Michelle Chadwell Named 2014 'Nightingale Nurse of the Year'

A Humboldt County nurse described as a champion of both patients and co-workers has been named the 2014 "Nightingale Nurse of the Year" by Humboldt General Hospital.

Michelle Chadwell, RN, received the news at a special luncheon on Friday, May 9. She was one of four nurses nominated for the honor, including Jennifer Fernandez, Echo Mathews and Mary Schlotzhauer.

Chadwell's nomination shows that not only is she a spectacular nurse, but a strong leader as well, taking her position as house supervisor very seriously as she places her co-workers' needs above her own.

"Michelle helps out her staff when they are short-staffed, or just very busy, by putting in orders, getting supplies or answering bells," said the nomination.

The nomination also painted a picture of a strong mentor. "She gives positive feedback to staff, offers constructive criticism that promotes self-esteem in her staff, and acknowledges teamwork."

The nomination further focused on Chadwell's friendly approach to problem-solving. "Michelle has an 'open door' policy, and is very approachable with any problems or difficulties her staff may have. She stands up for her staff, and can be counted on for help without question."

The nominator concluded: "Michelle, in my opinion, demonstrates strong leadership skills, and the strong character needed to be an excellent nurse."

The six-year acute department employee said she was deeply touched by the tribute.

"It's an honor to be nominated," Chadwell told the group of luncheon-goers. "It's an honor to come here and work every day with such caring and compassionate people."

Humboldt General Hospital CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish called Chadwell once of HGH's "stars" who is known for her common sense.

"You have emerged as a leader," he told Chadwell. "You were a great floor nurse and now you're doing a super job as a house supervisor."

Parrish added "We hope you'll stay with us for many years."

Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician who came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War where she tended to wounded soldiers. Nightingale was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night.

Nightingale laid the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment, in 1860, of her nursing school at St Thomas' Hospital in London, the first secular nursing school in the world, now part of King's College London. The Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses was named in her honor, and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.

Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Bryan said the HGH "Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award" was created to recognize nurses who, like Nightingale, go above and beyond in their duties, who go out of their way to provide exceptional care, who elevate themselves and their profession through education and knowledge, and who can innovate by coming up with new and better ideas.

"In short, we are looking for nurses who inspire, elevate, innovate and energize," she said.

HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish said the award is a landmark event in a nurse's life, and also a fitting tribute to HGH's nurses.

"I'm so proud of you," he told the group of assembled nurses, "and of the work you do every day; you are the backbone of this organization."

Parrish said as he travels the country, he meets with other hospital administrators who constantly complain. "They have trouble with their nursing staff," he said. "They say their nurses are mean and unsupportive."

"I hope that you feel supported," Parrish told the group, "you are valued members of our staff and your efforts are appreciated."

Chadwell was presented with a plaque and some beautiful flowers by Parrish. She also received a $3,000 stipend to participate in the educational opportunity of her choice.

This is the fourth year for the HGH Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award. Past recipients include Diane Nevis, LPN, Pam Ruark, RN and Robyn Dunckhorst RN.

A new wall display was recently added to the HGH lobby area explaining the award and honoring past and present recipients.