May 20th, 2008

Three Great River Medical Center nurses are among 100 Great Iowa Nurses chosen by the Iowa Nurses Association, Iowa Nurses Foundation, Iowa Hospital Association and University of Iowa College of Nursing. Awards are based on nurses’ concern for humanity, contributions to the nursing profession, and examples of leadership and mentoring.

The registered nurses are:
• Val Sanford, staff nurse, Women and Family Center
• Edna Smull, former vice president, Nursing
• Lora Stauffer, supervisor, Women and Family Center

The honorees represent 38 counties. The initial pool of 276 nominees came from 70 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The field was narrowed to 100 by a panel of judges, including nursing professionals and past years’ award winners.

“Val Sanford, Edna Smull and Lora Stauffer share a common theme in their nursing careers – a passion for patient care and high standards in clinical practice. They are great role models for the nursing profession,” said Teresa Colgan, vice president, Nursing. “The Nursing Department is delighted to have three Great River Medical Center nurses among the 100 Great Iowa Nurses.”

Val Sanford, RN
A Great River Medical Center nurse for 22 years, Val Sanford has developed expertise in emergency and obstetrical nursing. She has excellent critical-thinking skills, articulate speech and uses a commen-sense approach when teaching both staff and patients.

Sanford is a member of Southeast Iowa Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). Trained in debriefing, she has worked with soldiers returning from deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan, helping them ease into civilian life and preserve their families. She partcipates with local and state fire and police departments, the Iowa National Guard and emergency medicine caregivers, including ambulance and hospital staff.

Sanford eagerly seeks better communication and teaching to improve nursing care and patient outcomes. She is chairwoman of the Staff Development Council and Obstetrics Unit Planning Committee. She has been a preceptor to many new employees in Obstetrics and the Emergency Department. She has taught nonviolent crisis intervention, HazMat, trauma nurse care coordinator, advanced cardicac life support, pediatric advanced life support and neonatal resuscitation courses.

Sanford is highly regarded for her in-depth knowledge and skills in these areas. She continually pursues educational experiences to enhance her skills in nursing, and keeps up on nursing and medical research through various Web sites and readily shares the information she has learned.

Edna Smull, RN, BSN
Edna Smull has been described as the “essence and heart of nursing” at Great River Medical Center. She was hired as a unit clerk in 1975. While working and raising her three sons, she completed nursing school and became director of the Intensive Care Unit. She was Vice President of Nursing from 1999 to until she retired in late 2007. She encompassed caring, compassion and courage in her role.

Smull’s work as a bedside nurse was excellent, and she was a highly regarded preceptor and resource person. She took her ability to care for patients to her leadership role, wanting all to be successful in delivering the best care possible. She is known for her calm approach in critical situations, helping many scared nurses think critically through the ABCs of care, improving patient outcomes. She led by example, teaching with a kindness that promotes growth at all levels.

Smull’s passion for new technology, concepts and ideas changed cardiac and stroke care in the southeast Iowa area. She participated in several medication trials to help improve the treatment and outcomes for cardiac and critical-care patients. She taught one of the first and best cardiac courses in this hospital’s history and helped reduce “door-to-drug time” for heart attack and stroke treatment. Then she traveled throughout the region with another nurse to teach ambulance services about pre-hospital stroke care.

After retirement, Smull’s dedication to nursing continues. She has been a parish nurse at Christ Episcopal Church for many years and uses her knowledge and skill to care for and educate parishioners and the community. She considers it a blessing to serve others through nursing.

Lora Stauffer, RN
Lora Stauffer’s most significant contribution to nursing is her passion and skill for sharing knowledge about obstetrical nursing. She worked in acute care for one year before transferring to obstetrics in 1988. She is a skilled labor-and-delivery and neonatal intensive care nurse who is respected by coworker and physicians.

As a clinical supervisor, she demonstrates exceptional teaching skills and makes learning fun. She coordinates and teaches neonatal resuscitation program (NRP) certification classes for obstetrical, pediatric and emergency staff, and also provides NRP training for physicians who practice in the Women and Family Center. She provides a variety of educational opportunities during day, evening and night shifts to accommodate everyone.

Stauffer demonstrates her personal core value of serving and encouraging others daily. She sets high standards of care for the unit by practicing what she teaches, and her compassion for helping others extends to her coworkers, elderly neighbors, local high school and church.

Last summer, a pregnant woman was in a tragic car accident. The baby did not survive and the mother was in critical condition. Stauffer stayed many hours past her shift, answering questions and simply listening to a family with heavy, hurting hearts. She also provided updates on the condition of the sibling who also had been in the accident.

The family didn’t have a camera so Stauffer used her own camera to take pictures of the baby and family. She made prints at her own expense for the parents and grandparents. Then she worked with the chaplain to coordinate the baby’s funeral in the hospital chapel so the mother could attend.