4 Nurses Honored for Kindness, Contributions to Field
May 7, 2024
Sutter Health
Photo collage of four nurses who won nurse of the year awards

By Stephanie Breitbart and Liz Madison, Vitals contributors

Picture some of life’s most vulnerable moments. A baby, only seconds old, drawing in their first breaths and bellowing out tiny cries. The grimaces and grunts of someone who, despite a traumatic fall, fiercely grips their walker and forces their feet forward during physical therapy. The quiet stillness of a room at dusk where a loved one who is near death lies more comfortably than ever, at home and in their own bed, thanks to hospice care.

What do these scenes have in common? More than likely a nurse bears witness to many of these moments, sharing their expertise and providing support to patients and families alike. This National Nurses Week, May 6 – 12, the country formally celebrates the profession. California-based, not-for-profit Sutter Health is no exception, recognizing all its nurses and naming four as its “Nurses of the Year.”

Filipino woman with long dark hair half up in a barrette and a patterned dress

Reggie Escobin

Nurse Demonstrates Unlimited Potential to Impact Health Equity

Nurses are always on a path of discovery. They conduct research. They take continuing education courses. The attentively examine changes in their patients’ vital signs. It’s this attention to detail that led Reggie Escobin, director of the medical-surgical unit and registered nurse at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, to have a clinical “a-ha!” moment on behalf of patients.

Escobin oversees wound care nurses as one of her many responsibilities. She noticed there was an increasing amount of patients with pressure ulcers in the unit. She closely worked with her team to apply process changes to help reduce the rates. Through continued research in this area, she found that people with darker pigmented skin had pressure ulcers at higher frequencies.

Since then, Escobin has worked diligently to bring awareness around these findings. The 20-plus-year Sutter nurse veteran has helped implement a standard work process to help reduce the pressure ulcer rates for these patients.

Southeastern Asian woman with dark hair pulled back in a bun smiles at the camera

Gurpreet Lakhat

Nurse’s Humble Presence Guides Families through Hospice

While there are those who may not think hospice care could be a positive experience, Gurpreet Lakhat is there to help prove otherwise. As a member of Sutter Care at Home’s Yuba City Hospice team, this registered nurse provides comfort and quality care during the most vulnerable time in a patient’s life.

Lakhat is described as going above and beyond for her patients daily. She consistently receives the highest compliments from family surveys for the dedication and care she provides. Her colleagues say she will drop everything and often go out of her way to ensure her patients are as comfortable as possible. Her compassionate care and excellent communication skills work wonders with families who often have difficult choices to make.

While having opportunities to explore careers outside of hospice, Lakhat’s commitment to her patients, her peers and the community drive her passion to stay.

 Learn more about a nursing career at Sutter

Asian woman with glasses and dark hair pulled into a bun smiles for the camera with pink balloons in the background

Jennifer Lieu

Nurse Seizes Opportunity to Better Educate Patients

Cancer care can be very complex. Jennifer Lieu, a registered nurse caring for patients with cancer in San Francisco as part of Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, understands that well. She recognizes her role requires clinical know-how and kindness to help patients and families from the time of diagnosis and through survivorship.

As cancer care also continues to advance, Lieu felt it was important for patients to have the most updated information. She saw a unique opportunity to refresh existing chemotherapy educational materials to highlight how patients can better care for themselves holistically while receiving chemotherapy treatment. Thanks to her innovative efforts, the clinic now offers more meaningful teaching materials in support of their patients’ needs.

The education doesn’t stop there for Lieu either. Her colleagues say she provides support and mentorship to new nurses even as she was very busy completing her doctor of nurse practitioner program.

Caucasian woman with blonde hair and navy blue shirt smiles for the camera

Debbie Sweet

Nurse Seen as ‘Force of Good’

Nursing’s simplest definition is helping people get better. Debbie Sweet, a registered nurse inside the intensive care unit at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, takes it further. Not only is she helping support patients healing, but she’s also sharing her knowledge with colleagues to ensure patients get the best care available.

Colleagues describe Sweet as an innovator, always looking for solutions and thinking outside the box. She shares opportunities while collaborating with peers to drive change. Her passion for improvement led her to help create a standardized orientation training program for her unit which focuses on consistency, quality and compassion. In addition, she regularly looks for opportunities to mentor other nurses on the floor, helping educate, guide and build their confidence. But just as easily, one will find her sitting with a patient explaining things in a way they can understand, demonstrating the power of how nurses can make a difference.

Awards Honor Nursing Philosophy

This is the fourth year of Sutter’s “Nurse of the Year” award program. The recipients were selected from more than 350 applicants nominated by their peers. Nurses are encouraged to nominate those who show curiosity and who are life-long learners and/or teacher and mentors; those who honor holistic care needs and who support evidence-based practices, as well as those who are strong advocates of patients and families.

“We are incredibly proud of all our 16,000 selfless nurses who provide high-quality, compassionate care for 3.4 million patients across Northern California,” said Anna Kiger, Sutter’s chief nurse officer. “We thank each one of our nurses for their talents, contributions and dedication to our patients, communities and each other. We salute this year’s winners and how they live Sutter’s values and our nursing philosophy each day.”





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