Employee Spotlight Award Winner July 2017
Carline Benitez, CHHA
For the past eight years (since 2009) Carline Benitez, CHHA, has been an outstanding employee in the Ascend Concierge organization. It’s better to describe her as a key member of the Ascend Concierge Family.
She loves what she does and it shows.
Wherever she is assigned, Carline is very well liked, and there are always wonderful comments from families and facilities alike.
She is in high demand as she is in school to become a Physical Therapy Assistant.
Carline partners seamlessly with the coordinators in the office and we know important it is to have harmonious operations internally and externally.
One of her ongoing education requirements is completing hands on internships.
The Ascend team and leadership made it possible for Carline to be supported through her required internships.
She has been doing internships at Care One Cresskill, and Care One Ridgewood where their teams
think she is a “rock star”.
In addition to all this, on a personal note, Carline takes great pride in being involved in her three children’s activities.
All of her children are involved in sports, and she attends all their activities while being a working mom and in school.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner June 2017
18 Months ago, there was an agency who was behind in their Volunteer hours, and on day one, this amazing Volunteer Coordinator got to work, and worked to grow the volunteer hours and move the 2% below standard – to above the acceptable standard of 5 to often 6% of volunteer hours.
She did this not only to meet regulations from a compliance perspective, she did this as it is her calling. People are her calling, providing service is her calling, caring is her calling for one human being at a time.
Jennifer Fennucio, Volunteer Coordinator in Massachusetts has been an amazing addition the MA team since her first day and to Jenn, “above and beyond” is standard every day.
– An every-day expectation she has for herself, and others are inspired by her mission.
Jennifer has led the volunteer team to exceed the mandatory 5% of hours within the first few months of her arrival, and has consistently held the team volunteer hours at 5% or 6% every month since.
This has happened because she loves people, and her passion for what she does, is combined with drive to be of service.
Jenn values each and every LIFE whether it be a patient, a family member or an Ascend Teammate.
She knows her volunteer team so well that when a volunteer is requested for a new patient, or an hour request comes in, her response time is almost immediate.
She artfully and enthusiastically transfers the value She has for each patient and the expectation of high quality visits to every volunteer, which inspires Them (and all of us who know her) to reach higher.
Jenn believes there is always a way to fulfill a mission. Jenn has found volunteers to make ornaments, quilts for the Essence of the Journey Program, and the cherished Memory Bears for families. These creators enjoy their crafts, but LOVE creating these pieces for hospice because they see Jenn’s love for the patients in her eyes and feel it in her words/actions. She has worked with Ascend Volunteer departments in other states to ensure continuity when possible and share best practices. She is always open to new ideas and always finds a way to forge a path where none existed before.
Jenn has been, and continues to be, a passionate, encouraging, whole-hearted believer in what she does, and that inspires us all to raise our levels to new heights!
Employee Spotlight Award Winner May 2017
We all know the hospice aides are often the superstars and unsung heroes for the way they intimately care for the dying, and the way they interact with families whose loved ones are at the end of life.
Our hospice aides who proudly wear their blue Ascend Hospice scrubs are stellar at delivering our unique Essence programs, offering massage, aromatherapy, tactile stimulation, and playing music selected by the person or family.
Our hospice aides bond closely with those they care for 4-6 days a week, sometimes for just a few days, and sometimes for months in a very personal way.
Feeding, bathing, dressing, providing socialization, and companionship bedside is their craft.
Many times, we get referrals as a direct result of how our Aides care for people
The May Ascend Hospice Employee Spotlight Award Winner is an Aide from California who has been with Ascend for three years
She is exceptionally quiet, and yet many came forward to nominate her for the outstanding way she does her job and interacts in every setting.
Mariza Gomez is the May 2017 Employee Spotlight Winner
When Mariza was growing up her mother worked in hospice and would share about her experiences. Mariza is following in her mother’s footsteps.
Mariza is an excellent employee always caring for our hospice patients with exceptional focus, and communicates with her fellow employees at the highest level and in the most detailed way.
She puts her patients first and ensures that they are happy. This is her main concern. She wants the people she cares for to know they are cared about, and cared for -which includes being happy under any circumstance.
It is a special skill and energy that Mariza brings to her profession. Mariza is incredibly hard working, and has a genuine passion for her patients.
Mariza has a 5 year old daughter with whom she enjoys spending time with cooking and going to the beach.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner April 2017
Well, this is a first, we have an employee who was nominated by a Chaplain, an On Call Nurse, a CEL, a Medical Director and a Case Manager.
