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Meet Our Nurses

2008 DMC Nurses of the Year
Congratulations to DMC Nightingale Award Nominees & Winners
The Oakland University Nightingale Awards for Nursing were created to honor dedicated nurse professionals from throughout the state of Michigan. This was the 20th anniversary of the award celebration, whose nominees are selected through peer submissions, and winners are chosen by a designated colleague selection committee. This year the DMC is proud to congratulate 15 of our nurses as nominees for an award, resulting in 3 DMC Nightingale Award recipients and 1 runner-up, including an organizational sweep of the Staff Nurse Practice category. Over 700 healthcare professionals attended the Nightingale reception celebration held on May 8th at the San Marino Club in Troy. Financial support obtained from event attendance raised money for scholarships for Oakland University nursing students, as well as provide Oakland University with updated training equipment and technology resources for their nursing program.

DMC Nightingale Nurse Nominees:

Xiaojie An -Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan
Nancy Barnai -Michigan Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital
Sue-Ellen Bennett -Detroit Receiving Hospital
Cheryl Casico - Detroit Receiving Hospital
Patricia Dodge -Hutzel Women’s Hospital
Corrine Hamstra - Harper University Hospital
Kathleen McLaughlin - Hutzel Women’s Hospital
Donna Pappas - Detroit Receiving Hospital
Teodora Pontaoe - Harper University Hospital
Vernessa Salkic - Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan
Sylvia Van der Koy Kempl - Detroit Receiving Hospital

Winner-Staff Nurse Practice Category:
Melissa Mayes-Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital


Melissa Mayes has worked for the DMC since April of 2001 in the Charach Cancer Treatment Center at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. She graduated from Madonna University with her BSN in 1994. Melissa is a member of Professional Nurse Council, Chair of the Hospital Practice Council, a level-3 member of the Professional Development Ladder, and a member of the Safe Chemotherapy Administration task force. She is Project Coordinator for the community outreach program she developed for the children of Roeper Elementary School, enabling students to tour the Charach Center and stay for the day to learn more about cancer and the need for community awareness. Melissa is noted by her colleagues for the thorough, compassionate, and skillful nursing care she provides to each patient she comes in contact with. Congratulations to Melissa Mayes, recipient of the 2008 Nightingale Award in the category of Staff Nurse Practice.

Winner-Staff Nurse Practice Category:
Mary Ellen Zajac-Children’s Hospital of Michigan


Mary Ellen Zajac has been employed with the DMC for 24 years, and is a Staff Nurse and RNC in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She is a member of the Bloodstream Infection Prevention Team, Chairperson of the NICU Unit Practice Committee, and an active member of the National and Southeastern Michigan Association of Neonatal Nurses. Maryellen is recognized for her innovative continuous improvement ideas, and her effective communication of best practice methods to the NICU staff. She assists with presenting evidence-based practice “how to” workshops to nurses throughout CHM. Her personal evidence-based practice research has resulted in CHM nursing protocol changes that reduced the annual number of CVC-associated bloodstream infections by 29 occurrences, saving CHM approximately $300,000 through decreasing prolonged length-of-stay. Mary Ellen is noted as an excellent educator and mentor for new staff, and an innovator always striving to elevate the standard for her profession. Congratulations to Maryellen Zajac, recipient of the 2008 Nightingale Award in the category of Staff Nurse Practice.  

Winner-Education and Research Category:
Nancy Gibbs-Detroit Receiving Hospital


Nancy Gibbs has been a Nurse Educator in the Emergency Department of Detroit Receiving Hospital for over twenty years. She has prior experience at Detroit General Hospital as an Assistant Nurse Manager in the Emergency Department. Nancy collaborated with DMC Occupational Health Services on the General Motors Nursing Skills Project in 2007, by participating in a panel interview with ED physicians discussing trauma care. The video was later used to train Occupational Health nurses across the United States. Nancy is highly motivated, dedicated, and enthusiastic about nursing. She is gifted in her ability to teach complex skills, shows compassion to everyone she meets, and is noted for her ability to connect with her colleagues and those she teaches on a personal level. She is filled with true stories/examples about her experiences in the ED, and she uses these stories to teach staff in a way that is both educational and memorable. Congratulations to Nancy Gibbs, recipient of the 2008 Nightingale Award in the category of Nursing Education and Research.

Runner Up: Advanced Practice Category:
Linda Schrettner Miller-Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital


Linda Schrettner Miller is an Advanced Practice Nurse at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, and has been employed with the DMC for 27 years. Linda’s many hats include that of Nurse Practitioner, Educator, and Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Women’s Health division at HVSH. Linda has a passion for evidence-based practice, and loves to support nurses throughout the hospital in conducting their research studies. She initiated the Evidence-Based Nursing Practice Council at HVSH in 2006. She also spearheaded development of a hospital-wide animal therapy program aimed at reducing patient pain, fear, and anxiety. Linda volunteers within her community as a Nurse Practitioner for Oakland County. She provides free biweekly offerings for health exams and screening to under-insured women for the prevention of breast and cervical cancer. Linda is a proponent of exercise, enjoys running, and participated in a half marathon this year. She established a “Walking Club” at HVSH to encourage staff to exercise, and remember the importance of self-care for all caregivers. Colleagues describe Linda as dedicated, knowledgeable, compassionate, and an asset to the hospital. Congratulations to Linda Schrettner Miller, runner-up for the 2008 Nightingale Award in the category of Advanced Nurse Practice.

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