A nurse for nearly four decades, Skinner received the award during a gala in Richmond Nov. 1.

Newport News, Va – Riverside Health System is pleased to announce that Joanne Skinner –a nurse who received her training at Riverside nearly four decades ago and remained with the health system –received the Virginia Chapter March of Dimes Nurse of the Year in Geriatrics and Long Term Health award at a gala event in Richmond, Va. Nov. 1.

To say Skinner was surprised to even be nominated, much less receive the award, is an understatement.

But even more so "it was exciting to have recognition for all of the other nurses that I work with in Long Term Care and Geriatric Nursing," Skinner said. "It's critical to take care of the geriatric-aged, older adult, population. It's often overlooked, but there is a lot of complexity with the aging population that we care for, and many challenges that we face."

march of dimes nurse of the year 2014

The March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award recognizes and honors distinguished nurses for their outstanding contributions to the field, and Skinner's impact as the health system's Director of Clinical Reimbursement, which includes overseeing clinical reimbursement documentation processes for Riverside's multiple nursing home locations, earned her the nomination.

Michelle Thacker, who Skinner hired more than 15 years ago, nominated Skinner, citing the impact Skinner had on her career and all the patients and residents she's worked with.

Skinner, who has worked in long term care with Riverside for the majority of her 38-year career, graduated from the Riverside Nursing Program and earned her Bachelor's Degree from Old Dominion University in 2000.

She credits much of her success on her practice of the Riverside Mission and Care Difference, which promises to treat all patients and residents as if they were family, while keeping them safe, healing them, being kind to them and respecting their wishes.

"I believe in meeting people where they are and providing them the care they want," Skinner said about working with older adults in long term care. "I really believe in allowing people to make the choices they want to make, and then supporting them in that decision. I want to first do what the residents want by honoring their wishes—it's not what I want, it's what they want."

Across the health system, Skinner said, even more nurses like her are beginning to understand and appreciate the unique needs of working with older adults.

Skinner cited Riverside's positive strides, that in many ways are leading the nation, in implementing NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders) training to improve acute care for older adults across the entire health system.

"This is an awesome education piece that greatly helps us to be more knowledgeable and care for the elderly," Skinner said. "NICHE has been a huge focus and it's been very positive for Riverside to bring its philosophies to their continuum of care."

Though Skinner received the award herself, she doesn't feel exclusive.

The award, she said, "represents one of many, many nurses in Lifelong Health that provide great care."

Published: November 10, 2014