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2018 Salute to Nurses: A Noozhawk Partnership with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care

6 Santa Barbara County Caregivers Honored with Awards for Nursing Excellence

Carone Scott of DASH (Doctors Assisting Seniors at Home) says being a nurse has deeply enriched her life as she celebrated the award with close family and friends.
Carone Scott of DASH (Doctors Assisting Seniors at Home) says being a nurse has deeply enriched her life as she celebrated the award with close family and friends. (Nell Campbell photo)

For the past decade, the Bialis Family Foundation has quietly been recognizing a critical group of workers in the Santa Barbara community. Every May, to coincide with National Nurse Awareness Week, the foundation hosts a luncheon honoring outstanding nurses in Santa Barbara County.

To date, the organization has bestowed 83 nurses with its Award for Nursing Excellence. This year’s recipients are Vanessa Gonzalez, Charity Lawton, Alice Levine, Sandra Miller, Carone Scott and Elly Walters-Bible.

“Nursing is a profession that is often overlooked and rarely thanked,” said Ellen Bialis, trustee of the Bialis Family Foundation.

Bialis said she and her husband, Gary, created the award to acknowledge nurses, who they feel are often underpaid, overworked and providing a vital service to our community.

“This award was a huge honor to me,” said Vanessa Gonzalez, RN, BSN, who works in the emergency room at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. “Being a nurse isn’t just my profession, it’s who I am. I find great joy and fulfillment from helping others and I am honored that some one saw that in my actions and nominated me for this award.”

“I was speechless when I heard that I won,” said Carone Scott, R.N, with DASH (Doctors Assisting Seniors at Home).

In her acceptance speech, Scott explained how she knew at the age of 12 that she wanted to be a nurse. She left home at 15, putting herself through college, becoming president of her nursing class and eventually fulfilling her childhood dream, having spent the past 40 years working in various capacities as a registered nurse.

Alice Levine, who received the Bialis Family Foundation’s Award for Nursing Excellence, was honored for her compassionate care as a home-birth midwife. Click to view larger
Alice Levine, who received the Bialis Family Foundation’s Award for Nursing Excellence, was honored for her compassionate care as a home-birth midwife. (Nell Campbell photo)

“Oftentimes when people are challenged with illness or injury, or even a happy event such as birth, there is a trust and intimacy that occurs between a nurse and patient sharing information that is very personal and private, often fearful and vulnerable,” Scott explained. “Being a witness to the challenges, sadness, loss, birth and death and all parts in between is to bear witness to life as a human being.”

Award recipient Alice Levine bears witness to life on a regular basis working as a certified home-birth midwife. For more than 30 years, she has worked with women during one of the most transformational times in their lives. She works with a small segment of the population, and was extremely honored to have her work recognized.

“Working as a midwife is incredibly rewarding, humbling, sacred and astonishingly beautiful, and receiving an award for this work is terrific,” she said.

The other recipients include Sandra Miller, RN, LVN, who applied her nursing and hygiene experience to help create “Showers of Blessing,” a shower trailer for the homeless. Miller personally washes the clothes that are left at the shower and shops at thrift stores to purchase new clothes for the homeless.

Charity Lawton, RN, BSN, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant at Cottage Health who helps new mothers feed their infants and advocates for the Baby Friendly program. She says being a nurse is reward enough, but being nominated by one of her many patients was especially meaningful.

Elly Walters-Bible, RN, BSN, is a parish nurse at Cottage Health, and was recognized for her outreach to the Hispanic community, providing a bridge to help those individuals and families who lack access to care. She also serves as a mentor and role model to student nurses.

Elly Walters-Bible, RN, BSN, with Jan Ingram, is a parish nurse at Cottage Health. Click to view larger
Elly Walters-Bible, RN, BSN, with Jan Ingram, is a parish nurse at Cottage Health. (Nell Campbell photo)

“The awards luncheon is our favorite day of the year,” Bialis said. “These are extremely deserving people who work in a profession that doesn’t often get accolades.”

The six nurses were honored at a ceremony at La Cumbre Country Club, where nearly 60 people attended, including past recipients.

Patients, patients’ family members, and/or physicians nominate nurses, who then must pass a rigorous selection process. Award winners qualify by exemplifying an extraordinary level of direct patient care, enhancing the positive image of the nursing profession and possessing the clinical skills to excel in his or her chosen field.

Nominations are now being accepted for 2017. To nominate a candidate, please request a form by contacting [email protected] or write to the Bialis Family Foundation, Award for Nursing Excellence, Attn: Selection Committee, P.O. Box 30590, Santa Barbara 93130. Candidates must have a minimum of five years experience working as a nurse in Santa Barbara County. 

The Bialis Family Foundation is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, exempt under IRC §501(c)(3) and a private foundation under IRC §509(a).

— Santa Barbara freelance writer Ann Pieramici represents the Bialis Family Foundation.

Sandie Miller put her nursing skills to work to help develop portable showers for the homeless. Miller services the “Showers of Blessing” program, which provides a basic, yet vital, service to those in need. Click to view larger
Sandie Miller put her nursing skills to work to help develop portable showers for the homeless. Miller services the “Showers of Blessing” program, which provides a basic, yet vital, service to those in need. (Nell Campbell photo)
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room nurse Vanessa Gonzalez, RN, BSN, earned an Award for Nursing Excellence from the Bialis Family Foundation. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital emergency room nurse Vanessa Gonzalez, RN, BSN, earned an Award for Nursing Excellence from the Bialis Family Foundation. (Nell Campbell photo)
The sons of Charity Lawton, RN, BSN, IBCLC, with their mother’s award. Lawton, a lactation consultant at Cottage Health, says being nominated for the honor by one of her many patients was especially meaningful. Click to view larger
The sons of Charity Lawton, RN, BSN, IBCLC, with their mother’s award. Lawton, a lactation consultant at Cottage Health, says being nominated for the honor by one of her many patients was especially meaningful. (Nell Campbell photo)

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