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Published on May 18, 2009

Nurse of the Year Named at Valley West; Community Wellness Team Recognized

May 18, 2009

Valley West Nurse Supervisor Cindy Fox, RN, TNS; Mary Jane Hotopp, Registered Technologist (Mammography/Radiology); and the Community Wellness Department received honors at the KishHealth System’s Annual Employee Recognition Banquet. The awards were presented May 14, at Northern Illinois University’s Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

Fox received the Pamela Lewis Nurse of the Year Award for Valley West.  Hotopp received the Karen Sepaniak KHS Spirit Award; and the Valley West Community Wellness department received one of the health system’s Awards of Excellence for growth.            

Cindy Fox, RN, TNS, house supervisor in Valley West Community Hospital Med/Surg inpatient care, received the Pamela Lewis Nurse of the Year award.  The Pamela Lewis Nurse of the Year award was created after the loss of Pamela Lewis, RN, former manager of the Valley West Medical/Surgical and Intensive Care Units. After her death in 2006, Lewis’ family created the Pamela Lewis Nursing Fund which provides the recipient of the Valley West Nurse of the Year monetary support for continuing education. 

Fox began her professional nursing career in 1991 as a graduate of Waubonsee Community College, and immediately started work at Sandwich Community Hospital on the medical/surgical unit. Family needs dictated a change of hours and she began work as a home health nurse for the LaSalle County Health Department. Recognizing that taking care of acutely ill patients was her true calling; she joined the Kishwaukee Community Hospital team in 1996 as a surgical nurse. Fox excels in patient care and consistently seeks opportunities to go above and beyond to exceed her patient’s expectations. After a brief period as an office nurse, she returned to the KishHealthSystem as a nursing supervisor at Valley West Community Hospital in 2003. The nurse of the year consistently models and exceeds our health system standards of behavior. She reaches out to patients, physicians and staff in her role as hospital supervisor. Fox recently obtained Trauma Nurse Specialist certification and entered into a bachelor’s completion program this spring.

“Cindy Fox exemplifies nursing excellence in every aspect,” said Pam Duffy, Vice President of Patient Care Services, who presented the award at the May 14, Employee Recognition Dinner. 

“She supports her peers in their times of need at work and outside of the hospital as well. In the past year, she has organized meals for a coworker in need and helped staff make arrangements for covering extra shifts, even working extra herself. She volunteers for holidays and flexes her personal schedule to meet the needs of the hospital in a variety of departments. She is a professional, peer, mentor and preceptor,” Duffy said.  

The Awards of Excellence recognize employees, teams and departments that have demonstrated significant achievement toward the health system’s organizational goals in the areas of Service, People, Quality, Finance and Growth. 

The Valley West Community Wellness department was awarded the Growth Pillar Award for its demonstrated improvement in all areas. The staff met increased demand for services, adapted to new technology, and worked to exceed patient, co-worker and physician expectations. With increasing competition, consumer demands for high quality care and service, political and economic realities, projecting a positive, professional image and offering the right services at the right times have become imperative to the success of the health system.  The Valley West Community Wellness department showed an increase in volumes of 964% to programs that directly impact our cardiac services.  And, they save lives.  Last year, a non-symptomatic person presented to our Cardiac HeartWise Evaluation program and was consequently referred for immediate open heart surgery that saved his life.  The professionalism, communication, and skill of the entire team, including scheduling staff, CT, phlebotomists, and nurses make this program successful.  

Finally, as part of our Health System strategic plan, the department was challenged to increase its Wellness for Kids program; the results showed an increase of 1,230% “Under the Growth Pillar we find goals that keep us moving toward the future and outside our comfort zone.  Growing volumes, increasing market share and increasing revenue are some of the challenging goals under this pillar,” said Joe Dant, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. “Once again, the HeartWise, Wellness for Kids, and other programs offered by our Community Wellness Department, increase awareness and utilization of our great organization.”

The Karen Sepaniak KishHealth System Spirit Award was also awarded. The award was created to honor and celebrate Sepaniak who worked at Valley West for more than thirty years. She passed away in July 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer. She lived the health system’s Standards of Behavior and brought a spirit of caring, compassion and loyalty to all that she did. The Karen Sepaniak Spirit Award was given to Mary Jane Hotopp, for her professionalism, positive attitude, communication skills and service to others. 

Presenter, Brad Copple, Valley West Administrator, said, “Hotopp brings her spirit to patient care. We often receive Patient Satisfaction results with comments like ‘Don’t ever retire.  I will never trust anyone like I trust you.’  And Mary Jane’s Patient Satisfaction results have been in the top 13% to top 1% for the past 4 years.” 

Hotopp contributes to the professional and personal development of others, and is looked to as an expert in patient satisfaction, a perfectionist in positioning, and quality control guru.  Her spirit shows in her desire to be adaptive, open to change, and to see “new and different” as an opportunity to grow and learn.  It is this spirit that is contagious to her co-workers and felt by her patients.  She cried with and for her patients and is known for her calmness and gift for knowing how to help patients through news that can be painful to hear.

Valley West Community Hospital is proud of Cindy Fox, RN, the Community Wellness department, Mary Jane Hotopp, and the many other employees that work hard to ensure quality care close to home. Valley West Community Hospital is part of the KishHealth System, and can be found online at 

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