Partnerships between nurses and physicians create value

Partnerships between nurses and physicians create value

Partnership is a key principle of The Christiana Care Way. Close, innovative partnerships among nurses and doctors improve care for patients and families. In December, Christiana Care recognized these partnerships with the Nurse-Physician Partner Awards. Members of two winning teams, Jennifer F. Cormier, RN, MSN, OCN, Department of Radiation Oncology, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, and Timothy J. Hennessy, M.D., of Wilmington Hospital, share their experiences:

Jennifer F. Cormier, RN, MSN, OCN
Jennifer F. Cormier, RN, MSN, OCN

Jennifer F. Cormier, RN, MSN, OCN, winner with radiation oncologist Adam Raben, M.D.:

The best patient care and outcomes result from treating the whole patient, not just the disease. This requires more than one specific expertise — be it a doctor’s or a nurse’s — and comes from partnership, collaboration and communication among medical staff and with patients and their families.

Dr. Raben specializes in head and neck cancers, which require intense nursing intervention and detailed care documentation. Dr. Raben and I communicate regularly about our patients to determine whether there are additional services that will improve their care. We respect each other’s insights and recognize that both of us contribute valuable information to the ultimate end goal for our patients: to help them get back to their regular lives.

Cancer care is very much a give-and-take process. Sharing information, observations and experiences makes a huge difference in outcomes for the people we serve. Dr. Raben educates his team about the most recent research and treatment protocols and works with his team to understand why we are doing what we do — and he wants our feedback.

Of course, we are lucky to be part of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, which is designed for multidisciplinary care. Our Radiation Oncology group is part of a much larger team that addresses every aspect of cancer care, from the perspective of medical specialists and supportive service providers.

Timothy J. Hennessy, M.D.
Timothy J. Hennessy, M.D.

Timothy J. Hennessy, M.D., winner with Frances Dailey, BSN, RN, BC, CNSC, of the Center for Advanced Joint Replacement:

Today, to provide value to patients, teamwork among doctors and nurses is crucial.

Take, for example, the genesis of the Center for Advanced Joint Replacement’s standard treatment of hyponatremia, an abnormality that yields low sodium levels in many joint-replacement patients after surgery. Traditionally, we treated hyponatremia in a variety of ways, including adding or restricting fluid or changing medicines. Nurses’ observations of this inconsistency led a team of us from different disciplines, including Frances Dailey, BSN, RN, BC, CNSC, Nadine Fiske, ANP, and nephrologist Arun Malhotra, M.D., to look for a way to safely and efficiently reverse hyponatremia before the patient becomes symptomatic.

Together, we identified an algorithm for a universal approach to addressing patterns of low sodium that lead to hyponatremia. Each time a patient’s sodium level falls below 135, we give the patient protein powder to correct the issue. During our 18-month study of this approach, 82 percent of the patients receiving protein experienced a reversal of sodium levels, compared with 60 percent of patients receiving traditional treatments.

This course of care is a safe, effective and inexpensive solution to a complex problem. Nurses were instrumental in developing it. They recognized the initial problem and collected the data for a solution that has improved recovery for patients and eliminated additional costs from consultation fees, costly medications and prolonged lengths of stay associated with hyponatremia. This partnership successfully created value for patients and families, care providers and the health system.

Photo gallery: Nurse-Physician Partner Awards

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 2013 Nurse-Physician Partner Award Winners

Surgical Critical Care Complex

  • Louise Fagraeus, RN
  • Luis Cardenas, D.O., Ph.D.

Cardiovascular Critical Care Complex

  • Margaret Greenfield, RN
  • Kevin Copeland, D.O.

 HVIS Prep & Hold

  • Laura Dechant, RN
  • Brian Sarter, M.D.

Center for Heart & Vascular Health

  • Debbi Chiappardi-Williams, RN
  • Andrew Doorey, M.D.

Neuro Critical Care

  • Patricia Fenimore, RN
  • David Ethan Kahn, D.O.

Labor & Delivery

  • Deborah Harvey, RN
  • Julia Mattson, M.D.

3B Maternity

  • Linda Louie, RN
  • Laura Lawler, M.D.

3D Pulmonary Stepdown

  • Megan Smakulski, RN
  • Sajid Noor, D.O.

3E Medical ICU

  • Carol Ritter, RN
  • Badrish Patel, M.D.

4A General Pediatrics

  • Michelle Chau, RN
  • Laura Lawler, M.D.

5A Medical Stepdown

  • Brittney Henning, RN
  • Heather Ragozine-Bush, M.D.

5B Medical

  • Robert Onyango, RN
  • James Piacentine, D.O.


  • Heather Powell, RN
  • Thomas Mathew, M.D.

