Medically complex kids like Zuri demonstrate impact of using evidence-based practices in nation’s pediatric ICUs 


It was hard to know if baby Zuri or her twin brother, Zihir, would survive when they were born at 25 weeks gestation at a local hospital. Both babies required immediate newborn intensive care. Although Zihir was born with a hole in his heart (which has since been repaired by pediatric cardiovascular physicians at Wolfson Children’s Hospital), he was able to go home from the NICU. Zuri, on the other hand, had many more medical conditions because of her severe prematurity, including severe bronchial pulmonary dysplasia (a chronic lung disease), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs, bleeding in her brain, osteopenia (bone density that is lower than normal) and an umbilical hernia.

After a half-year stay in the NICU at UF Health Jacksonville, Zuri was transferred to the Wolfson Children’s Hospital Level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where she stayed for four months. The medically complex baby girl later was transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Wolfson Children’s, which is staffed and equipped to take care of her multiple medical needs. She recently celebrated her first birthday with the PICU staff, and due to the evidence-based practices approach used on the unit, she has grown bigger and stronger, and her Mom and twin brother look forward to her coming home in the near future.

The level of care provided at the PICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for children like Zuri was recently recognized by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), Aliso Viejo, Calif., with a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Wolfson Children’s PICU is the only children’s hospital in Florida to receive a gold-level award and one of only 300 intensive care units in the country (adult or pediatric) to receive a Beacon Award since 2010.

The Beacon Award for Excellence — a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and healthy work environments — recognizes unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s six Healthy Work Environment Standards. Units that achieve this three-year, three-level award with gold, silver or bronze designations meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

AACN President Teri Lynn Kiss, RN, MS, MSSW, CNML, CMSRN, applauds the commitment of the caregivers of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for working together to meet and exceed the high standards set forth by the Beacon Award for Excellence. These dedicated healthcare professionals join other members of the exceptional community of nurses who set the standard for optimal patient care.

“The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes. Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care,” she explained.

The gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence earned by the PICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital signifies excellent and sustained unit performance and patient outcomes. The unit earned a gold award by meeting the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria:

  1. Leadership Structures and Systems 
  2. Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement
  3. Effective Communication, Knowledge Management, Learning and Development
  4. Evidence-Based Practice and Processes
  5. Outcome Measurement

Michael O. Gayle, MD, chief of Pediatric Critical Care and medical director of Outreach and Transport at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, said the Beacon Award is a tremendous achievement. “It takes a special person to choose as their career to care for the sickest children,” he said. “The PICU team is comprised of some of the best children’s health care professionals in the region, and they are very deserving of this honor.”

Veronica Scott-Fulton, DNP, MPH, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of Operations and Patient Care Services at Wolfson Children’s, agreed. “The Beacon award is a testament to the commitment of the PICU’s multidisciplinary team in always seeking to enhance the care they provide to critically ill kids,” she said.

“This recognition by the AACN is based on data submitted by intensive care units across the nation, objectively measuring patient outcomes, as well as staff and parent satisfaction. Patients in our region benefit when children’s hospitals work together,” said Amber Mason, MSN, RN, CPN, NEA-BC, director of Pediatric Critical Care at Wolfson.

Pediatric critical care physician Solange Benjamin, MD, medical director of the PICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, said children like Zuri receive the best care because the team treats them like their own while combining their skills and experience in the critical care setting. “Zuri has progressed from being a very sick baby to doing things a normal child would do, like giving us lots of smiles and showing her playful personality,” she said. “We are proud of our team’s contribution to her recovery, and for the recognition the AACN has bestowed upon the unit.”

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