Tuesday, 03 June 2003 

Three nurses at Hilton Head Regional Medical Center are the recipients of the 2003 Palmetto Gold Award; Catherine Aitchison, Michelle Leahey and Suzanne VanVort.  The award is presented by the South Carolina Nurses Foundation to honor registered nurses that exemplify excellence in practice and commitment to the nursing profession.  This is the second year the Palmetto Gold Award, which recognizes the valuable contributions nurses make in health care settings across the state, has been presented.


“We are proud that three of our nurses were selected for this honor. Each one of them truly deserves this recognition for the contributions that they make to Hilton Head Regional Medical Center,” said Bobby Sue Earnhardt, chief nursing officer. “Their efforts help us provide quality care for our patients and help our Associates to give quality service. We applaud them.”


Aitchison, clinical educator, was recognized for nursing efforts to both the clinical staff and the community through her work on the Palliative Care Team.  She is very involved with our dying patients and their families.  Her care and concern touches everyone who deals with her in this regard.


Leahey, manager Orthopedic Unit and registered nurse, was recognized for the development of a comprehensive joint program and orthopedic unit at the Medical Center.   This nurse took a unit from concept to reality.  From coordinating seminars on hip or knee pain, pre-op education, tours of the unit, pain management and therapy, Leahey provides patients that are considering surgery with the information they need to make an informed decision regarding their care.  She also promotes the advancement of nursing in the facility by preceptoring any nurse interested in orthopedics.


VanVort, registered nurse and member of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, she is a consummate professional.  She believes that regardless of differences, nurses must remain a strong collective unit and be represented by their professional organizations.  VanVort cares for patients of all ages, cultures, socio-economic status, religions and education like she was caring for a member of her own family.