits of breastfeeding to mother and baby simply cannot be overemphasized and will give the baby the best possible start in life. Sarah's support of new moms has the potential to improve the overall health of our Shore community –it's part of Riverside's mission."

has been a nurse for 15 years working primarily in Critical Care. She recently earned her MSN, FNP and is now working with cardiac and neurology patients on the Eastern Shore with Dr. Lloyd Kellam, III and Dr. Robert Paschall. Annette is passionate about excellence in both patient care and in nursing professionalism. Hempel remarked "I'm honored to be recognized as a nursing leader and professional and to represent Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. My work is challenging and yet so fulfilling, and to considered as a finalist for such an award is humbling." Hempel was also a finalist this year for the Virginia Nurses Foundation's Nurse of the Year awards.

Patty MacDougall, DNP, RNC, Nurse Executive for RSMH commented, "Jane, Sarah and Annette, as nursing leaders for Riverside, set a great example and are wonderful mentors with staff and patients alike. Their dedication and professionalism set a high standard and consistently demonstrate the Riverside Care Difference –the way in which we provide patient-centered care and respect in all aspects of service delivery. I'm so very proud of them and our entire nursing team."

Published: October 25, 2016