Nursing Awards

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award:
Janis Berend, CNP (Adult Clinic)

Janis is an expert in the diagnosis and management of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and COPD. She answers calls from around the world regarding the genetics of alpha-1, interpretation of diagnostic tests and therapy for the deficiency. Berend is the consummate patient advocate. She forms support groups in Colorado, advocates for therapy with insurance companies and helps uninsured patients get medications. Berend frequently lectures about her extensive experience and helped in the preparation of the Alpha-1 Foundation nurse education program. “I have seen Janis travel to meetings throughout the country, where she is often the center of other health care providers’ attention as they ask questions and share their experiences,” said Sandy Sandhaus, MD, director of the Alpha-1 Program at National Jewish Health. Janis also took over the smoking-cessation program at National Jewish Health and continues to run the successful educational endeavor.

2013 Outstanding Nurse of the Year:
Lori Mahoney, RN (Oncology)

Lori is an excellent oncology infusion nurse who consistently demonstrates her patient care and management skills. She shares her knowledge of  chemotherapy side effects, nutrition and symptom management with patients, their families and her fellow nurses. Lori talks to patients about their depression and other social stressors that she notices during chemotherapy infusion, which can last several hours. She even calls those patients after their infusions to ensure they are well. Patients often compliment Lori on her important role in their treatment and tell her that they are grateful for her presence. To enhance her skill set, she attends oncology nursing events regularly, and she is a valuable contributor to team discussions about patient care. 

Other nominees for 2013 RN of the Year:

Diane Payne
Jean Glock
Ann Mullen
Toni Kuper
Janet Schirenbeck
Beth Richey
Jennifer Fish
Amy Schouten
Mary Jo Johnson
Kaci Chacon
Beth Roscrow
Susan Walsh
Nancy Grier
Wendy Sherman
Seth Zunker
Kathy Pond
Sarah Brayshaw
Ann Hefel
Sharon Baker
Gail Noble
Becky McCarty
Cathy Chacon

2013 Outstanding Patient Care Assistant
of the Year: Grace Salazar, CNA (Pediatric Clinic)

In the pediatric clinic, Grace's immediate response to patient concerns brought her praise from her coworkers, who noted that she finds the people or resources that can alleviate those concerns. Salazar is confident in her customer service skills and is always ready to problem solve and take responsibility, focusing on service recovery to make sure all patients leave satisfied. Grace loves to share her knowledge of skin testing and her role in general as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). After she assisted a new CNA with her training, that person expressed her gratitude for the patience and caring Salazar showed. Her skill level allows her to provide excellent care to National Jewish Health patients.

Other nominees for 2013 Patient Care of the Year Award:

Yorbalinda Caylor, MA
Dawn Wyatt, MA
Naomi Birdsong, MA
Steven Pierce, UC
Leslie Schauman, RT
Shelly Wallace, MA
Krista Keefe, MA
Jessica Thomasson, MA
Sarah Weddington, MA
Elizabeth Klopper, PA

2012 Outstanding Nurse of the Year:
Deb Fending, RN, AE-C

Deb Fending, RNDeborah Fending has worked at National Jewish Health for the past 27 years in multiple areas. She worked in pediatrics (when it was on the eighth floor), pediatric clinic, Lung Line® and the Toolkit Programs. She also has participated in the Community Outreach Program and trained staff in smoking cessation for Quit Line. Deborah is a certified asthma educator who presents locally and nationally.


2012 Outstanding Patient Care Assistant:
Kelly Seeley

Kelly Seeley has worked at National Jewish Health for two years and has impacted patient care in that time. Colleagues have written, “Kelly is a huge asset to the PCU team. She is so good with the kids and their families. She is always willing to go above and beyond for each family to help make them comfortable and meet their needs." Kelly took on the huge responsibility of organizing all of our skin testing materials, ensuring patient safety in the process by creating a simple system to check expiration dates of the antigen vials and keeping the trays clean and organized. Kelly has certainly developed some expertise in her role since she has been at National Jewish Health. She stands out as a leader and her colleagues – including MDs, RNs, and PCAs – go to her often with questions. She is very approachable and always willing to share her knowledge.”

2011 Grete H. Cohnen Nursing Scholarship

Rachel VichorekThe Department of Nursing is thrilled to announce that the 2011 recipient of the Grete H. Cohnen Nursing Scholarship is Rachel Vichorek. Rachel has worked at National Jewish Health for the last four years as a patient administrative coordinator and has been a volunteer reading buddy in the Kunsberg School for the last three years.

Rachel says that becoming a nurse has been a long-time personal goal, and she hopes to use this education to give back to the community. She feels that the degree will give her the opportunities to develop leadership skills and give compassionate and quality care to patients. She is in the nursing program at College America and will graduate with an Associate Degree in Nursing in May 2012. Please join us in congratulating Rachel on this award!

Previous Recipients

Outstanding Nurse

  • 2011: Roxann Rupp, RN
  • 2010: Joe Kunisch, RN
  • 2009: Kaci Morgan, RN - ILD Program
  • 2008: Sara Brayshaw, MS, RN - Adult CF Program
  • 2007: Agnes Wooster, RN - Adult Asthma/Allergy Clinic
  • 2006: Ev Whelan, RN
  • 2005: Kathy Pond, RN, BSN, AE-C
  • 2004: Beth Johnson, RN

Outstanding Patient Care Assistant

  • 2011: Su Pinfield-Clark
  • 2010: Jeanann Jones and Ann Romero
  • 2009: Jessica Thomasson, MA - MIDC
  • 2008: James Hoff
  • 2007: Dawn Wyatt, MA - Occupational Medicine
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