Nurses are the guardians of healthcare

Article Date: Mar 11, 2013

Bernadette Hansen.
(L to R) Marie Baker, team lead of the Critical Care Unit at Alegent Creighton Health Mercy Hospital talks with Advanced Nurse Administrator, Bernadette Hansen.

You may not know her name, but if you've been a patient at Alegent Creighton Health Mercy Hospital – you know her work.

Bernadette Hansen, RN, MSN, APRN-CNS, ACNS-BC, is the Advanced Nurse Administrator at the hospital. She works to develop the structure of processes that are used to provide the best care and the best outcomes to patients.

"Healthcare workers have an innate desire to do the best we can for our patients," she said. "My position allows me to look at the bigger picture, to help shape the way that we, as a healthcare team, provide high-quality patient care."

But she wasn't always so focused on her career goals. Like many of us, she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life when she went to college. But one shift as a unit secretary in the Pediatric unit at Alegent Creighton Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center changed everything.

"During one of my shifts, an emergency developed with one of our patients and I watched the nurses spring into action," she recalls. "Not only did they care for the sick child, but they also took care of the mother as well by offering her support and reassurance. At that moment, I realized that nurses are the guardians of healthcare and I wanted to be one."

Hansen, an Omaha native, went on to get her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, graduating with high distinction.

She worked as a staff nurse at Children's Home Healthcare and Nebraska Medical Center as well as a bedside nurse at Alegent Creighton Health Immanuel Medical Center. Prior to joining Mercy Hospital, she was the clinical nurse educator and coordinator at Bellevue Medical Center. Hansen joined the staff at Alegent Creighton Health Mercy Hospital in the fall of 2012.

"While I was working on my master's degree, I spent several hours shadowing one of the Hospitalists, Dr. Al Fouche, at Mercy," she said. "I remember being impressed with the staff – everyone seemed to work well together as a team and kept the patient as their focus."

She added that the hospital "genuinely has a family feel to it, with a deeply rooted culture of providing excellent patient care."

One of the other duties that Hansen oversees is the re-designation process for Mercy's American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet status. Mercy Hospital first earned Magnet status in 2005 and was recognized again in 2010. The hospital is still western Iowa's only Magnet-designated facility. Only six percent of the hospitals in the country achieve Magnet recognition and just three percent are re-designated by the ANCC.

"Magnet is one way for Mercy Hospital to validate and share our successes," she said. "Our focus is providing excellent patient care, monitoring outcomes to verify we are doing the best we can for our patients and employees, and raising the bar year to year for continuous improvement."

Another benefit to Magnet status is being able to recruit and retain talented staff. Nurses want to work at a Magnet-designated facility.

"Being re-designed is also a way for us to show the community that we're leading the nation in patient outcomes," says Hansen. "They can feel reassured that we will take excellent care of our patients."

Hansen says she is currently gathering the materials they need to submit to the Magnet program, which will be completed by April 2014.

Part of the Magnet requirements is continuing education. That's where the Heritage Awards Dinner comes in. Funds from that event send nurses and other employees to educational conferences and courses.

"Healthcare is becoming increasingly complex and we are challenged to do more with less in an environment that is always changing," Hansen said. "To meet these challenges, we must provide our staff with the most current, cutting-edge information on patient care. And the Heritage Awards Dinner funds have allowed our staff to attend conferences to gain insight into new innovations in practice."

Hansen and other hospital leaders have long credited the funds raised by this event with their on-going efforts to improve patient care.

"The professional development opportunities, funded by the Heritage Awards Dinner, often spark projects we put in place to improve patient care and that's good news for our community," she said.

The 2013 Heritage Awards Dinner at the Mid-America Center begins with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by a gourmet meal and the recognition program. For more information or for tickets to the event, please contact Christine Gochenour at or (712) 328-5141 by March 15th.

This article originally appeared in The Daily Nonpareil.

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