UConn Health Celebrates Its 1,000+ Nurses

6 chosen from among more than 30 nominees for 2024 Nightingale Awards

Nurse speaking to patient (off-camera) in hospital room

Sarah Abrams, staff nurse in the UConn John Dempsey Hospital Medicine 3 Unit, is one of six UConn Health nurses honored with a 2024 Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Photo)

As is tradition during National Nurses Week, UConn Health is celebrating its more than 1,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists.

Among them, colleagues nominated more than 30 for the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing, and from them, six were chosen for the 2024 honor, one of the profession’s most coveted.

“The candidates who received the award this year have all made a tremendous impact on patient care and the profession of nursing, demonstrated excellence within clinical care, shown a commitment to the community served, and have achieved a lifelong legacy in a particular field of nursing,” says Caryl Ryan, chief nursing officer and the UConn John Dempsey Hospital chief operating officer and vice president for quality and patient care services. “I am so very proud of all of the nominees and the Nightingale award winners. I thank all of our Nightingales for their dedication to clinical excellence and the patients we serve.”

The awards are named for the woman largely credited as the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. National Nurses Week is observed annually in the one-week period that ends on the anniversary of her birth, May 12, 1820. UConn Health is recognizing its nurses with a series of events and acknowledgements throughout the week.

UConn Health’s 2024 Nightingale Nurses

Sarah Abrams, BSN, MEDSURG-BC,

Staff Nurse CN3, Medicine 3 Unit

From one of her nominations: “She continues to seek ways in which she can grow, which directly affects the care that she delivers. As a mentor and preceptor, Sarah gives back to others in the field and this creates a beautiful ripple effect, allowing her positive impact to be even greater. She is showing other nurses firsthand how to treat patients and peers. Those who are lucky enough to be precepted by Sarah will learn how to interact with patients in a positive and impactful way, and Sarah’s influence will be long lasting.”

Deb Abromaitis MS, BSN, RN, HACP-CMS, CHC

Assistant Vice President, Accreditation and Regulatory Affairs

From her several nominations: “Deb has made a significant impact on patient care at the bedside and beyond. Regardless of her role, her focus has always been to put patients first, and keep them safe… She has left an impact not just on procedure, but also on the people she has mentored and guided. Personally, I can best speak to her influence on the nursing supervisor department. She empowered, educated, and advocated for nursing supervision. When faced with a complicated dilemma, we often take a step back and ponder, ‘What would she do in this situation?’”

Karen Altomari-Nelson MSN, RN, MSCN

Clinical Program Coordinator, UConn Medical Group Neurology Department

From one of her nominations: “During the last four years as a patient navigator in Neurology, Karen Nelson has made an extraordinary impact on patient care delivery, especially for patients navigating the initial diagnosis of MS while scared due to a new, devastating diagnosis of MS and the risk of COVID-19 while on MS medications. Karen has established a novel pathway for navigating the initial diagnosis of MS and the onboarding to achieve the highest patient satisfaction, compliance, and anxiety reduction about the new diagnosis, including one-to-one education, binders for patients, and information about the disease. In addition, Karen has established a multi-pronged approach to manage the infusions of more than 450 patients requiring complex infusions.”

Amanda Patnaude, BSN, RN

Assistant Nurse Manager, Intermediate Unit

From her nomination: “Amanda is the go-to person on the unit for any type of question. She has made intermediate care her passion and infused the unit with her personal brand of nursing practice. When Amanda is in charge, no staff member misses their break — she is the first to say that we must care for ourselves just as enthusiastically as we do our patients. Amanda is an excellent leader, role model, mentor, preceptor, and overall nurse. She leads by example and expects all of her staff to live up to these high standards. She views our unit as the best in the hospital and does not accept anything less from her coworkers; this has led to the continued development of hard-working, intelligent, and kind nurses on the intermediate unit and made the unit truly one of a kind.”

Sara Roberts, BSN, RN

Assistant Nurse Manager, Intermediate Unit

From her nomination: “Sara has consistently demonstrated empathy, compassion and dedication to both patients and her peers throughout her 14-year career as a registered nurse. She seeks out opportunities for advancement in her specialty and holds herself to a high standard. Sara is unwavering in her commitment to UConn Health, providing quality care to both inpatients and outpatients. Sara has a unique global view of the organization and not only is concerned with the success of her unit, but with the success of all units. She is a natural leader and consistently excellent performance has shaped her into a highly regarded member of the health care team. Her behavior is infectious; she is the epitome of an outstanding nurse and depicts what an assistant nurse manager should be.”

Anna Wroblewski, BSN, RN

Staff Nurse CN2, Critical Care Float Pool

From her nomination: “She is well-respected and consistently comes to work with a positive attitude. Anna has the heart of a teacher. She precepts new staff, providing them with a safe place to learn and grow. She has been a huge asset to the ED team as well, helping to care for ED boarders who are admitted and waiting for inpatient beds. When inpatient nurses are assigned to care for admitted patients boarding in the ED they are often nervous as they feel out of their element. Anna orients them to the workflow in that area, keeping things organized and optimizing throughput while making patient safety a top priority.”