Nursing earns gold

Unit was first ICU team in the state to earn top honor this year

By Kim Rose

The UF Health Shands Hospital Cardiac ICU team has earned a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. It is the first ICU team in the state to receive the gold honor this year, and only five gold designations were made to units in Florida.


The UF Health Shands Hospital Cardiac ICU team recently became the first ICU team in the state to earn a gold Beacon Award for Excellence.

A gold, silver or bronze Beacon Award is a three-year designation that recognizes teams that meet national criteria consistent with Magnet recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

“The Beacon Award is one of the nursing profession’s most respected awards for outstanding patient care,” said Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, UF Health Shands Hospital chief nursing officer and Nursing and Patient Services vice president. “This gold achievement reflects the dedication and superior performance of the Cardiac ICU team in providing the highest standards of heart and vascular care.”

The award also identifies healthy work environments that recognize unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN guidelines. Winning teams meet evidence-based criteria for leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development; and evidence-based practices and processes.

“Our nurses are committed to quality care, ethical practice and exceptional clinical results. The compassionate service they provide is at the heart of our patient experience,” said Ed Jimenez, UF Health Shands CEO. “The Cardiac ICU team exemplifies our nursing division’s mission of experienced care and expert caring here at UF Health Shands.”

UF Health Shands has more than 2,900 nurses practicing in hospitals and outpatient programs across Gainesville. They have achieved three consecutive Magnet designations from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Only 426 hospitals worldwide, and less than 7 percent of U.S. hospitals, have achieved this recognition. In addition to providing patient care, UF Health Shands Hospital nurses are also involved in robust clinical research, including 36 current nursing research studies.

“This award signifies a collaborative and supportive environment in the midst of a very high-acuity population,” said Brian McCain, B.S.N., R.N., CCRN, Cardiac ICU nurse manager. “We have a culture of teamwork and safety as we care for critically ill patients. I’m honored to be part of such a wonderful team.”

McCain also thanked Marcia Kent, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN, former nurse manager of the unit. “Without her dedication and efforts, this award would not have been possible,” he said.

UF Health Shands Hospital currently has four additional nursing care units with active Beacon Awards for Excellence: the Trauma/Lung Transplant Unit (gold), the Medical ICU (silver), the Neuro ICU (silver) and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (bronze).