Clara Ford Nursing Excellence Award

About the Clara Ford Nursing Awards

  • The Clara Ford Award for Nursing Excellence was established five years ago to honor Henry Ford Health registered nurses for their dedication to their patients, the community and the health system in each of our System’s seven performance pillars.
  • The award was named in memory of Clara Ford who was instrumental in the opening of the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing in 1925.
  • At the time it was founded, the School of Nursing had a 300-room Nurses’ Residence on the Henry Ford Hospital campus. It was named for Clara Ford and it remained in existence until 1996.
  • The diploma school offered training in basic sciences and nursing practice, graduating more than 5,000 students in the 71 years of its operation. The School was known for its high standards and excellence in education and practice. The “Ford Grads” were easily recognized by their skillful care of patients and their unique nursing caps.
  • With the history of Henry Ford nursing as its foundation the Clara Ford Awards for Nursing Excellence are bestowed annually upon seven nurses who are nominated by their colleagues.
  • Each of these nominees was nominated based on the System’s seven performance pillars, which create The Henry Ford Experience. The seven pillars are People, Service, Quality & Safety, Growth, Research & Education, Community and Finance.
  • A selection committee comprising of Nurse Executives representing each Henry Ford Health business unit selected the award winners.
  • The nominations were blinded, without a name or business unit attached, ensuring winners were selected based solely on their merit.

People Pillar Award

People Pillar Award winner: Denise Nash, R.N.

Denise is an extraordinary nurse, who has the gift to reach the center of someone’s heart. A nurse with Henry Ford Home Health Care, Denise is known by both patients and her colleagues as someone who is dedicated to providing the best possible care for each Henry Ford patients she encounters. 

Here is an excerpt from Denise’s nomination form:

“She told me about a newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patient who had been hospitalized for several days. This patient was overwhelmed with her diagnosis, depressed and would not participate in any of her care. She declined medications, physical therapy and even stopped getting out of her hospital bed to toilet or shower. She choose incontinence, and would lay in her bed. She declined to participate in her own discharge plan, and the staff and case management team faced great difficulties working with her. 

Denise asked the staff if she could approach the patient. She entered the patient’s room, asking if she could sit and talk with her. Denise asked questions about how the patient was feeling, what she valued in her life, her fears and her plans for the future. Denise listened. It quickly became apparent that the patient needed to be heard. Denise asked, “Do you want to live? It looks like you have two options, let this diagnosis control you or take control of it. You can lie in this bed, or you can get up, go into the bathroom, get cleaned up and fight. What are you going to do?” 

The patient wanted to take control and she wanted to fight. She just needed someone to listen and to relate to her fears. The hospital staff was grateful. They worked with the patient on her discharge plans and she left the hospital the next day.”



Service Pillar Award

Service Pillar Award winner: Regina Clifford, R.N.

A clinical coordinator in Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s Labor & Delivery department, Regina – or Gina, as she is known – consistently delivers the Henry Ford Experience for patients and families in the hospital’s Birthing Center. The compassionate care she provides is both comforting and supportive for patients and families who are facing tremendously difficult situations, including stillbirth or fetal loss. Gina is also the leader of a Bereavement Committee, and helps plan the memorial service her department hosts each year in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Here is an excerpt from a letter written by a patient whose newborn son passed away shortly after birth, which was included in Gina’s nomination form:

“While most women would be fighting the pain, they were also experiencing the extreme excitement of meeting their baby. I was just fighting the pain.

When my nurse came in she took my hand and told me she was going to take care of me and my baby. She asked me what his name was, if he was our first, what his middle name was, if he was named after anyone. Gina Clifford was the gift we needed to start the celebration of our Mason. Gina instantly made me feel safe. She made me know that our boy was a miracle, that he mattered, and that we were good parents.

Gina literally held my hand and stayed by my side the entire time. When I couldn’t think straight, Gina walked me through the steps I needed to take. Do you want a priest? Where would you like Mason when he is born? What medical measures would you like us to take? All the while, assuring me what an amazing mother I was and how I was doing a good job.

When Mason was born, the kindness and peace in her eyes let me know that she cared so much for our family. No matter the sadness and grief that filled that room in the 20 minutes he stayed with us, Gina was able to help us realize the beauty and love in those moments.”


Quality & Safety Award

Quality and Safety Pillar Award winner: Laura Lenihan, R.N.

In her role as clinical specialty coordinator with Henry Ford Home Health Care, Lauren develops policies, procedures, curricula and competencies related to high-tech, infusion and organ transplant care. Laura’s enthusiastic pursuit of new knowledge and new challenges has resulted in Home Health Care’s involvement in post-hospital care for Henry Ford’s cardiac patients with left ventricular assistive devices and numerous research drug therapies. 

Here is an excerpt from Laura’s nomination:

“Laura’s most admirable quality is her prescriptive approach to quality nursing practices. This past year she identified a high-risk, problem-prone procedure with kidney transplant patients. Laura researched and created a competency and classroom training based on best practices, role modeled safe practice in the field with the clinician regarding these care requirements, and created newsletter articles focusing on reminders for patient safety, related to transplant care. She also tracked patients who required transplant nursing, reviewed the nurses’ documentation, and provided feedback to the clinician to drive change in practice. Training material was modified to assist with the identified areas requiring improvement. 

While I wholeheartedly endorse Laura’s nomination for the Clara Ford Award, I know that her motivation is not borne from her desire to be recognized, but rather from the professional and spiritual strength she possesses. Laura is a rare combination of roles and attributes. She is a devoted family person, a dependable church supporter, a generous community volunteer, and a respected nursing leader. We are grateful for the opportunity to nominate her and are fortunate to have her on our team.”


