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Member News — Atlantic Health System Nurse Leaders Recognized for Accomplishments, Enhancements to Care
December 20th, 2018

Nurse leaders from two of Atlantic Health System’s hospitals were recently honored for their leadership and accomplishments by the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey (ONL NJ) at its Annual Holiday Meeting and Awards Brunch.

Sharon Kelly, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, nurse manager of the emergency departments at Overlook Medical Center’s Summit and Union campuses, received the Nurse Leader Award for her leadership, guidance and service to the hospital and the nursing profession.


“I am humbled and honored to be receiving this very special award today,” Kelly said. “I am fortunate to work in an organization such as Atlantic Health System, specifically Overlook Medical Center, that has allowed me the autonomy, different opportunities and the ability to be creative in my role. Being passionate about nursing, working as a team and forming partnerships with colleagues and other departments within Overlook, allows us to continue providing safe, exceptional care to our patients and communities.”

Tara Gleeson, DNP, MSN, RN, CPNP, manager of the Child Development & Autism Center at Morristown Medical Center, received the Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing Leadership Award for developing an evidence-based toolkit to assist practitioners in delivering comprehensive care to patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Additionally, Gleeson was recognized for her leadership role in creating the Child Development and Autism Center in Morris County.


“This award truly represents the commitment of Atlantic Health System to provide children with autism and their families with exceptional care,” Gleeson said. “Under the leadership of executive director Fran Drigun we were able to see our dreams for an autism center become a reality. I feel blessed every day to serve this population of exceptional children.”

In her nomination of Kelly, colleague Cornelia Gilpin, DNP, MSN, RN, nurse manager for nursing education, vascular access and acute dialysis department, noted her accomplishments at both the Summit and Union emergency departments.

Kelly worked diligently with the stroke and cardiac service lines and the sepsis team to improve the mean door-to-needle time for tPA for stroke patients, the average door-to-balloon time for heart attack patients, as well as other quality measures.

In further support of Overlook’s role as the premier provider of stroke care for the region, Kelly also worked closely with Union County emergency medical technicians to improve education and communication, which has contributed to the superior stroke outcomes at Overlook’s comprehensive stroke center. Her role was also instrumental in implementing telemedicine in ambulance transport vehicles for remote assessments and diagnostics in transit.

Under Kelly’s watch, the Union ED has been recognized three consecutive times with the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Lantern Award.

“Sharon’s participative management style has created a sustained culture of accountability and teamwork,” Gilpin said.

In her nomination of Gleeson, Fran Drigun, executive director for women’s services and interim executive director of pediatric services for Atlantic Health System, highlighted Gleeson’s leadership in the diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as other neurodevelopmental challenges.

“In 2010, as a clinical expert with twelve years of experience caring for the pediatric population, Dr. Gleeson recognized the increasing prevalence of ASD in the community and the lack of a centralized location for the provision of services to these patients,” Drigun said.

Gleeson created an evidence-based tool kit to assist practitioners deliver comprehensive care to their patients, while also developing the plan for the Child Development and Autism Center, which would fill the void of a hospital-based facility in Morris County. Under her leadership, the Center opened in 2014, and since then, its patient population has doubled and is still growing. The new Autism Center offers expert diagnosis and medical care, improved access to behavior, speech and occupational therapy, individual treatment and compassionate guidance. It also provides on-site access to a variety of complementary specialties including neurology, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychiatry and genetics

“Without Dr. Gleeson’s vision, leadership and dedication, the community would be without the Child Development and Autism Center and the extensive and essential services it makes available to this vulnerable pediatric population,” Drigun said.

Kelly and Gleeson were among 10 award recipients at the event, held on Dec. 7 at the Forsgate Country Club.

Brandee Fetherman, director of nursing at Morristown Medical Center, and Kristin Ospina, nursing director for critical care at Morristown Medical, members of the ONL NJ’s Finance Committee, accepted ONL’s Impact Award on behalf of the committee, for its work in financially supporting the organization’s numerous programs and initiatives.

“This annual event offers ONL NJ the opportunity to celebrate and honor individuals for their significant contributions to nursing,” says ONL President Ann Marie Leichman, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President Patient Care Services & Chief Nursing Officer at The Valley Hospital.  “The 2018 class of honorees is quite an accomplished group.”

ONL NJ has been the professional organization for nursing leaders in their quest for a united voice in representing nursing administration and management in all practice settings, and is inclusive of the engagement of all nurse leaders and aspiring nurse leaders in the state. ONL NJ is committed to ongoing professional development, creating and sustaining formal and informal nursing mentorship opportunities at all levels, and mapping the future of safe patient care delivery in NJ.

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