5D Medical

  • Barbara Marandola, RN
  • Vijaya Surekha Bhamidipati, M.D.

5E/Heart Failure

  • Martha Drejka, RN
  • Meenakshi Bhalla, M.D.


  • Linda Sydnor, RN
  • Patricia Curtin, M.D.

6C Medical

  • Erin D’Amore, RN
  • Jonathan Raser-Schramm, M.D., Ph.D.


  • Carol Hart, RN
  • Kambiz Butt, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Emergency Department Nursing

  • Kimberly King, RN
  • Christopher Biedrzycki, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Emergency Department Nursing

  • Kimberly King, RN
  • Christopher Biedrzycki, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Operating Room

  • Jane Hall, RN
  • John Brebbia, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Post Anesthesia

  • Alexandra Colin, RN
  • Thomas Scott, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Radiology

  • Shari Bucci, RN
  • Randall Ryan, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Surgical Services

  • Elizabeth Vitalo, RN
  • Tuhina Raman, M.D.

Christiana Surgicenter

  • Jackie Nicoletti, RN
  • Bruce Benge, M.D.

MICN Ambulance

  • ORA Nichols, RN
  • Erin Watson, M.D.

4 Medicine

  • Adam Ashby, RN
  • Thomas Mueller, M.D.

6 South Stepdown

  • Alyssa Zuka, RN
  • Arun Malhotra, M.D.


  • Genita Vandell, RN
  • Mariam Mammen, M.D.

Center for Advanced Joint Replacement

  • Frances Dailey, RN
  • Timothy Hennessy, M.D.

Center For Rehabilitation

  • Nancy Pahnke, RN
  • Kelly Eschbach, M.D.

Wilmington Hospital ICU

  • Karen Ellis-Brisbon, RN
  • Michael Benninghoff, D.O.

Wilmington Hospital Emergency Department Nursing

  • Sarah Flanders, RN
  • Christian Coletti, M.D.

Wilmington Hospital Post Anesthesia

  • Ellen Rombach, RN
  • Scott Thomas, M.D.

AIDS Care Coordinator

  • Arlene Bincsik, RN
  • Susan Szabo, M.D.

Cancer Care Management

  • Tina Scherer, RN
  • Mihir Thacker, M.D.

Cardiology Consultants Administration

  • Mary Zita Guest, RN
  • Lawrence Narun, M.D.

Weight Management Center

  • Colleen Crist, RN
  • James Lenhard, M.D.

Christiana Hospital Hemodialysis

  • Penny Miller, RN
  • Jeffrey Cicone, M.D.


  • Sarah Drummonds, RN
  • Roger Kerzner, M.D.

GI Lab

  • Jean Fitzpatrick, RN
  • Manivanh Keobounnam, M.D.

HealthCare Center at Christiana Physician Practice

  • Catherine Moxham, RN
  • Dawn Hirokawa, M.D., MPH

Infection Prevention

  • Kathleen Wroten, RN
  • Marci Drees, M.D.

IT Clinical Informatics

  • Elizabeth Brady, RN
  • Omar Khan, M.D.

IV Nursing

  • Carol Abdill, RN
  • Michael Sneider, M.D.

Neuro Interventional Radiology

  • Timothy Eden, RN
  • Sudhakar Satti, M.D.

Nursing Quality & Safety

  • Carmen Pal, RN
  • Omar Khan, M.D.

Nursing Administration

  • Donna Casey, RN
  • Vinay Maheshwari, M.D.


  • Sheila Mathis, RN
  • Pecos Olurin, M.D.

Outpatient Pulmonary

  • Sharon Jones, RN
  • Gerald O’Brien, M.D.

Pain & Palliative Care Practice

  • Shirley Brogley, RN
  • David Amato, D.O.

Parent Education

  • Karen Hall, RN
  • Deborah Tuttle, M.D.

Radiation Oncology Cancer

  • Jennifer Cormier
  • Adam Raben, M.D.

Roxana Cannon Arsht Surgicenter

  • Sherian Lucchetta, RN
  • Susan Pugliese, D.D.S.

VAD Program

  • Deborah Dougherty, RN
  • Mitchell Saltzberg, M.D.

VNA New Castle

  • Emily Schroeder, RN
  • Mark Trochimowicz, M.D.

Wilmington Health Center Internal Medicine

  • Lisa Wallace, RN
  • Julie Silverstein, M.D.

Wilmington Health Center Medical Service

  • Melissa Crisconi, RN
  • Shirley Klein, M.D.

Wilmington Health Center Medical Service

  • Crystal Pollock, RN
  • Sarah Schenck, M.D.

Wilmington School Based Center

  • Martha Coppage-Lawrence, RN
  • Mary Stephens, M.D.


  • Denise Lyons, RN
  • Patricia Curtin, M.D.