Many thanks to Maria Brown,RN, Jacqueline Buhrman, RN, Sylvia L. Masi, Chaplain, Robert Goldbetter, CEL, Dr. David A Laskin, Medical Director.
From Chaplain Sylvia Masi,
I’ve worked with Linda Hipp, CSW, for more than 10 years. She’s been a good resource, an understanding listener and helpful with advice during all that time.Often hospice hits close to home, and she is the one I turn to because of a personal connection, my own grief issues or at those times when something about the case creates a personal roadblock to care. Linda is there to be a listening ear and to help strategize a way through.
And speaking of always being available, even when she’s not on call, I’ve found Linda ready to help.
She’s been there to answer a question or provide information about a complicated psychosocial dynamic in family or simple but needful things… like “the building is actually behind the tall 6 story building, and you can’t see it from the road.”
How good to hear her helpful voice just when you need it! Linda truly deserves this award.”
From Bob Goldbetter, CEL
Linda is a dedicated professional, not only to Ascend, but to her Social Work profession. Her compassion shines through in every interaction with her patients, family members and our referral sources.
She is a true team player, always available to assist and mentor those in need.
While she will tell you that she still learns something new all the time, she has a fundamental kind nature. Kind nature is not something which can be taught.
From Medical Director David Laskin, MD
Short and to the point…
• She is our “real team leader” – who keeps us focused, committed and dedicated.
• She is passionate about her work!
• She goes out of her way to help her patients and her team members!
• She is the “glue” that has cemented the SW team!
From Jacqueline Buhrman, RN
On February 14, my first day of work with Ascend Hospice, Linda was scheduled to be with me.
It was a wonderful experience as we talked and got to know each other. She has a warm smile and a positive attitude.
She was very gracious and patient as I bombarded her with question after question regarding my new position.
I learned so much from her, and felt very much at ease which is a challenge when something is new.
Linda is a warm, caring and kind person. She is also very professional, intelligent and knowledgeable. She is always available to talk to if you need her.This was and continues to be most appreciated by not only me. Linda Hipps, CSW would be most deserving of this award.
From Maria Brown, RN, Recipient of the March Employee Spotlight Award
I would like to take this opportunity to nominate Linda Hipp, CSW for the April Employee Spotlight Award.
Linda has provided 18 years of dedicated service to Ascend Hospice.
She embodies Ascend Hospice’s core values and consistently displays what it means to be a leader, a team player and a role model devoted to the well-being of our hospice patients, their families and her co-workers.
I have worked closely with Linda for the past seven years witnessing firsthand her selflessness, commitment and reliability.
She instinctively goes the extra mile and handles all tasks with a “no excuses” attitude.
Without hesitation, Linda fully extends herself to our team and is always immersed in helping. Every encounter and interaction involves patience as well as her rational perspective which is one of Linda’s most endearing qualities. Her relationship extension has developed a sense of trust and genuine love and respect from so many.
In addition to Linda’s Social Work expertise, she has a keen eye for identifying terminal restlessness which has earned her the nickname “Nurse Linda”.
During the last Nor’easter, I was on call and received a late call to complete an admission an hour away from my home. I was a bit nervous about driving in the inclement weather and reached out to Linda to talk. Linda graciously offered to drive me to the facility and she obtained consents while I performed my RN assessment. It was 11:00 pm when we left the facility during the snowstorm. I was so grateful and thankful for Linda’s generosity and kindness.She will inconvenience herself to make things more convenient for others and this is just one example of her unselfish spirit.
An anchor is a device used to prevent a vessel from drifting due to wind or current.
Exhibiting continued and unwavering professionalism, dedication, and compassion in the face of incredible adversity, Linda is our anchor. She is a constant source of strength and support to me and the entire South West team.
A great employee can be mentored and molded and taught the necessary skills to be successful at what they do, but it takes a naturally talented individual with innate abilities and humanity to do what she has done for the last 18 years. It is for these reasons that I proudly nominate Linda Hipp for Employee of the Month.”
Corporate Employee of the Year 2017
In 2014, Shitanshu Desai joined Ascend Hospice as the Staff Accountant and was later promoted to the Senior Accountant in 2015. Shitanshu has gone above and beyond in his role, dedicating himself to Ascend every step of the way.
He works long hours alongside Gerard Bernardi, Controller for Ascend Health and supports most finance and accounting related functions. Shitanshu is a team player and is always willing to assist coworkers when needed.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner March 2017
Maria Brown, RN
From Dawn Kalemba, RN:
When I took the position of Regional Manager for the New Jersey Southwest Team, I was lucky enough to have Maria Brown as one of my RN Case managers.
At one point, Maria was a Regional Manager and although she has stepped down, she remains a team leader.
