Recognizing nursing excellence at Niagara Health

Niagara Health press release – Niagara Health celebrated excellence in nursing on Thursday, May 9/2019, with its annual Nursing Excellence Awards, in a ceremony that spanned all five hospital sites. The awards are held each year during National Nursing Week.

“This ceremony is always one of the highlights of National Nursing Week,” said Derek McNally, Niagara Health’s Executive Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive. “It is important to celebrate the inspiring leadership of our nursing professionals and thank them for their extraordinary contributions to health in Niagara.”

This year’s nominees represent Niagara Health’s CORE values every day, displaying compassion, optimism and commitment to achieving ambitious results. All our nursing professionals help us achieve our vision of a healthier Niagara.

Every winner has a unique story that inspired their nomination by their peers. One nurse went above and beyond to arrange for a couple to be together in the same hospital unit, as one of them entered end-of-life care. Another helped an anxious woman who found herself without a ride home. A Lifetime Achievement Award winner has dedicated more than 40 years to caring for patients.

Here are the 17 award recipients of the 2019 Niagara Health Nursing Excellence Awards:

Excellence in Nursing – Registered Nurse

IDELLA GEORGE | St. Catharines Site | Registered Nurse

Idella is a constant support for anesthesia and vascular surgery. As the resource nurse for both areas, Idella is a nurse that staff look to for guidance. Her knowledge, paired with her ability to listen and respond to patient needs, set her apart. She always demonstrates patient-centered care by working with purpose—taking the time to talk with her patients. She is the go-to person for mentoring new staff and students. 

PINA PAGE | Greater Niagara General Site | Registered Nurse

Pina has been with Niagara Health for about 30 years. She is a tireless advocate for patients and their families, as well as for her colleagues. Pina recently took on the role of clinical coach to improve our standard of care as well as the critical thinking skills and knowledge base of our staff. Pina is known for always going the extra mile. Her kindness and understanding is truly inspiring.

DEBBY STEELE| Welland Site | Registered Nurse

Debby is given the most challenging and acute assignments. Her skills as an RN are challenged only by her enviable work ethic. She supports new staff and her dedication to patients and families, coupled with her ability to remain calm in a crisis make her a true leader. Everyone who comes to work and sees her name on the schedule knows their day will run smoother because she is there.

Excellence in Nursing – Registered Practical Nurse

TRISTEN CASTRO | Greater Niagara General Site | Registered Practical Nurse

Tristen is a hard-working, enthusiastic nurse who provides a very high standard of care. He is currently working full-time while working towards his RN designation. Tristen has made numerous process improvements, leading to positive patient experiences. Tristen forms excellent therapeutic relationships with all patients he deals with, which is evident in the amount of gold stars he receives. He has an innate ability to de-escalate a situation effectively, which is an excellent trait to have when working in the Emergency Department.

JEANNINE RUSS | Welland Site | Registered Practical Nurse

Jeannine, who worked in Complex Care, consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that patient and family experience exceeds expectations. Jeannine can often be found giving her patients a little extra TLC, spending an extra moment with them, whatever it takes to make the patient feel valued and cared for. Examples of Jeannine’s thoughtfulness and patient-centered care are endless.

ASHLEIGH STAFF | St. Catharines Site| Registered Practical Nurse

Ashleigh consistently models a values-based approach to quality care, always putting the patient at the centre of everything. Ashleigh takes her patients’ unique needs into account when planning and delivering care. She brings forward her experience in working with patients in the community to help the team identify how to improve care.

Excellence in Nursing – Advanced Practice Nursing

LISA BOYD | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Educator

Lisa is the Clinical Educator for the Cardiology Program and most recently has taken on an education role for Interventional Radiology. Lisa possesses both a strong body of knowledge based on theory, evidence and practice and has been able to share that knowledge with her peers, always acting as a role model and a mentor to others.

CHRISTINA HUNTINGTON | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Practitioner

Christina is an advocate for her patients and her profession, but what makes her even more outstanding is her ability to both inform and advocate for those she works with. She takes the time to ask questions and be informed, and inquires how we can work collaboratively to improve the care of those we serve. Christina is the first to give recognition to others.

