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For the second time, VCU Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit earns prestigious nursing award

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VCU and VCU Health leaders pose for a photo at an Aug. 5 ceremony to celebrate the Medical Psychiatry Unit, which received a Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit is again the only one of its kind to earn national recognition for exemplary practices in patient care. The acknowledgment comes in the form of a silver-level Beacon Recognition for Excellence Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

For nurses, a Beacon Award signals a positive and supportive work environment with greater collaboration between colleagues and leaders, higher morale and lower turnover. For patients and families, the Beacon Award showcases exceptional care through improved outcomes, and teamwork that caters specifically to patients’ greatest and gravest needs.

At an Aug. 5 ceremony to commemorate the award, VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao, Ph.D., told department members, “You are a model for VCU and [the standard of] VCU care.”

Three years ago, the Medical Psychiatry Unit was the first psychiatry unit in the country to receive the Beacon Award. The department has 20 beds and is home to brain stimulation services, including electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation. It is one of only seven psychiatry departments in the country with a complete brain stimulation program.

VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao, Ph.D., speaks at the ceremony to acknowledge the VCU Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit’s silver-level Beacon Recognition for Excellence Award.
VCU and VCU Health System President Michael Rao, Ph.D., speaks at the ceremony to acknowledge the VCU Medical Center Medical Psychiatry Unit’s silver-level Beacon Recognition for Excellence Award.

Leadership structures and systems, and appropriate staffing and staff engagement, are some of the criteria considered for potential Beacon Award recipients. Joel Silverman, M.D., professor and chair in the Department of Psychiatry spoke at the ceremony, expressing his gratitude for the work done within the department and referring to the team jovially as “winners.” Deborah Zimmermann, VCU Health System chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services, and Jack Barber, interim commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

Charlene Moore, nurse manager of the Medical Psychiatry Unit, said the award is validation of stellar work and work efforts.

“It has been an amazing journey to be part of something so special,” she said. “We work in collaboration with our physicians, social workers, therapeutic recreation and occupational therapist partners as well as chaplains and dietitians. We continue to be the only psychiatry unit in the country to be named a beacon unit.”

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 225 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Seventy-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The VCU Health brand represents the health sciences schools of VCU, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.