News & Events

Top-notch nurses named Nightingales

April 27, 2012

Ten Backus Hospital nurses and one Backus Home Health Care nurse will receive Nightingale Awards this year.

Originally developed by the Visiting Nursing Association of South Central Connecticut, the Nightingale Awards recognize exceptional nurses and promote the nursing profession.

“Congratulations to each of our 11 Nightingale recipients for being shining examples of the nursing profession,” said Dave Whitehead, President and Chief Executive Officer.  “Thanks, as well, to all of our professional nurses for the care and dedication that they exhibit throughout the year.”



Lois Annino

Backus Home Health Care nurse Lois Annino brings inspiration and compassion to her work in community mental health services.

As a clinical leader in group home settings, Lois performs a variety of functions from coordinating health fairs for residents to carrying out personal safety and health promotion activities. She also develops individual patient Plans of Care and supervises overall delivery of care.

It is not uncommon for Lois to exceed expectations by providing care at any time, night or day, or acting as a patient advocate. In one instance, a group home reported that a resident was found attempting to jump from a bridge. Lois met the patient at the ED and stayed with him until he was calm and there was no further suicidal intent.

In another case, Lois discovered that patient medications were missing in a group home. She notified police and spent endless hours advocating for patients with physicians to provide additional prescriptions so that medication administration wouldn’t be interrupted.

Lois sums up her care philosophy by saying, “Strive to do your best in every situation, know your limits, use your support systems and put patients first.”



Tori Tyler

As a clinical coordinator in the CCU, registered nurse Tori Tyler understands the intricacies of critical care, the core values of the hospital, and how the two meet to deliver optimal care to the patient.

“Having worked in many different healthcare settings and roles has allowed me to better understand the viewpoints of peers, colleagues other departments and the hospital as a whole,” says Tori. “I believe that we must strive to find the balance between ensuring that all staff feels supported and caring for our patients with fiscal responsibility in mind.”

Tori makes it her personal goal to provide quality care, which she believes is every patient’s right. She tells the story of a terminally ill patient who was being transferred to another unit. The family had reservations about the transfer because they feared their loved one would not get the same care elsewhere. Tori spoke to the family at length about their concerns and even suggested they visit the other unit to see his room and meet the staff. In the end, Tori helped ease the transition for the patient and his family and went above and beyond her call of duty.

An advocate for education, Tori has earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and then went on to complete a Master’s in Healthcare Administration. She is certified in critical care and serves as a preceptor for new staff and nurse residents.



Allison Taylor

For cardiac nurse Allison Taylor, nursing is her second profession, but has become her life’s true calling.

“I love my job,” says Allison. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I encourage friends and family who are pursuing a career in nursing, I tell them about the realities of the profession and that is can be hard and stressful, but it’s also exciting and can open doors to endless opportunities.”

Allison enjoys teaching and being a preceptor to new nurses. Although she can be stern at times, Allison tries to find the right blend of being nurturing and challenging so that new nurses can further develop their critical thinking skills.

While volunteering at a clinic in a remote mountain village in Honduras, Allison had a life-altering experience. Traveling with a physician from the U.S. and a local nurse, Allison found herself with little resources and limited use of diagnostic tools. The trip allowed her to use her fundamental nursing skills and challenge herself in ways she never could have imagined.

She realized that no matter where you are, despite the cultural differences and language barriers, people all have the same basic needs that need to be met.



Melissa Rainey

Efficiency and best practices are what come to mind when describing Same Day Surgery nurse Melissa Rainey.

Responsible for the development and implementation of the yearly educational competencies for Same Day Surgery, Melissa researches best practices program to provide the best and most current education for her department.

A participant in the Frontline Leadership Academy, Melissa finds the course to be challenging and rewarding. In a project for the academy, she redesigned the bedside charge sheet with the intended result of realizing more reimbursement.

“As relief charge nurse, I ensure that patients move safely and efficiently through the Surgical Services Departments,” says Melissa. “This is accomplished through open communication, various established check points, and working together to provide the best patient care.”

Melissa is currently working on a project to foster better communication with patients and their families regarding surgical delays.



Katie Pollard

Katie Pollard, a nurse educator in the ED, takes learning to a whole new level.

Four years ago, she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and currently has her sights set on graduating from a Master’s program in 2013.

By way of her membership in the Emergency Nurses’ Association and National League for Nursing, as well as skills learned in graduate school, her goals are to be active in clinical tracks and research at Backus, and author publications to celebrate completed work and innovations in practice.

“I value every patient and their family members and try to go above and beyond no matter why they are in our hospital,” says Katie. “I will do any job asked of me to help meet the needs of our patients.”

Katie’s can-do attitude doesn’t stop inside the walls of the hospital. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and traveled to New Orleans post-Katrina to help facilitate hurricane relief efforts. She has also worked with the Leo Club, Key Club and youth cheerleading.



Billie Jo Peloquin

With all of the positive qualities that describe Billie Jo Peloquin, team player ranks at the top.

With more than 20 years in nursing, charge nurse experience, Progressive Care Certification and an approachable personality, Billie Jo serves as a resource to her team and department.

“My coworkers consider me a resource, as do I them,” says Billie Jo. “If I’m asked a question and don’t have the answer, I will help find one using other sources. If I am doing a procedure that is not routine, I will ask other staff if they would like to watch or assist so they can be familiar with the procedure as well.”

