ChristianaCare CVCCC Hits Grand Slam With 4th Consecutive Beacon Award

For the fourth consecutive time, ChristianaCare’s Cardiovascular Critical Care Complex (CVCCC) has earned a gold-level Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

The award recognizes the CVCCC’s caregiver-driven excellence to maintain optimal patient outcomes, support interprofessional involvement in the unit’s ongoing quality improvement work and create an environment where caregivers feel proud to serve.

Alexis Caccavale, BSN, RN, CCN, and Jana Dean, MSN, RN, CCRN, worked on the unit’s application to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses for the Beacon award.

The CVCCC first earned the three-year gold honor — the highest recognition of the critical care nursing profession — in 2013. This most recent award is through 2026.

“This award really reflects the quality of nurses and the teamwork that takes place every day on this unit,” said Allison Steuber, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nurse manager of the CVCCC.

“Our nurses here care for some of the sickest patients that you’ll ever see in a hospital, and the fact that we can do that with such high quality of care, and still maintain a healthy work environment is a testament to their abilities. They are truly the best of the best.”

Excelling through change

“The Beacon Award recognizes serving together with excellence and love,” said Chief Nurse Executive Danielle Weber, MSN, MSM, RN-BC, NEA-BC.

“These outstanding caregivers established evidence-based processes and systems to serve patients and families at the most vulnerable time in their lives. This recognizes the professional dedication that the CVCCC nursing team demonstrates in going above and beyond to provide respectful, expert care.”

The 26-bed CVCCC provides evidence-based intensive care for critically ill cardiac medical and surgical patients, including those treated for myocardial infarction, acute decompensated heart failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, post-cardiovascular intervention and post-cardiothoracic surgery.

The unit also provides specialized care for patients requiring cardiac-assist devices — such as bridge-to-transplant and destination left-ventricular-assist device (LVAD), extra corporeal membrane oxygenation and intra–aortic balloon pumps.

In recognizing the CVCCC with the Beacon Award, the AACN noted the high level of collaboration that exists among caregivers on the unit, including interprofessional rounds and care transition planning. New caregivers learn about the unit during an eight-hour “Welcome to the CVCCC Class,” along with opportunities for nurse mentorship.

Twice-daily huddles, a skill-driven staffing process and regular caregiver check-ins all provide opportunities for open conversation and transparency of data reporting. These and other collaborative practices have maintained good patient outcomes, the AACN noted, despite the impact of COVID-19 on health care.

Teamwork built into caregiver culture

Allison Steuber, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nurse manager of the CVCCC, said the pandemic prompted unexpected changes for caregivers, such as moving unit locations and caring for other patient populations in addition to cardiovascular patients.

CVCCC’s unit leadership works closely together to address upcoming patient issues, caregiver training and ways to improve patient outcomes. Back row: Angela Garcia, RN, assistant nurse manager; Ryan Miller, MSN, RN, CCRN, assistant nurse manager. Front row: Marie Cassalia, MSN, RN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN-CSC, WTA, clinical nurse specialist; Allison Steuber, MSN, RN, NE-BC, nurse manager; and Catherine Mazzella, RN, CCRN, CCRC, CV-BC, nursing professional development specialist.

Even though the biggest threats from the pandemic have receded, the unit continues to care for patients with more serious problems and complications, she added. Caregivers have not only met these challenges in patient care, they also support one another through communication, transparency and ongoing development.

“The Beacon Award demonstrates the ability of this team to overcome obstacles and to continue to deliver exceptional care to our patients while also supporting each other.”

— Allison Steuber, MSN, RN, NE-BC

“There are more challenges we’ll face in the future. But I think that this award demonstrates the ability of this team to overcome obstacles and to continue to deliver exceptional care to our patients while also supporting each other,” Steuber said.

The CVCCC’s consistently strong performance in the Beacon Awards also is an indicator of the environment that has been created on the unit over the years, said Ryan Miller, RN, CCRN, assistant nurse manager.

“This award represents the incredible work that these nurses do day in and day out, from the first Beacon designation to now the fourth,” he said.

“The care has been exceptional. The team has been exceptional and that’s why we have incredible outcomes.”