Maria is such an asset to Ascend Hospice, the team and to all the patients and families she cares for in New Jersey.
Maria goes above and beyond, is extremely caring and compassionate towards all of her patients and their families and takes great pride in everything that she does. She continues to be a mentor to her peers and an inspiration to us all! She truly is an amazing Hospice Nurse and I am proud to work beside her.
From Joe Trombetta, Chaplain
This past year Maria has had several major losses. Maria has emerged shinning.
Maria continues to provide superior care to our patients with the ability to combine keen clinical acumen with experience, resulting in an end journey for our patients that is unparalleled.
Maria is innovative, practical and brings the experience and leadership to her nursing craft resulting in a proactive style perfectly suited for hospice.
The South West team is Blessed have a nurse like Maria Brown, RN and most importantly, humanity is Blessed by her.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner February 2017
Courtney Josephs, CNA PA
In July of this year, this CNA will be celebrating 10 years with Ascend Hospice.
I have known Courtney Joseph for almost 4 years now. While doing Direct Field Supervision, I observed Courtney beginning one patient’s ADL’s and he asked his patient what she wanted to wear that day.
The patient replied with -‘something blue”.Courtney didn’t just pick her clothes for her, he held up 3 outfits, all shades of blue for her to pick what she wanted to wear that day. It is thoughtful acts such as this, in addition to the excellent care he provides, that makes Courtney a “best in class” caregiver.
Courtney has an amazing work ethic. For the years Courtney has been with Ascend, I do not believe he has called out sick once in almost 10 years. Recently, when he took a week off the DON at Heritage Towers told our CEL Christine that while Courtney was off, one of his patients began acting out and was combative and agitated.The DON felt it was due to his absence.
In the years when Aides did not have email access, PA used a phone chain for Snow Emergencies. When I would call Courtney, no matter if I called him first at 5am or later- he was already at his facility. I happened to be speaking with him the night before the recent PA snow storm and he said he had to get to bed so he could be on the road early- and yes, he was at his facility like any day no matter the weather.
Staff at Heritage Towers tell our Nurse Chris that EVERYONE should have a Courtney – she would have Courtney care for any of her relatives. Chris trusts him and finds it a privilege to have Courtney as the Hospice aide that works beside her. Not only does Courtney care about our patients, he constantly interacts with all people, patients and staff alike, wherever he goes.
In the Spirit of Inspiration this year…
I recently asked Courtney why he does this work and was taken back by his response below:
“I love this job because I can do unto others what I want done to me. You just might lighten up someone’s day even though they can’t express it or show how good it makes them feel. Even being courteous to a stranger passing by can make their day and they might pass it on to the next person they see and we could begin a chain”.
I can say this for the entire PA Team- we are all proud to have Courtney on our Team!
Outside of work….
Courtney cared for his Mother who was ill for quite some time- and still didn’t miss any work.
Caring for one’s own family member and carrying a caseload takes a remarkable and extraordinary person. Courtney is extraordinary and for all these reasons and more deserves the February Employee Spotlight Award.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner January 2017
Pat Brown RN, Regional Manager Massachusetts Agency
It’s always rewarding when we can recognize an employee who has been with the organization for a while.
January’s Employee Spotlight Award Winner has been with Ascend Hospice for five years.
As you know, in the last five years, the organization has had many changes, and those who have been with the organization have been exceptional just to have navigated those changes with grace and ease.
As the Regional Manager of the South Shore in Massachusetts, Pat Brown, RN has been a constant source of support for her peers, and beyond MA has supported other agencies with her expertise.
Pat Brown is an aromatherapy expert, understands the power of Reiki, and is a key advocate of the Essence programs at Ascend Hospice.No matter what the challenge is, Pat has a “can do” attitude and a “will do” Spirit.
She graciously accepts any task, and you will always hear her say “sure” we can.
She respectfully disagrees and argues her point always in the name of quality.
She continues to spend time in the field with patients, vendors and referral sources.
Pat is an excellent educator and is always looking to improve on the quality of care.
Pat is an asset to this agency, our organization and the industry as a whole.
Thank you Pat for your strength, commitment and contribution.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner December 2016
Briana Rischitelli, CRC
Briana just celebrated her 5th Anniversary with Ascend this month
Clinical Records Coordinator. Also responsible for Billing and Intake
Nomination Made By:
Ruth Frasca, RN, Pat Brown,RN, and Shan Wei-Ko, RN, MSN
From Ruth and Pat:
Briana always gives 200% to everything she does! “No” does not exist in her vocabulary. Or if she has to say “No”, she follows it with when she can fulfill the request.
