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Upstate’s medical intensive care unit honored for nursing excellence by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

Upstate University Hospital has been honored with a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence for its medicine intensive care unit by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).

The unit, also known as 6I or MICU, is a 16-bed Intensive Care Unit that provides high quality multidisciplinary care to a wide-ranging population of highly acute and critically ill patients from 17 counties across Central New York. It was one of Upstate’s busiest units during the Covid pandemic.

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. There are 576 Beacon-recognized units nationwide, of which only 198 have achieved their highest designation—a gold Beacon Award for Excellence. Units such as 6I MICU that achieve this three-year, three-level award with gold designations meet national criteria consistent with the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

AACN President Terry Davis, PhD, RN, NE-BC, CHTP, FAAN, applauds the exemplary efforts of the care givers medical intensive care unit at Upstate 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,” Davis said. “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.” 

The gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence signifies an effective and systematic approach to policies, procedures and processes that include engagement of staff and key stakeholders; fact-based evaluation strategies for continuous process improvement; and performance measures that meet or exceed relevant benchmarks.

The medicine intensive care unit the award by meeting the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria: Leadership Structures and Systems; Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement; Effective Communication, Knowledge Management, and Learning and Development; Evidence-Based Practice and Processes and Outcome Measurement.

Chief Nursing Officer Scott Jessie, MSN, RN, congratulated the nursing staff at an award reception, noting that the AACN gave high praise to many features of the unit including its “patient-centered approach to staffing and team-based care, promoting patient-family involvement in the care of its patients.

“It’s truly a spectacular unit with amazing people and amazing outcomes,” he said,

Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, DO, MBA, praised the high level of care that the 6I nurses provide to some of the region’s most complex patients, noting that Beacon Award in many ways reflects the many letters he gets that praise the care and caring nature of the unit nurses.

Despina Garcia, BSN, RN, CNML, nurse manager of the medicine intensive care unit, applauded her 6I coworkers. “I’m so proud of this nursing team. They’re the most resilient, hard-working, and caring group. Congratulations 6I MICU.”

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 200 chapters in the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. To learn more about AACN, visit www.aacn.org, connect with the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aacnface or follow AACN on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aacnme.


Caption: Celebrating the Beacon Award honor for the Medical Intensive Care Unit are, from left, Chief Nursing Officer Scott Jessie, MSN, RN; Ann Markle, MS, RN, nursing deputy director of adult inpatient services; Elizabeth Wolaver, RN; Alex Guhin RN/ TN; Kayli Calkins RN; Alexandra Benjamin, RN; Rebecca Adamitis, RN, nursing practice coordinator; Jacqueline Aldinger, clinical excellence coordinator; Despina Garcia, BSN, RN, nurse manager.