UI Stead Family Childrens’ Hospital critical-care nursing unit receives Beacon Award for Excellence

The critical care nursing unit of the University of Iowa Stead Family Childrens’ Hospital received the gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association for Critical-Care Nurses.

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Tate Hildyard

The Stead Family Children's Hospital is seen on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Tate Hildyard/The Daily Iowan)

Noah Sletten, News Reporter


The critical care nursing team at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit has been recognized for their work in evidence-based care and patient outcomes.

The team was recently awarded the gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence, which is the highest honor from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

When scouting for candidates for the Beacon award, the association focuses on looking for unit staff who have the highest rate of improving patient outcomes and most closely follow its six Healthy Work Environment Standards, which rate units on communication, staffing and leadership, among other categories, according to the association’s Standards For Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments.

According to the association’s website, the gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence signifies an effective and systematic approach to policies, procedures, and processes.

Units that achieve the award meet the national criteria consistent with the Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and the National Quality Healthcare Award — and a gold designation is the most prestigious, according to the website.

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Jennifer Erdahl, nurse manager of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, has worked in the unit for 15 years. She helped with the application for the award, and said the unit is deserving of its win.

“It’s a very prestigious award, and very well deserved by the unit,” Erdahl said. “[The award] is truly about driving evidence-based care and positive patient outcomes.”

Erdahl said the award focuses on five main criteria — leadership, staff engagement, communication, evidence-based practice, and patient outcomes.

Jody Kurtt, director of nursing and patient-care services at the children’s hospital, said the award is an extraordinary recognition for the team.

“The Beacon Award really exemplifies extraordinary care, and it’s measured by documented outcomes for improving patient care, patient-family satisfaction, and interdisciplinary work as well as our engagement and their work environment,” Kurtt said.

The award is well deserved based on the team’s hard work, Kurtt added.

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“I’m so pleased that they are being recognized because it is so well deserved,” Kurtt said. “It’s a recognition of their hard work, their evidence-based practice, and the strong outcomes that they have.”

Paula Levett, a nurse at the children’s hospital and the writer of its application for the Beacon award, said the award was a journey for the unit.

“It’s a unit award — it’s a collaborative effort,” Levett said. “It requires a well-functioning interdisciplinary team, and I documented that.”

Levett said she was honored to work with the interdisciplinary team.

“Beacon awardees … set the standard for excellence in patient care environments,” she said. “To receive this award at a national level is an incredible honor for our unit, and I think it gives our unit credibility with our consumers.”

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