The example she sets for all Ascend employees about being a team player needs a shout out. She likes to learn, and has attended the Essence of the Journey, Essence of the Heart and Touch of Essence Programs. She makes herself familiar with Ascend’s unique offerings. When she takes referrals, at times she shares about our Music Therapy, Aromatherapy, and Touch Interventions with referral sources or families.
In addition, she has supported New Jersey’s intake team this year, and most recently, went to Pennsylvania to support their new team members.She is willing to do anything, and everything to help, team members and referral sources alike. She goes above and beyond what is expected, and when the volume seems unmanageable, her calm demeanor and actions, make it all possible.
Without her dedication to the Mass office, and Ascend, we would be not be as effective and we would dare say lost at times.
Briana balances her life devoted to spending time with her family, which includes 5 cats, and living a healthy life are all part of what makes Briana so special! She is an inspiration with her healthy eating habits!
From Shan Wei:
It is a pleasure to collaborate with Briana learn from her, whether regarding intake, billing, or Suncoast steps.Each interaction I have had with her and observations of her work, affirms why her agency respects, values and appreciates her. She is a professional who effortlessly upholds our company’s values in the way she approaches her work. She is a detailed oriented and has tremendous capacity for volume of details.
Briana’s sense of responsibility for the quality of her work, believing everything is important in her documentation, mastering what is required of her role, and striving to be the best at what she does. She has created processes and a method of organization built around the day-to-day activities of her agency, understanding that how well she does her job is vital to maintaining regulatory compliance, supporting a healthy census, and building strength in a competitive market place. She is responsive to internal and external customers and approaches matters with a sense of urgency but also with composure.
In addition to having a strong work ethic, she also has strong sense of teamwork. She strives to support her agency and other colleagues to meet a common goal, helping where she can. Despite how busy she is, she has always made the time to respond to my questions and share her wealth of knowledge. She has also taken the time to assist other agencies with training newly hired CRC’s and also make herself available when possible. I have observed her interact with her team and how they work in unison to get things done and get them done right.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner November 2016
Mbuso Ndlovu, Certified Nursing Assistant in Pennsylvania
From Betty Jones:
Mbusco has been a CNA with Ascend since July of 2012. Recently, she was promoted to Senior CNA and has done an amazing job.
Her compassion and dedication to our Pennsylvania patients and their families is truly a beautiful experience for everyone involved.
To watch Mbusco interact with our patients is like watching an angel. She engages families and patients in and with all of our specialty programs. She does it all and follows the Case Managers care plan with the highest integrity.
Most recently, she was observed by a member of the support team providing alternative therapies to our patients. The room was set with a calming tone and her approach was soft, kind and compassionate.
We receive numerous letters commenting on Mbsuco excellent care. Mbuso attended the funeral of one of our patients the family named her specifically in the Eulogy and asked her to stand and be recognized.
We are truly blessed to have Mbuso as part of the PA ascend Team and want to recognize her for always going the extra mile with not only patients and families but with our staff.
From Michael Heller:
I was fortunate enough to go be in the field and observe how aromatherapy is being used on a daily basis with our patients by Mbuso.
First hand I saw the impact the Touch of Essence Program on her patients. How they would be calmer when they were massaged, and benefited from the essential oils. At Elm Terrace in Lansdale, I shadowed Mbuso after a training and had no idea how all of this worked until I saw it firsthand demonstrated by her on our patients.
Mbuso is very respectful and always requests permission before she provides any touch. She looks into the patient’s eyes, and makes sure they are comfortable.Seeing another patient, as we walked to her room I did not know what to expect.
Upon entering, I was speechless on how much of the “Ascend Programs” were being utilized for one patient.
One of our dementia patients, had the afghan blanket on her bed for Essence of the Journey, on her chair laid a tactile cloth (EOJ), a CD player with the Ascend Sticker and music playing selected by the family, the memory book (EOJ made by Ascend Volunteers), and a framed Veterans certificate- depicting our Essence of the Brave program as this patient was a Veteran.
After speaking with Mbuso when the hand massage ended I realized that this was not a “fluke” or “set up for show”.
Every patient we visited had pieces in place from our programs and the families are all trained and involved with our programs.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner October 2016
Shan Wei-Ko, RN
We are happy to share that we have our first nomination from the New Jersey agency and the nomination is for a corporate employee who has been with us less than a year!
We love when new hires jump right in and participate with our programs.
From NJ, just hired in August, full time Case Manager, Joann Slosek, RN, felt compelled to nominate Shan Wei-Ko, RN, BSN, the Suncoast Trainer for Hospice.
