Date: 5/19/2011

St. Catherine Hospital honors Top Nurse during National Nurses Week

St. Catherine Hospital Nursing Excellence award recipient for 2011 is Kathy Szymonik (center). Hospital CEO JoAnn Birdzell (right) and Chief Nursing Officer Paula Swenson (left) congratulate Szymonik at a tea held to honor nursing staff.

Great attitude, patience, respectful, kind, are a few of the words used to describe Kathy Szymonik, St. Catherine Hospital’s choice for the 2011 Nursing Excellence Award. The award was presented at a special luncheon May 11 during National Nurses Week.

Szymonik is a staff nurse on 5 West and has been a part of the St. Catherine Hospital family for more than 40 years. Szymonik’s peers nominated her for this prestigious award based upon key characteristics of nursing excellence including areas of Leadership, Dignity, Compassionate Care, Community, Quality and Stewardship — attributes that coincide with the hospital’s mission and values.

According to her nomination, Szymonik is “respectful and kind to her patients and fellow staff members and has a great attitude. She has also been known to come in on her day off to help out. Physicians ask her a question about one of her patients and she immediately has the answer. She is quick to respond to an emergency as well as help out fellow staff members when they need her assistance. Her clinical skills are excellent and nursing students get great experience when they follow her around. She is a role model for students who want to learn a staff nurse’s bedside manner. You can see the nurse in Kathy every day. Her professionalism when it comes to attitude, dress code, and respect for others is evident the minute you walk onto the unit.”

“We’re proud of our nursing staff, especially Kathy, who consistently goes the extra mile to assure that patients who come to St. Catherine Hospital get personalized attention and the very best in care,” said JoAnn Birdzell, chief executive officer of St. Catherine Hospital. “She has been an important member of our family for more than 40 years and we appreciate her hard work and dedication.”

St. Catherine Hospital has been a second home and family to Lansing, Illinois resident Szymonik for most of her adult life. She first got to know the staff at St. Catherine while attending Morton High School and working as a candy striper. Her first job as a nurse’s aide began in 1966 — at the same time she was attending Purdue. Szymonik was part of the very first Associate’s degree graduating class. She graduated in December of 1966 and became an RN in January of 1967.

“We have been lucky to have Kathy as part of our extended family here at St. Catherine Hospital,” said Paula Swenson, chief nursing officer/patient care services for St. Catherine Hospital. “She’s a great nurse and a very special person.”