KOKOMO, Ind. – The Indiana University Kokomo School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (SNAHP) honored the achievements of its graduates, as well as health care professionals who have contributed to the field, with its Alumni and Friends of Distinction Celebration.

Dean Susan Hendricks led the event, recognizing its third class of Nurses of Distinction, as well as the inaugural honorees in two new categories; Distinguished Friends of the School and Allied Health Professionals of Distinction.

Hendricks noted it is the first time the awards have been presented as a unified school encompassing nursing and allied health professions.

“What better time to recognize and lift up those individuals who have distinguished themselves in teamwork, clinical practice, in leadership, and in collaborative partnership,” she said. “Like few other times in history, healthcare professionals have been called upon to work together, lead from where we stand, and serve as a beacon of light in a long dark period.”

Benjamin Liechty, director of alumni relations, thanked the recipients for their service, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The commitment to the nursing and radiologic sciences professions by the individuals we are recognizing this evening is unparalleled,” he said. “As proud alumni of IU Kokomo, we hope you will serve as ambassadors for SNAHP and our campus.”

Dr. Jean Putnam, executive vice president and network chief nursing officer for Community Health Network, was the guest speaker.

Those honored as Distinguished Friends of the School included:

  • Joseph Hooper, nursing. Hooper recently retired as president of Community Howard Regional Health, with 38 years in healthcare services. Career achievements include constructing a heart hospital and regional cancer center, initiating a neo-natal intensive care unit, and beginning new services such as cardiovascular and cancer programs at Community Howard.
  • Katrina Moore, allied health. Moore is the imaging manager at IU Health Tipton Hospital, with more than 25 years in healthcare services. She established her hospital as a successful IU Kokomo clinical site and implemented nursing orientation to imaging procedures there.
  • Jennifer Sexton, nursing. She is the public health nursing manager for the Howard County Health Department, with 28 years in the nursing profession — 16 in public health. Sexton led the department’s battle against COVID-19, initiated implementation of a chlamydia and gonorrhea testing program and non-syringe harm reduction efforts, and also began the electronic health record system for county residents. She is secretary of the executive board of the Indiana Public Health Association.

Allied Health Professionals of Distinction were:

  • Samuel Rhymer, A.S. ’19, B.S. ’20. He is Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (P.A.C.S.) administrator, clinical preceptor, and radiologic technology at Woodlawn Hospital, Rochester, with three years in healthcare services.
  • Bryan Robertson, A.S. ’12, B.S. 13. He is computerized tomography coordinator for the Indiana Spine Group, with 10 years in healthcare service in north central Indiana.

Nurses of Distinction honorees included:

  • Stephanie Collins, ASN ’05, BSN ’15. She is nurse manager of ICU, PCU and cardiac monitoring at Community Howard Regional Health, with 20 years in healthcare service. She led the two inpatient units that bore the heaviest burden with COVID-19 patients, and has achieved Nurse Executive Board Certification.
  • Melissa Hicks, BSN ’09. Hicks is chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care experience of IU Health East Center Region, with 12 years in healthcare service. She led IU Hospitals Indianapolis suburban region through COVID vaccination clinic start-up, is certified as a Gold lean process improvement expert and Clifton’s strengths coach, and achieved Pathway to Excellence designation leading IU Health Tipton and Saxony.
  • Paula McKinney, BSN ’99. McKinney is chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Woodlawn Hospital, with more than 35 years in healthcare service. She developed a program for Community Hospital, Munster, to reduce nurse turnover, and implemented the ASN program at Ivy Tech Kokomo in 2003.
  • Carla Meyer, BSN ’05. She is administrative director of nursing at Community Hospital, Munster, with 28 years in healthcare service. She developed and implemented a nursing clinical ladder program, and also services designed to improve the health of expectant mothers, serving on a statewide task force to improve pregnancy outcomes. She’s earned advanced nurse executive certification.
  • Julia Tennent, ASN ’83. Tennent recently retired as a staff nurse at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, with 43 years in healthcare service. She created and facilitated the OB department grieving program, served over 20 years on the annual March of Dimes fundraising annual walk and auction, and was Employee of the Year in 2007.
  • Lisa Willis, BSN ’14. Willis is a cardiology rounding nurse at St. Vincent Kokomo, with eight years in healthcare service. In her role, she serves as the link connecting the doctors and nurses, and is a leader in the cardiology unit.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana University Kokomo