RWJUH Somerset Nurses Score Top Honors Again

RWJUH Somerset orthopedic nurse Meaghan Barber- Badger, RN, BSN, tends to patient Mark Runyon of Somerville.

Third straight Magnet designation means quality care for patients.

Nurses have been called the backbone of healthcare. At Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset, they not only provide vital care at the bedside but also promote community health, improve patient care, enhance safety, support diversity and inclusion, educate staff, provide leadership and more.

As a result of such efforts, RWJUH Somerset has earned Magnet recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for the third consecutive time. The designation is the nation’s most prestigious nursing honor—one that only 9 percent of hospitals nationwide have achieved.

“The Magnet tenets are embedded in our culture and are something our nurses truly embody every day,” says Michael Valendo, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CEN, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing, RWJUH Somerset. Tenets include exemplary professional practice, transformational leadership, shared decision-making and an organizational structure that empowers nurses.

“These processes allow us to achieve exceptional patient outcomes, which are significant indicators of nursing care quality,” Valendo says. Key outcomes reported by Magnet hospitals include higher scores for patient safety, fewer complications and shorter hospital stays.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s executive team and nursing leadership team celebrate receiving Magnet designation for nursing excellence. Seated left to right are Salvatore Moffa, MD, Chief Medical Officer; Tony Cava, President and Chief Executive Officer; Jamie Perry, Assistant Vice President of Nursing; Michael Valendo, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing; Eileen Allen, Magnet Program Coordinator; and Kathy Easter, Assistant Vice President, Nursing Excellence.

Promoting Health

RWJUH Somerset’s 650 nurses achieved Magnet status even while facing an unprecedented pandemic, continuing to serve a variety of roles throughout the hospital. Roles include inpatient, surgical and emergency care; behavioral health; outpatient services; care management; education; clinical research; infection prevention; quality improvement; patient experience; patient navigation services; information technology services; community outreach; and administration.

“From our perspective, nursing is as much about health promotion and wellness as it is about managing disease,” says Jamie Perry, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Assistant Vice President of Nursing, RWJUH Somerset.

The ANCC gave high marks for the hospital’s use of business resource groups (BRGs) such as the Asian Society for Impact and Advocacy Network (ASIAN), Advancing Women through Advocacy, Recognition and Empowerment (AWARE), the Black Professionals Network (BPN) and Service and Advocacy for Latinos United for Development (SALUD). Such groups not only support employees, foster career development and contribute to cultural sensitivity, but also can advance public health goals.

In one example, SALUD helped the hospital reach Latino communities especially hard hit by COVID-19. “In cooperation with our Community Health and Diversity and Inclusion teams, members of the SALUD BRG participated in activities to distribute masks and hand sanitizer, and do community education about hygiene, transmission and social distancing,” Valendo says. “They gave away thousands of masks and interacted with thousands of people, and we saw a significant drop in hospitalizations among that population.”

“It’s a remarkable accomplishment for our nurses to be recognized as the best in their profession—not just once, but three times in a row,” says Tony Cava, President and Chief Executive Officer, RWJUH Somerset. “We are so proud of our entire nursing team for their dedication to our patients and their commitment to providing the highest quality care.”

How a Magnet Hospital Benefits Patients

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Somerset’s Magnet recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) reflects better outcomes for patients. Among them:

  • Exemplary care: Magnet hospitals score well on quality indicators such as catheter- and line-associated infections, hospital-acquired pressure injuries and patient falls. “Quality care reduces complications, hospital stays and readmissions,” says Michael Valendo, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing.
  • Efficient service: RWJUH Somerset had low rates of patients leaving the Emergency Department (ED) without care thanks to multidisciplinary collaboration between physicians, nurses, the ED and radiology and inpatient units to keep patient flow high and wait times low.
  • Innovative practices: RWJUH Somerset nurses are empowered to provide ideas, solutions and leadership to improve care. For example, placing or removing an “M” on a board to indicate whether people understand a new medication has helped ensure that RWJUH Somerset patients know what drugs they take, why they take them and what side effects to watch for.
  • Stable staffing: Magnet designation helps hospitals attract and retain nurses. “Even during COVID, we’ve been able to attract talent,” Valendo says.

Learn more information about Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, including job opportunities for nurses.