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Nurse Manager Earns Healthcare Achievement Award for Elder Care Initiative
Story Number is : 011418126
South Nassau Communities Hospital

The Long Island Business News (LIBN) recently awarded a “Health Care Achievement” Award to Joan Riggs, RN, for her advocacy and work in the area of hospital-based quality and safety initiatives tailored to the complex healthcare needs of elder patients.

LIBN’s Healthcare Achievement Awards honor individuals and organizations in the healthcare industry on Long Island for outstanding leadership and commitment to service excellence and innovation.

“This award underscores Joan’s commitment to our patients, the communities we serve and South Nassau’s mission,” said Sue Penque, PhD, RN, CNP, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services at South Nassau. “On behalf of South Nassau’s nurses, doctors, staff and administrators, I congratulate Joan for winning this recognition; it is well deserved.”

South Nassau’s designation as a NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders) hospital is a direct result of Ms. Riggs’ focus on and recognition that caretakers require ongoing education to have advanced intuition and training to anticipate and respond to the healthcare needs of elder patients.

After attending the NICHE conference in 2015, Ms. Riggs, Nurse Manager of South Nassau’s 38-bed Medical Surgical Telemetry unit, developed and spearheaded a hospital-wide initiative devoted to advanced tactics and elements of care for elder patients. Working closely with her colleague, Kathryn Geraghty, RN, who joined Ms. Riggs at the conference, they planned and delivered education to the nurse staff of Medical Surgical Telemetry Unit as well as nurse leaders throughout the hospital to improve the delivery of care for elder patients. Since the program’s implementation, 10 registered nurses (RNs) at the hospital have attained Geriatric Certification and at least 10 other RN’s became Geriatric Resource Nurses in 2016.
NICHE is an international program that provides principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for elder patients. Based out of NYU College of Nursing in Manhattan, NY, NICHE’s network has over 680 hospitals and healthcare organizations from the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and Singapore.
Ms. Riggs, who joined South Nassau in 2010 to serve as Nurse Manager of Medical Surgical Telemetry Unit, has been in the nursing profession 31 years and counting. She has also worked for more than 20 years in the Surgical Intensive Care/Trauma Unit, 3 years in PACU, and a year and half in a general Medical Surgical Unit working as a Staff Nurse/Preceptor and an Assistant Nurse Manager at the former Saint Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.
A 1986 graduate of Saint Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in 1991 and attained a MSN in Education from the University of Phoenix in 2016. She has maintained Critical Care Registered Nurse certification since 1993 and achieved Gerontological nurse certification in 2015.
Designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care, South Nassau® Communities Hospital is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services.
In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons, and is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program.
In addition, the hospital has been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval for disease-specific care for hip and knee replacement, heart failure, bariatric surgery, wound care and end-stage renal disease. For more information, visit

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