VCU Medical Center Neuroscience ICU Earns Beacon Award for Excellence in Critical Care

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit has received the Beacon Award for critical care excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

The Beacon Award recognizes adult critical care, adult progressive care and pediatric critical care units that demonstrate strong patient outcomes and exemplify excellence and innovation.

“This is a great recognition and affirmation of the fantastic nursing team we have in the NSICU and throughout the Health System,” said John Duval, CEO of MCV Hospitals. “I commend them for a job well done and to all who worked so hard to achieve this goal.”

VCU’s Neuroscience ICU includes 18 beds and specializes in the care and treatment of patients who have suffered from stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological and neurosurgical conditions.

Leadership and interdisciplinary team members from this unit include Mary Alice Conte, nurse manager; Chris Szabo, nurse clinician; Bruce Mathern, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery; Courtenay Leahman, M.D., assistant professor, anesthesiology; and Jon Bekenstein, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology.

The NSICU joins the VCUHS Surgery Trauma ICU and the Medical Respiratory ICU, which also received this prestigious award in 2008 and early 2010, respectively. All of these units met national evidence based standards for high quality critical care outcomes.

Established in 1969 to help educate nurses working in newly developed intensive care units, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is the world's largest specialty nursing organization. For more information, visit