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Upstate presents Presidential Employee Recognition Awards

Dozens of employees, representing numerous hospital and campus departments, have been honored with Presidential Employee Recognition awards. The awards were was presented during an event, held June 29 in the Academic Building.

Winners of the Presidential Employee Awards for 2022 are:

Campus Employee of the Year: Jennifer Brennan

Jennifer Brennan is known as meticulous, organized, and excellent at communicating. She exemplifies the positive energy and "above-and-beyond" approach that this award recognizes. Earlier this year, the MD/PhD program was left without a coordinator in the middle of interview/acceptance season. Brennan took on the role of executive coordinator in the College of Graduate Studies (COGS). This effort alone includes many responsibilities and much coordination with masters', PhD, and MD/PhD students across several departments and colleges. She implemented a notable improvement to the COGS registration process by including individual meetings with all students twice per year.

Campus Team of the Year: Upstate Cancer Center Clinical Research Team

The Upstate Cancer Center Clinical Research Team is instrumental in carrying out high-quality clinical trials for Upstate Cancer Center patients. The team also provides investigators with invaluable support to bring cutting-edge research to Upstate. This team comprises clinical research associates and administrative staff. Together, they do the administrative and regulatory work of opening trials, assisting patients and providers with complex scheduling for investigational protocols, and work with pharmacy to ensure that investigational drugs are available for patients. They also collect data and work with trial sponsors to ensure data integrity. Each clinical research associate has expertise within hematology/oncology, allowing the team to identify patients and facilitate enrollment in clinical trials. Clinical trials allow our patients to access treatment that may become a new and better standard of care.

Non-Clinical Leader of the Year: Loretta Harris

Loretta Harris has performed in an exemplary fashion in Institutional Compliance and Ethics. She spends tireless hours keeping up to date with the regulations that govern compliance and ethics, not only for University Hospital, but also Upstate Medical University. She encourages her staff to seek out additional educational opportunities. She participates in many institutional fundraisers including: Compliance Team Leader for both the annual Breast Cancer Walk and Heart Walk, and is on the board of Cancer Survivors Day Committee. She is also a Department Representative for Upstate’s Community Giving Campaign.

Clinical Leader of the Year: Carol Matkoski

Carol Matkoski has been described as “an unsung hero” during her 30 years’ service at Upstate. She was nominated for her professional leadership, selflessness and integrity in building a cohesive, well-functioning team in the Microbiology laboratory. Her lab took up the constant challenges of Covid-19 and surpassed with excellence. She was instrumental in bringing in-house testing capabilities for Covid, managing supply chain issues and requirements for her staff, 24/7. She prioritized Covid testing that changed daily and was responsible for daily Covid briefings with multiple laboratories and leadership groups. Her leadership and service during a period of extreme volume and a constantly changing landscape allowed her team to work through barriers so that patients who needed results quickly were able to obtain them.

Non-Clinical Employee of the Year: Brian Pratt

Brian Pratt has demonstrated sterling leadership in multiple, high impact and vital programs that has led Upstate through unprecedented Covid-19 challenges. His background in nursing, systems management, disaster response and logistics—coupled with his interpersonal skill and creative thinking has made Pratt the “go-to guy” for hospital leadership at a time when complex new initiatives were needed.

Pratt was tapped as “the architect” for Upstate’s Covid response when the university became the Central New York vaccination hub. He worked closely with Infection Prevention and Materials Management to manage the Incident Command response and supply chain. He coordinated efforts across five counties, five distinct health departments, and 366 vaccinating organizations in Central New York.

Clinical Team of the Year: Child Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service

The Child Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service Team comprises an impressive group of professionals under the direction of Drs. Christopher Lucas and Jennifer Rapke. The team handles the assessment and care of children under age 18 who come to our hospital with complex behavioral and mental health needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of mental health crises has skyrocketed. There are more complex patients with severe mental illnesses, suicidal depression and critical eating disorders. Statistics show that this team has treated 200 more patients than last year. The team has exercised critical thinking, innovation, and excellence while maintaining a high standard of compassionate care for patients and families.

Team of the Year—Non-Clinical: Clinical Engineering Department

The Clinical Engineering Department works behind the scenes to ensure that staff have the necessities to care for patients. Led by Allison White and Keith Roach, the department has developed innovative efforts for patients’ technical supports. Comprised primarily of technical individuals focused on repairing and inspecting an inventory of more than 23,000 medical devices, the staff members provide many service needs for multiple specialties. This team has transformed itself from a repair and maintenance service to a leader in equipment acquisition, management and integration. Their efforts have improved the accuracy of medical data and relieved clinical staff of time-consuming documentation requirements.

Community Service of the Year Team: Regional Perinatal Center

To foster greater camaraderie, the center staff members initiated a strong community service focus. Staff members was asked to donate $1 for a specific cause and wear a color that highlighted that cause. The result—they supported a rainbow of causes and supported many worthy organizations. They raised awareness, donated to causes, highlighted patients, supported needs in the community, and brightened holidays for 72 families and 180 children through the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center. Another gift to Sarah’s Guest House helped 1,100 guests have a peaceful place to rest their heads at night, be nourished with home-cooked meals and receive transportation for medical care.

Outstanding Contribution of the Year: COVID Testing Initiative

The Covid-19 pandemic brought many unexpected challenges requiring numerous teams to work together and implement new processes quickly. The Covid Testing Initiative provided invaluable knowledge, adaptability and outside-the-box thinking as members kept employees and community safe. This team came together to support employees, patients, families and general public in a constantly changing environment. Departments that successfully implemented a Covid testing strategy include Patient Access, University Police, Laboratory (Clinical Pathology), Information Management and Technology, Covid Public Hotline Nurses

To recap, in 2021, this group:

  • Administered a total of 94,569 Covid tests.
  • Created drive-through Covid sites at Water St. and the NYS Fairgrounds.
  • Opened Community Campus Suite lK, operational seven days a week.
  • Collaborated with Onondaga County for student testing.
  • Established mobile pop-up testing in surrounding rural areas.
  • Relived Emergency Department of Covid cases so it could provide other needed care.

Provider of the Year: Patricia Goodyear

For more than 10 years Goodyear was a registered nurse at the bedside for Upstate, beginning in 1987. During the course of her career, she completed her nurse practitioner training. She has filled many positions at Upstate, including her services in Trauma, Endocrine, Surgical Oncology, ACS, Transplant, Medicine, Covid Antibodies, and is currently setting up an Acute-Care Hospital at Home Service. In her current role, she helps develop an orientation handbook, policies and procedures for staff.

Caption: The Child Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison Service was honored with the Clinical Team of the Year Award at a ceremony June 29.