News Release: Emory Healthcare

May 4,  2010

Emory University Hospital Midtown Nursing Unit Wins Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence

News Article ImageEmory University Hospital Midtown

Emory University Hospital Midtown's 71 Medical Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has received the prestigious Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). The achievement process, which took more than two years to complete, formally recognizes the Emory University Hospital Midtown team as one of the top intensive care units in the country.

Launched in 2003 by the AACN, the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence recognizes individual critical care units that meet high-quality standards and provide exceptional care of patients and patients' families, while fostering and sustaining healthy work environments. There are an estimated 6,000 intensive care units in the United States, and only 242 of those units have been recognized for excellence by this award.

This is the first Beacon Award given to an ICU at Emory University Hospital Midtown, and the second award given within Emory Healthcare.

"It is an honor to receive this highly sought-after award, after months and months of perfecting our skills and enhancing our knowledge of caring for our patients," says Georgia F. Jackson, BSN, RN, MPH, unit director of 71 medical ICU. "This evidence-based quality award shows the dedication and commitment our nursing staff has for our sickest patients and their families. It also enhances patient outcomes, as well as professional practice."

Jackson says the team of 67 registered nurses, nurse technicians and unit clerks in the ICU focused on keeping infection rates low for better quality of care for the patients. Lower infection rates mean less complications and shorter stays in the hospital for these patients.

Jackson, along with a smaller team of three, including Debbie Barker, BSN, RN, CCRN, shift manager; Geneiveve Smith, BSN, RN, CCRN, nurse scholar; and Bobby Wright, MSN, RN, MBA, director of Critical Care Services at Emory University Hospital Midtown, made up the core group of writers for the Beacon Award document.

"From creating a more healing environment to obtaining specialty education in support of its professional practice, this nursing unit is committed to delivering the highest quality of care to our patients," says Mary Gullatte, PhD, RN, APRN, BC, associate chief nursing officer at Emory University Hospital Midtown. "I am very proud of this multi-disciplinary health care team in garnering this prestigious AACN Beacon designation."

To receive the Beacon Award, a unit must meet 42 different criteria in six categories - including innovation/excellence in recruitment and retention; education, training, and mentoring; evidence-based practice and research; patient outcomes; creating and promoting a healing environment; and leadership and organizational ethics. Because the award program provides nursing care units a way to better measure their systems, outcomes and environment, this award is increasingly linked to patient quality and safety initiatives.

Susan Grant, MS, RN, NEA, chief nursing officer, Emory Healthcare, says, "For patients and families, the Beacon Award signals better care, improved outcomes and higher satisfaction while hospitalized. For the nursing staff receiving the award, the designation highlights a team spirit with emphasis on collaboration and creates a better more supportive work environment for our nurses and other team members. This is a wonderful accomplishment and we are proud of 71 ICU."

Dane Peterson, chief operating officer, Emory University Hospital Midtown, says, "This is a marvelous honor for a very dedicated and hard-working group of employees in our medical ICU. Our patients benefit greatly from their teamwork and level of success."

The Beacon Award is designated for one year, and units must re-apply annually to continue their designation. As part of the overall evaluation process, an expert panel reviews each application against national quality standards measures. The association removes all references to the facility or location to avoid bias and protect the unit's confidentiality.

AACN is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, representing the interests of more than 500,000 nurses who are charged with the responsibility of caring for acutely and critically ill patients. The association is dedicated to providing members with the knowledge and resources necessary to provide optimal care to critically ill patients. 


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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