In Joann’s words, her techniques are very effective. She has a comprehensive knowledge base and is able to problem solve any potential problem I fabricate, and alleviate concerns.Shan Wei is an excellent trainer and can simplify what seems overwhelmingly complex. Her excellent instruction will point ME to successful charting writes Joann.
Janet Bahl, VP of Clinical added, Shan Wei has earned a reputation for kindness, knowledge, patience, integrity, persistence, helpfulness and a can-do attitude!
Since Shan-Wei has joined Ascend, the level of training and engagement around the use of the EMR has increased exponentially.
Many can share, they love EMR as a result of how they have been trained by Shan Wei.
She is hard working, committed and caring professional that truly deserves to be “spotlighted”.
In addition, Shan Wei is the Administrator for the Nurses Contact Hours which allows the organization to be credentialed as an education provider in the community.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner September 2016
Maggie Oeland, RN
In the past year, this Clinical Director has been the acting Executive Director, case managed, been on call as a nurse, admitted patients, taught education, completed numerous orientations, over seen intake, sat vigil, recruited volunteers to the point where the agency has achieved their 5% compliance goal, and the census has doubled in one year. When we are looking at where there are many process tools for other states, it’s not unusual to hear, Maggie Oeland, RN has a great process.
In addition to working in the field to increase access to hospice, Maggie is a certified wound care nurse.
Recently, Maggie created a visual story board for California’s survey requirements so every team member would understand the goals, and verbalize compliance. This is now a standard for each agency is the future.
Whenever there is a performance opportunity, Maggie wraps her arms around the opportunity for improvement and turns it around.
While doing all these many different things she is going to school to get her BSN!!
Employee Spotlight Award Winner August 2016
Patricia Franzmann, RN
Following college, the August Employee Spotlight Award Winner, worked in Human Resource for AT&T and then started as a Hospice Aide as a ‘second career’ in 1997.
By 1998, she had won “Hospice Aide of the Year”.
As a single mother, this individual held many jobs to support her family.
To name a few of her jobs: she was a partner in a cleaning service, trained and then worked as a sign language interpreter, massage therapist, waitress, pharmacy technician and preschool teacher.
It’s a pleasure to announce from Ascend Home Health our Wound Care Nurse, Pat Franzmann is the August Employee Spotlight Winner!
A nurse encouraged Pat to continue in healthcare and pursue her degree in nursing.
As a Hospice Aide, she learned a lot about living and the experience focused her on what is really important in life.She has shared her most important lesson whether with family, at her job, or just living her life was “to be in the moment”.Pat took care of patients in all walks of life, wealthy, extremely poor and she learned that death is the true “equalizer”.
Upon completion of her first year as a Hospice Aide, Pat then endured five years of grueling nursing night school, while working, and also caring for her sick father who ultimately was placed on hospice.
In 2003, Pat was the oldest nursing student to graduate in her class.
She is very grateful for Bergen Community Health Care, now Ascend Home Health , who supported her throughout her challenging times.
Pat continued with Ascend as her first job and has never left.
She pursued her education and has become an exceptional wound care nurse where patients request her and physicians call her directly to care for their patients.
As she walks down the halls of many Assisted Living Facilities, patients come to her to discuss their need for services.
She is a true representative of all nurses: caring, compassionate, loyal and committed to the “Florence Nightingale image” of what nursing truly is.
To have Pat care for you is an honor and she exudes the philosophy of the Executive Director of Ascend that “every patient is cared for as if they are your own family”.
She found her true calling in nursing and always goes above and beyond for her patients and her co-workers.
Please join me in congratulating Pat.
Employee Spotlight Award Winner July 2016
Julie Lueck, RN Case Manager
Nomination Made By: Kasey Wiley
Julie is an amazing RN that always goes above and beyond for her patients and coworkers. Nicknamed “Yoda” by her team members.
Julie is a well-recognized leader in the Hospice industry and brings a wealth of knowledge and insight. Julie has worked as a Clinical Director and a case manager in hospice for 17 years. Julie has achieved the CHPN status within the industry and held that certification for over 10 years. She left her employer of 17 years and came to Ascend because of her belief in the direction this organization is headed. That direction is one that is employee and patient centered.
Hospice for Julie is a lifestyle choice. She dials into her patients’ needs as well of the needs of her coworkers. She has been known to check on patients in the middle of the night and weekends, and is the first to jump in to support a team member that is struggling. Julie promotes a culture of hard work, passionate care, accountability and team work unlike any other. We are blessed to have her skill set and her personal traits to help drive Ascend as the “best in class “ provider within the Kansas City area!!
Please join us in congratulating Julie!