Sara, a nurse since 2001, has dedicated her career to finding ways to make the neonatal intensive care unit less scary, less overwhelming and less isolating for NICU families, while also pledging to help fellow NICU staff understand the vital importance of family integrated care and how to shift the age old mindset of caring for "our patient" to caring for "the family's baby" and being a coach and supporter rather than the primary caretaker. Since 2001 Sara has been a critical care NICU nurse, a neonatal flight nurse, a NICU clinical educator, a NICU Family Support Specialist, a NICU/Pediatric Charge Nurse, a NICU/Pediatric department manager, Care Coordination Manager, Clinical Nurse Manager of Population Health and Founder/President of Patient+Family Care. Patient+Family Care began as a consulting company to assist hospital organization in evaluating their family centered care practices and being coached on how to implement practices that would help improve patient and family satisfaction scores, decrease length of stay, improve nurse/staff satisfaction, decrease staff burnout and reduce avoidable readmission rates within the NICU population. Sara quickly realized she missed the connection with NICU families and developed a unique on-line support and educational community for NICU parents that was claimed to be the "next big thing" in NICU family support by Deb Discenza in one of her articles in Neonatal Network. This on-line community is unlike the support groups hospitals work tirelessly at providing for families yet see grim attendance at. Why? Because of many reasons; inconvenient times, transportation issues, financial constraints, childcare concerns, post partum depression, fear, introverted personalities, limited time, time at the hospital is sacred for being WITH their baby, bad first impressions, etc. The list can go on and on based on each individual family. But this on line community is available 24/7 from anywhere a family has access to the internet. They receive education, information, recommended resources, have the ability to ask questions from a NICU nurse, connect with other parents (the peer-to-peer connection parents crave and experts highly encourage), and can connect with at 2am when home pumping! It works on their schedule with their comfort level. Patient+Family Care branched into staff education as well when they teamed with The National Perinatal Association and The Preemie Parent Alliance to co-create My NICU Network. This is an innovative and one of a kind partnership because it is a partnership where experts and patients have come together to develop professional education TOGETHER! In 2015, the Journal of Perinatology published the Best Practice Recommendations of Providing Psychosocial Support of NICU Families and My NICU Network has developed an engaging and attractive online course for NICU providers/staff that not only educates them on the best practices, but more importantly provides them with actual tools so they can implement the practices into their unit. What makes this project unique and so appealing, is that we had the patient voice actively involved every single step of the way; from the moment the idea was conceived, through content development and continuously as course instructors. Over 180 graduate parents from across the world completed surveys and their responses were incorporated into the material and 19 primary parents have been stable participants in the program. The goal is to educate ALL NICU staff how important integrating family as an equal member of the care team is! Sara is a nationally sought out speaker on family centered care topics and is a successful author. She has several scholarly articles published and recently released a text book on how care coordination in the NICU will improve outcomes when the implementation of family centered nursing care is a part of the unit culture. Sara has been recognized for her outstanding and innovative work in the NICU Family Centered Care space with the 2015 Lloydena Grimes Award for Nursing Excellence, 2014 Oregon Community Health Nurse of the Year award, 2014 National Association of Professional Woman of the Year award, 2013 Elaine Whitelaw Service Award Nominee, 2012 Oregon Nurse of the Year nominee, 2012 March of Dimes Leading Practice Award (for the development of a neonatal family support transport program) and 2011 Oregon Pediatric Nurse of The Year Award. Sara is married and has two young boys and lives in Bend, OR. In her spare time, she has served as elected board members on both the March of Dimes board and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Board of Trusties. She currently is the Oregon State Conference Chair and the Central Oregon Chapter Leader for AWHONN (Association for Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses). Sara's children are active in sports, 4H, horse riding and the family loves the outdoors!
Lifetime Achievement Nominee
I’m a Patient Leader