Four University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) nurses, Terri Gibson, Lizabeth Gober, Eric Peterson, and Stephanie Sanderson, were among 25 nurses and one individual honored at the 2012 Nursing Excellence Awards at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort recently.

Gibson, an Outpatient Staffing Nurse III, received the Community Service award. Gober, a nurse supervisor at UNMH Pediatric Hospice, received the Excellence in Home Health and Hospice award. Peterson, an inpatient nursing director at UNMH Psychiatric Unit, received the Nurse Executive Leadership Award. Sanderson,a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, received the Excellence in Critical Care Award.

Gibson was described as a "delightful coworker, educator, and nurse professional with a zeal for promoting local community health issues," by Terry Norwell, who nominated her for the award.

She has conducted 18-week Cardiac Health Improvement Programs, New Mexico Super Fit Family Challenges, smoking cessation classes and participated in the "Native American Food for Life" program. Along the way, Gibson has collaborated with numerous organizations, including the Albuquerque Public Schools Health and Wellness Department, Central New Mexico Community College Service Learning and Culinary Arts departments; New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, West Mesa Community Center, Jewish Community Center, Santa Barbara Martineztown Community Learning Center, University of New Mexico Nutrition Club, Mesa Verde Community Center, and the Horn Family YMCA.

She is currently implementing a mini-grant from the "Research with Our Communities" program to oversee 30 teen-aged participants who are learning healthy lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise. Her research is being monitored with the UNMH Nursing Research Committee. Gibson has been interviewed by and was also appeared on Public Broadcasting System's "Public Square" to discuss how to lower childhood obesity in New Mexico.

In addition, she serves as Director/Coordinator of New Mexico Community Health Advance, and also coordinates and teaches classes on dealing with depression.

Gibson holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of New Mexico and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Angelo State University.

Gober is credited with developing a pediatric hospice program for UNM dedicated to providing for the individual needs of patient and their families and has grown the program from an average daily census of 3-4 patients to an average daily census of 10-12 patients. She is known as an effective advocate for the special population of patients and families who might benefit from hospice services.

A certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, Gober often parks her mobile home outside a patient's home so that services can be delivered with the required constant monitoring, frequent checks and so that the family knows a nurse is nearby.

She also works with local hospice agencies outside of the UNM program's 60-mile radius who only take adult patients to train staff and collaborates with their staff from local agencies so children can receive hospice in their home communities.

In addition, Gober instituted a program that allows providers from throughout New Mexico to contact a toll-free number to obtain answers regarding care of children with end-of-life issues.
Crystal Frantz, who nominated Gober for the award, explained, "She is dedicated to providing compassionate quality care to pediatric patients and their families. She continuously works with her team to improve quality by working on ways to assess a patient's family members' ability to safely provide care to their young family member. For example, for one family this meant color-coding medication syringes with exact dosages marked by the syringe."

Gober earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the UNM in 1976 and became certified as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in 1983. She serves on UNMH's Quality Steering Committee and Pediatric Practice Council and is a member of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, the New Mexico Organization of Nurse Leaders and the National Case Manager Association.
Since assuming his current position as Inpatient Nursing Director for the UNMH Psychiatric Center two years ago, Peterson has built a cohesive team focused on patient-centered care and positive patient outcomes. Both patient satisfaction and nurse sensitive scores achieved the 87th percentile in 2012.

According to Margaret Edwards, who nominated Peterson for the award, his attention to creating a healthy, dynamic environment for both patients and staff has involved everything from redoing the inpatient units; furniture and security cameras to creating a comfort room so that staff has a safe haven to decompress. He also created an innovative group intervention known as the weekly Patient Satisfaction Barbeque.

Peterson, along with his unit-based educator, will present in November at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association in Pittsburgh on "From Remedial Care and Control to Patient-Centered Support and Least Restrictive Environment on an Acute Inpatient Unit" based on the work of the Aggression Reduction Task Force that he leads.

Peterson recently earned a Master of Science in Nursing Administration degree from the University of New Mexico and holds a Bachelor of Science in Human and Community Service degree from New Mexico State University. He has been with UNMH since 2010.

"I am proud of his growth, accomplishments and focus on quality patient outcomes over the last two years and see only success in his future endeavors. I expect he will impact behavioral health nursing in very positive ways," Edwards said.

A total of 179 nominations were submitted this year's Nursing Excellence Awards.

Lovelace Health System was the presenting sponsor and the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence hosted the awards competition and gala. Other major sponsors were Presbyterian Healthcare Services and University of New Mexico Hospital.

The New Mexico Nursing Excellence Awards recognize excellence in nursing practice and honor nurses for the contributions they make to their organizations, communities and the state. Proceeds from the Nursing Excellence Awards program support the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence (NMCNE). NMCNE was established as a nonprofit organization in 2002 to convene stakeholders and facilitate dialogue and action that result in a stronger workforce in New Mexico. The NMCNE's goal is that every New Mexican has the opportunity to experience exceptional nurses when they need them the most.

For more information, visit New Mexico Nursing Excellence or call (505) 889-4518.