Heather Spence, BSN, RN, CNOR and Director of Surgical Services at Riverside Shore Memorial HospitalRiverside Health System is pleased to announce Heather Spence, BSN, RN, CNOR, the Director of Surgical Services at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, earned a Virginia Nurses Foundation (VNF) 2019 Leadership Excellence Award in the Direct Patient Care Leader - Patient Experience category.

“Receiving an award like this is such an honor,” said Spence. “Leadership is nothing without an awesome team. The members on our surgical team at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital have amazing hearts, motivation to care for patients the way they would care for those they love, and the desire to be strong patient advocates at all times.”

Spence’s award recognizes her as a frontline nurse leader that demonstrates a commitment to serving patients with excellence. She demonstrated an impact on the patient experience through compassionate care, effective communication and an attitude focused on exceeding expectations.

Leadership Excellence Awards from VNF honor registered nurses at all levels of the profession who demonstrate outstanding leadership and make a difference in the lives of patients.

“Finalists of this award truly embody the spirit of what it means to be a nurse leader," said VNF President Terris Kennedy. “They are compassionate, driven, and determined to positively impact the nursing profession. They see a need for improvement in their community and go above and beyond to deliver lasting results. Whether they are long into their nursing career or newly graduated, these individuals are creating innovative patient solutions that will shape the nursing practice for years to come.”

Also nominated and named finalists for this year’s awards were Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital’s Deb Brown and Sheila Conner, and Riverside Walter Reed Hospital’s Heather Teller. Twelve additional Riverside nurses from Williamsburg, Tappahannock and Newport News received honorable mention accolades.

Spence, an Eastern Shore native who grew up in Oyster, joined the Riverside team in 1999. Health care was always a calling for Spence, with interest as long as she can remember in anything to do with anatomy and the way the body works. She worked in various areas of the hospital before graduating from nursing school and becoming an operating room nurse.

“Surgery speaks to me,” Spence said. “Here, in the operating room, we are with patients at a time when they are the most vulnerable and it is our responsibility to care for them, to speak for them. We are the patient advocate and want to care for them as we would care for our own family.”

Under Spence’s leadership, the surgical team’s goal has been to always go above and beyond what patients and their families expect.

“Coming in to have surgery can be a scary experience, and we want to put people at ease,” Spence said. “We want them to know they are going to come in and get this fabulous treatment, and that we are going to take care of their family, too.”

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital focuses a lot on the experience of loved ones not only because it’s the right thing to do, Spence said, but also because “we want the patients to feel safe and cared for, and their loved ones are an important part of that experience. If they are nervous, it affects the patient.” Just having a hospital by Riverside located on the Eastern Shore is a move that helps patients and their families, Spence said.

“When you have to travel for health care, your family and loved ones then have to also travel with you and that can be a burden,” Spence said. “Here, at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital we have this remarkable facility, wonderful resources and an amazing team. We’re all dedicated to doing as much for the community as we can.”

Published: October 29, 2019