Although Billie Jo currently works on E-3/PCU, she says that it was her two years in oncology that truly made her the nurse she is today. The experience made her stronger and she learned how to deal with a range of patients and their families.

“I cried many tears in those two years and I met a lot of people,” says Billie Jo. “We may not cure everyone, but if what we do makes things easier and a little more comfortable for our patients, then we’ve done a good thing.”



Josephine McDonald

Birthing Center registered nurse Josephine McDonald’s work in obstetrics has spanned more than three decades from — small community hospital to high-risk unit, from domestic to abroad.

Josephine was a “Navy Wife” for the first 24 years of her nursing career which she says gave her the opportunity to work in a variety of clinical settings.

“During the overseas tour, I volunteered at the Withybush Hospital in Wales and experienced medicine in the U.K.,” says Josephine.  “Relocating has helped me to develop strong interpersonal skills, flexibility and appreciation for different nursing systems.”

At Backus, Josephine arrives early for her shifts to review the patient census and works to match staff strengths with patients’ needs.  She will also see a patient through delivery when her shift is ending to help complete the birth experience.

Josephine is a member of two professional obstetrics organizations and is certified in Inpatient Obstetrics as well as Electronic Fetal Monitoring.  An advocate for quality and safety, she has developed a number of resources for departmental use and has served on quality improvement committees.



Renee Malaro

It is her military experience that gives Emergency Department registered nurse Renee Malaro the focus, discipline and integrity to carry out her vocation.

At the age of 17, Renee joined the Army National Guard, an experience that has shaped her personal and professional lives. A proven leader, Renee serves as a mentor for her peers and colleagues. She is a MediTech Supervisor, RN Preceptor and Charge RN Preceptor. She is also the Committee Chair for the Family Presence Program and serves on the Education and Frontline Leadership Committees.

Renee is aware that each patient is unique and has different needs. Recognizing these needs is crucial to creating the best possible experience for patients and their families. In the Emergency Department, where traumatic events are common, Renee does whatever she can to help alleviate stressors and give families the time and peace they sometimes need.

In addition to her work as a nurse, Renee still makes time to help causes she believes in. She volunteered for Relay for Life, a toy drive for children of a deployed parent and still works with the military as a victim advocate for individuals who have been sexually abused.

“There is nothing better than knowing you have a part in influencing and providing the best patient and family care that will leave a lasting impact,” says Renee.



Rebecca Lassan

Having spice and variety in life are must haves for D-1 nurse Rebecca Lassan.

Rebecca graduated with a diploma in nursing in 1959 from St. Joseph College in West Hartford. She then went on to earn a doctorate degree in Higher Education with concentrations in psychology and nursing. It’s safe to say that in her 53-year career, Rebecca has experienced the full-spectrum of what nursing has to offer.

She served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps before going on to teach courses for 30 years at the university level, both on the east and west coasts. She also served as an education administrator and admits to having two to three jobs at any given time.

Before retiring from the world of education four years ago, Rebecca worked per-diem on various floors at Backus including Med-Surg, Same Day Surgery, and with the IV Team. Now, she works 32 hours a week in Psychiatric Services.

“I really enjoy working with the staff on D-1,” says Rebecca. “I was pleased to receive the nomination as a Nightingale because it brings recognition to my department, which serves a large population of patients on the medical floors who have psychological and mental health issues.”

In her time as a nurse, Rebecca has seen tremendous change. The most significant change, she says, is the progression from nursing as a primarily all-female occupation in the 50’s and 60’s without much say in patient care to a more prominent role within the healthcare team.



Elisabeth Dowd

In her roles as preceptor, educator and Assistant Director of the Emergency Department, Elisabeth Dowd views herself as a servant leader.

Elisabeth says that the leadership team in the ED has strived to create a culture of openness to allow staff to feel empowered to engage with each other when issues arise. This culture helps to build trust among the staff.

“My goal is to make is to make staff feel comfortable to ask questions and feel supported,” says Elisabeth. “I feel it takes little effort to make all the difference. The frontline staff just needs to know there is someone there.”

Elisabeth, a former junior volunteer at Backus, is only seven credits away from earning a graduate degree. She is also in the early stages of a research study to decrease catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infection in the Emergency Department in conjunction with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The study involves the implementation of Foley kits in the ED.



Teresa Biss

A veteran nurse, Terri, brings research, experience and compassion to her work on A-3.

She has juggled many roles in her career including clinical director, preceptor and mentor, but most of all she prides herself on providing exceptional patient care.

The oldest of five children, Terri has been a caregiver since she was very young and tries to the best of her ability to comfort others. She says, “I detest pain and suffering and will do whatever is within my powers to alleviate it. I believe in treating people with dignity in health, disease and especially in the event of death and dying. Every human being has and is valuable, they all deserve the same level of kindness and loving care.”

Terri tells of the story of a 12-year-old patient who was dying from leukemia. It was the young girl’s one wish to babysit. She often spoke of this wish and upon turning 12, the girl’s mother allowed her to babysit. Terri brought her then three-month old son to the hospital and asked the young patient if she would watch him while she did paperwork. The girl was thrilled and wore a smile from ear to ear. Terri’s infant son, Derek, was equally mesmerized by his young caregiver. Sadly, Terri’s patient died a week later, but reached her goal.

Terri, who now has leukemia herself, is currently involved in efforts to bring bone marrow cheek swab stations into Backus and other areas. Her goal is to increase the number of donors in the national bank for transplant recipients.