News Release: Emory Healthcare

Oct. 4,  2010

Emory University Hospital Earns System's Third Beacon Award for Nursing Excellence

News Article ImageNurses from Emory University Hospital's Cardiac Critical Care Unit pose with the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

The Emory University Hospital Cardiac Critical Care Unit (3G/4G) has received the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) – formally recognizing the Emory team as one of the top intensive care units in the country.

The Beacon Award is Emory’s third, and only the sixth overall in Georgia. Emory University Hospital Midtown most recently earned Emory’s second award for its 71 Medical Intensive Care Unit. Emory University Hospital earned the system’s first Beacon Award in 2009 for its 4A/5A Cardiovascular-Thoracic Critical Care Unit.

Developed in 2003 by the AACN, the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence recognizes individual critical care units that meet high-quality standards, providing exceptional care of patients and patients’ families while fostering and sustaining healthy work environments. There are more than 6,000 Intensive Care Units in the United States, and less than 300 of those units have been recognized for excellence by this award.

“This is a tremendous recognition for Emory University Hospital and the nursing team on 3G/4G CCU, which has demonstrated a consistent drive and dedication toward delivering outstanding patient care for some of Emory’s most seriously ill patients and their families,” says Susan Grant, MS, RN, NEA, Emory Healthcare chief nursing officer.

“This represents the third such distinction for Emory in the last year - out of only six statewide – demonstrating that our nursing professionals continue to show their desire to deliver the highest quality care to our patients and to create a first class employment environment.”

"We have been working toward this designation since 2007 because we feel that such an honor is not only unique to very few nursing units across the country, but also shows our commitment to providing our patients and their families with the very best level of care possible,” says Yanxia Li, RN, CCRN, advance nurse clinician. “This is a unit that not only specializes in the treatment of heart-related patient care, including heart attacks, heart failure, difficult arrhythmias, and advanced interventional procedures, but it is also the unit that takes care of any other patient within the hospital requiring a bed. So we have developed the reputation of specializing in care for any situation. As a result of that flexibility and drive to tackle any challenge, everyone here shares an equal responsibility for providing excellent care in a team environment. I am incredibly proud of the hard work each member of our team has put into this award and, more importantly, how it represents the ideals we all share together.

“What can we do to make life better for our patients while making this a great place to work? That is the question that motivates us each day in 3G/4G CCU, and why we decided to pursue Beacon status,” says Unit Director Michelle Gray, RN, CCRN. “When you are committed to excellence, you want to share what you are doing right so that others can copy your success.

“By obtaining Beacon status, we are able to tell our story, which, in turn, motivates other nurses and units to strive for the same level of success on behalf of their own patients, units and hospitals. We were certainly driven when 4A/5A received Emory’s first Beacon Award last year. Their success made us proud as Emory nurses, and it motivated us even more to showcase what we are doing for our own patients.”

“When our patients and their loved ones choose Emory University Hospital to receive care – whether they travel across the state or across the street – they never ask what types of awards our nurses have earned, but they know that those nurses are providing them with the safest, most compassionate care possible,” says Robert Bachman, chief operating officer for Emory University Hospital.

“The men and women taking care of our patients earn that unique distinction, however, because of the outstanding job they are already doing, and as a way to better improve nursing care overall. At the end of the day, these patients know there is something special about the service they are receiving. The Beacon Award simply reaffirms what the patient already knows — that he or she is getting the very best.”

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 healing environments; 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.

The Emory 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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