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Day surgery nurse is 2010 RN of the year
Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,

La Grange – Kathy Puffer, RN, BSN, ACLS, a nurse in day surgery unit at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, was named the hospital’s Nurse of the Year. The Chicago resident has been a nurse for 30 years and worked at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital since 1993.

Though she works full time in the day surgery unit, Puffer also works weekends in the endoscopy unit and takes additional shifts in the pain management center.

“I just love working with patients,” she said. “I don’t want to be a manager or anything else except a nurse. This award is very humbling because I work with many wonderful nurses.”

Puffer, who was nominated once before for the award, has her Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification and also is certified in conscious sedation, making her a valuable asset to her team, said Lori Kaspar, director, peri-operative nursing.

“Her skill level is unbelievable,” Kaspar said. “She’s ones of the kindest, most passionate nurses I’ve ever known.”

According to her co-workers, Puffer is always willing to stay late or come in early and takes time to explain procedure details with patients and their families so they know what to expect before, during and after their surgery, co-workers say.

“Kathy is like a little jumping jack,” fellow day surgery nurse Marilyn Vorsanger wrote in Puffer’s nomination. “She is the first to answer call lights and the phone and to take patients back (to surgery). She is such an asset to our unit.”

Nurses and other hospital employees submitted nominations for the annual honor, presented May 11 at the hospital to celebrate National Nurses Week. Puffer received a $1,000 award from the hospital for her achievement.

Four other nurses received special recognition:
•    Michelle Straus, critical care unit
•    Shanty Plakkal, medical/surgical
•    Tara Yurinich, emergency room
•    Denise Santucci, obstetrics

A new award given out this year, “Rookie of the Year,” was bestowed upon medical oncology nurse Erin Pitts Radosevich, RN, BSN, of Woodridge. Radosevich, who joined the hospital in March 2009, once considered pursuing a different healthcare career – she wanted to become a doctor. But she decided on nursing because she wanted to spend more time at the bedside.

“I’ve found my calling in life – to be a nurse,” she said.

Radosevich attended a class on how to administer chemotherapy treatments and works in the hospital’s medical oncology unit. Seeing the same patients day after day is rewarding, she said.

“Being able to spend several days with patients and getting to know them and their families is a blessing. The continuity of care is so important.”

Radosevich wants to earn her master’s degree in nursing someday.

“For now, I’m just getting all the experience I can, meeting people, and working on my skills,” she said.