Growth Award

Growth Pillar Award winner: Tracy Bridgen, R.N.

A nurse educator at Henry Ford Hospital, Tracy is a representative on the ICU Education Council and makes sure all staff on her unit are up-to-date and aware of professional educational opportunities. Tracy is a leader and was instrumental in encouraging staff members to become involved in Shared Governance. Her encouragement led many nurses to join the ICU Education, Midnight, Nursing Excellence and ICU Practice Councils. 

Here is an excerpt from Tracy’s nomination:

“Tracy was very involved in a new program we initiated to bring new graduates onto our team. We now orient new “grads” for a month on the unit prior to them taking Critical Care classes. During this time they are with a preceptor but also spend time with Tracy further reviewing ICU assessments, medications, critical thinking and crucial conversations. This program has been extremely successful, orients have done very well in the Critical Care course and have transitioned to valuable members of our team. 

I could easily write much more about Tracy – her involvement with all of our unit based committees such as Practice, Care Experience, Education and Engagement. She also mentors staff, encourages them to complete the CCRN certification, and has a pivotal role in our highly successful Early Rehabilitation Program.   

These are just some of the examples which exemplify how important Tracy is to our team and why she deserves this recognition. She truly is the “Gold Standard” for Nurse Educators at Henry Ford Hospital.”


Research & Education Award

Research & Education Award winner: Catherine Jackman, R.N.

Cathy Jackman is a clinical nurse specialist in the MICU at Henry Ford Hospital, where she has been instrumental in many education and research initiatives. Cathy helped lead the efforts of the Henry Ford Hospital Acquired Pressure Injury (HAPI) Reduction team by mentoring staff R.N.s and organizing the first Pressure Injury Expo – a 24-hour education fair, with 14 interactive stations. In addition, she organized the Coloplast Academy, a model approach to assessing and preventing pressure injuries, and she leads the pressure injury team, which is designed to standardize care across the health system. 

Here is an excerpt from Cathy’s nomination:

“Cathy led the Alarms Fatigue effort, leading the team to establish consistency with alarm sounds, setting consistent alarm limits, and maintaining policies for alarm management. Much of this has been based on the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses standards, as well as the recommendations from Joint Commission.

Most recently, Cathy was selected to be one of the first facilitators for the Registered Nurse Residency Program. She is used as a preceptor for graduate and undergraduate students from area schools of nursing.

These are only a few of the initiatives Cathy has led in order to elevate the Nursing profession at Henry Ford Hospital, as well as Henry Ford Health. She exemplifies the key roles of the Clinical Nurse Specialist in the areas of education, research and nursing inquiry.”


Community Award

Community Pillar Award winner: Brian Metzger, R.N.

A clinical nurse supervisor with Henry Ford Home Health Care, Brian consistently impresses patients and colleagues with his professional knowledge, compassion, and commitment to serving the community. Outside of his career, Brian regularly assists with event planning at his church and serves as committee treasurer for Cub Scout Troop 1234 in Brownstown, Michigan. In addition to running the troop’s finances, he coordinates many of their community activities, such as coat, clothing, and food drives.  

Here is an excerpt from Brian’s nomination:

“When a Clinical Supervisor opportunity became available, Brian was the obvious choice. He leads approximately 20 nurses responsible for about 3,000 unique patient encounters per month in our community. Brian also manages the Team Leading department in our office. This “hub” of our patient care operations is where patient encounters are scheduled, ancillary services coordinated, and 90 percent of all clinical calls from patients, caregivers, clinicians, physicians, and insurance companies are routed for triaging and resolution. 

Brian readily leads by example daily, working alongside his team of nurses and support staff in this hectic environment to ensure that we are making a difference in the lives of the frail, elderly, home-bound population, which he is devoted to serving. Brian ensures all of his internal and external customers have what they need in a timely manner to optimize the patient care experience, while providing his staff with a great work-life balance.”



Finance Award

Finance Award winner: Cynthia Tyzo, R.N.

A clinical nurse supervisor with Henry Ford Home Health Care, Cindy is dedicated to ensuring the services provided by every clinician are safe for the patient and team members, timely, efficient, effective, equitable and patient-centered. Thanks to the outstanding work done by the Readmission Huddles that Cindy leads, her team has seen a sustained reduction in 30-day readmission rates at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. 

Here is an excerpt from Cindy’s nomination:

“Cindy has taken charge of this pilot program and reviews the Allscripts 30-Day Readmission reports from Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital every morning. She investigates the documentation and writes a synopsis of what occurred with the patient from admission to service. During the Readmission Huddle, she coordinates the conference call discussion regarding what the patient’s goals are and ensures interventions are all centered on how the team can help the patient reach his or her goal. 

She looks at things like how timely and with what frequency care was provided, was the care plan effective or was there anything else we could have done to prevent a hospital readmission. We discuss any socioeconomic, cultural or environmental barriers to care and identify options to overcome those barriers. We also provide the home perspective to the clinical liaison at each hospital. The liaison shares this information with the care providers and case managers at each hospital so that any issues can be accounted for in the next transition to home plan. 

Cindy has used the Plan, Do, Check, Act process to improve our Readmission Huddles. The initial calls were not specifically focused on the patients’ goals or barriers to care delivery. During the check and act phases, Cindy identified these issues and re-educated the team. Additionally, she added two key questions to each Huddle: What is the patient’s goal in his or her own words and is there anything that you feel our hospital partners need to know that will improve the patient’s success after this hospitalization?”


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