September 2014, Newton, NJ – Denise Fochesto, one of Atlantic Health System’s most accomplished nurse leaders, has been named a national winner of Nurse.com’s Giving Excellence Meaning (GEM) Awards. Fochesto will receive the National GEM Award in the “Patient and Staff Management” category. Earlier this year, she was named Director of Nursing and Operations at Newton Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, following her tenure working at Newton Medical Center’s sister hospital, Morristown Medical Center.
The GEM Award honors exceptional nurses from all specialties and practice settings, culminating in the naming of regional winners in six categories. Six national winners are then selected for each category. Fochesto was selected for the regional award in the category of “Patient and Staff Management” in June, for her work at Morristown Medical Center, where she last served as manager of the 22-bed Surgical/Trauma/Neuro Intensive Care Unit; the 10-bed Medical Intensive Care Unit; Hyperbaric Medicine Department; and Nursing Resource Center prior to her move to Newton Medical Center.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized with this prestigious award among so many exceptional nurses throughout the country,” Fochesto said. “Working to improve care and make the patient experience the best it can be is a truly rewarding experience, and I have been fortunate to do so now at both Newton and Morristown medical centers.”
As a member of the Morristown Medical Center Magnet Steering Committee, Fochesto participated in the Magnet nursing designation at that hospital, a designation achieved by only two percent of hospitals worldwide. She was also involved in implementing Morristown Medical Center’s shared governance model. Under her leadership, Morristown’s hyperbaric medicine services received accreditation with distinction from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society. Her achievements include managing patient-endowed staff education funds for critical-care nursing staff to promote continuing education and certification. At the time of Fochesto’s nomination for the award, 69 ICU nurses were certified in critical care — with nine nurses holding dual certification — and 100 percent of the ICU nursing leadership team had completed MSN degrees and professional certification. Trish O’Keefe, RN, the Chief Nursing Officer at Morristown Medical Center, whom Fochesto credited as “a role model for staff development,” lauded Fochesto as most deserving of the award.
“We are so proud of this amazing accomplishment for Denise. She is the driving force behind multiple quality initiatives for patients that have improved both the quality of care and measurable patient, family and staff outcomes,” O’Keefe said. During her interim leadership of the orthopedic surgery department, Fochesto served as project leader for Joint Commission accreditation for disease-specific certification for total hip and knee replacement and for lumbar and cervical spine disease-specific certification. She is proud that both certifications have been renewed by her successors.As a manager of the nursing education department from 2001 to 2009, Fochesto sought support to fund and develop a simulation laboratory. This lab allows for a safe environment to teach and practice clinical skills prior to actual patient care. A grant proposal and business plan she wrote secured funds for an animal-assisted activities program to enhance the healing experiences of patients and families. The project was adopted in all Atlantic Health System hospitals and extended to create a center of excellence for animal-assisted therapy.
Fochesto will accept the award at the GEM Award Celebration in October.