RWJBarnabas Health nurses recognized with 2023 Professional Development Awards

Several RWJBarnabas Health nurses were recently recognized with 2023 Professional Development Awards by the New Jersey Emergency Nurses Association at the NJ ENA Emergency Care Conference in Atlantic City.

These awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of emergency nursing in the state and promote NJ ENA’s mission of advocating for patient safety and excellence in nursing practice.

Awards received include the Pediatric Readiness Award, the Advance Practice Nurse Award, the Clinical Nurse Leadership Award and the Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award.

“We are extremely proud of the amazing work our Emergency Department nurses do every day and are pleased to congratulate our NJ ENA award recipients on their achievements. This statewide recognition is a testament to the team’s hard work and the commitment our nurses have to their fellow clinicians, patients and the community,” Christopher Freer, senior vice president of emergency and hospitalist medicine at RWJBarnabas Health, said.

The Pediatric Readiness Award, which recognizes a nurse who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to improve readiness in caring for children in the emergency care setting, was given to Katarzyna Wolan of Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Partnering with pediatric Emergency Department physicians, Wolan led code simulations and facilitated restructuring of supplies and equipment. Her skills enable her to work and collaborate with a variety of health care professionals in the ED, transport and referring hospitals.

Kristen Denaro of Clara Maass Medical Center, won the Advance Practice Nurse Award, which recognizes nurses’ excellence and compassion as an advanced practice nurse in an emergency care setting. With Denaro’s strong clinical knowledge and outstanding bedside care, she is recognized for advancing the development of the ED. Denaro is highly regarded for supporting the development of the Express Care area to expedite patient care and trialing an area for low acuity patients where she acted as both the patients’ APN and ED Registered Nurse.

The Clinical Nurse Leadership Award was awarded to Maria Aponte, administrative director for Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center Emergency Department. This award recognizes a nurse who has consistently demonstrated excellence in the profession of emergency nursing and has made significant contributions through an emergency nursing management role. Aponte’s peers recognize her leadership, empathy, compassion and courage through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. She is a leader of her team as well as an active participant who holds the team accountable to yield impressive results.

Krystal Diaz, pediatric emergency nurse at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, was recognized with the 2023 Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award, which goes to a nurse who exemplifies outstanding emergency nursing practice as demonstrated through clinical skills, care and compassion. This nurse consistently performs above and beyond the requirements of the job description in delivering quality care to patients. Diaz, specializing in pediatrics and trauma, focuses on the wellness of patients, families and the team and approaches challenging situations with a positive and “can do” attitude. She is also highly regarded as a mentor who provides constructive feedback.

“The NJ ENA showcases the best of the best in the state, and the recognition of these four individuals is incredibly well-deserved,” Nancy Holecek, executive vice president and chief nursing officer at RWJBarnabas Health said. “Each of these outstanding nurses have made a difference this past year and it’s an honor for them to be acknowledged for their dedication, skill, compassion and contributions to the healthcare industry in New Jersey.”