MARIANA PECORA | Welland Site| Nurse Practitioner

Mariana demonstrates excellence in patient care planning each and every day in the Complex Care environment. She is skilled at having very difficult discussions with patients and family. Mariana always advocates for her patients, facilitating conversations when family decisions conflict with the patients. She is quick to lend a hand, not only at the beside, but doesn’t hesitate to help her colleagues on different units, or even different sites.

DANIELLE SMITH | Greater Niagara Site | Nurse Practitioner

Danielle consistently demonstrates thoughtful and knowledgeable approaches to care. She has taken particular interest in supporting families at the end-of-life care and has shown great sensitivity to patients and families as they maneuver through this experience.  She consistently demonstrates advocacy across teams and sites to ensure the best care possible is planned and executed for all involved.

Excellence in Nursing – Teamwork and Collaboration

LAURA FARRELLY | St. Catharines Site | Registered Nurse Patient Care Director

Laura recently assumed accountability for the St. Catharines Site’s Emergency Department and her positive, quiet influence is already very evident, with the team remarking how supported they feel. Laura is consistent, visible and calm, leading those around her to feel supported even during difficult days, or in challenging situations. She is a remarkable listener and coach and as a result, she empowers the leaders on her team, ensuring that everyone is constantly developing and evolving in their role. 


·        JANET HEYWOOD | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Educator

·        CHERYL RUZGYS | St. Catharines Site |  Nurse Educator

·        ROSEMARIE BOZZA | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Educator

·        KATHARINE MARTINSON | Welland Site | Nurse Educator

·        DEANNA CALDER | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Educator

·        KRISTINA BUDAI | Welland Site |  Registered Nurse

·        ADRIANA PETTINATO | Greater Niagara General Site | Registered Nurse

·        NICOLE LAVOIE | St. Catharines Site | Nurse Educator

·        BEATA PIEROG | St. Catharines Site | Registered Nurse

This nursing team works tirelessly with the Niagara Diabetes Centre’s registered dietitians, social workers, endocrinologists, internists, pediatricians and family doctors to provide patient-centered care to each individual, family member or caregiver. The educators attend numerous events to keep updated on medications and ever-changing technology, often on their own time.  The team manages and teaches about current and upcoming technology for the treatment of diabetes. This team makes certain that patients are followed and led through their diabetes journey with dignity and care. 

Excellence in Nursing – Rising Star

NATALIE FERRARO | St. Catharines Site | Registered Nurse

Natalie has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership. She has fully engaged her team in the Dialysis Unit and as a result the team has flourished. Natalie’s exceptional optimism, her passion for quality and her incredible ability to coach and mentor have had a remarkable effect on the team. She engages with our patients, ensuring that their voices are heard and their feedback is valued.

NICOLE PERRY | Welland Site| Registered Nurse

Nicole is unfailingly able to manage a complicated assignment. Nicole adapts to patient’s changing status and assignment changes mid-shift. She has excellent communication skills with physicians, nurses of all departments and all health disciplines, and support staff.

Excellence in Nursing – Lifetime Achievement

KAREN ANDERSON | St. Catharines Site | Registered Nurse

Karen Anderson is a Charge Nurse at the St. Catharines Site Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she has worked for over 30 years. She has served as a mentor to countless new ICU nurses and continues to support new staff in her role. Karen shows her dedication to her unit and Niagara Health on a daily basis, always striving to improve the experience for our patients and their families.

SHIRLEY HAWKEY | Greater Niagara General Site | Registered Nurse

Shirley has been a nurse with Niagara Health for over 40 years. During this time, she has been a part of many programs, worked in many positions, and touched the lives of so many patients and colleagues. Her dedication to patient care is exemplified every day in the work she does in the Geriatric Assessment Program. Her kind and gentle presence, and extensive knowledge are vital to her role.

MAGGIE HOLMES | Welland Site | Registered Nurse

Maggie has been the Charge Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit for more than 16 years. She is respected by physicians, nursing colleagues and allied health departments. She has an uncanny memory for details and can remember patients and their families long after they have been discharged from our care. She is always the advocate for those less fortunate and reminds everyone to be kind. Maggie is a mentor and encourages others to do what is best for patients and their families.


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