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Stepp and Kern-Wells Named Among Great 100 NC Nurses


CaroMont Health is excited to announce that Penny Stepp, BSN, RN, CCRN, and Kathleen Kern-Wells, RN, CAPA, nurses at CaroMont Regional Medical Center, have been selected as Great 100 North Carolina Nurses.

Each year, 100 nurses are chosen in North Carolina for the prestigious ‘Great 100’ award, which recognizes nurses who exemplify the qualities of excellence in their profession and have positively impacted the image of nursing. Since 1992, CaroMont has had 81 nurses selected as Great 100 recipients. Stepp and Kern-Wells will be recognized with other honorees at the 17th annual ‘Great 100 Gala’ in Raleigh on October 17, 2015.

“Penny and Kathleen were selected because of their outstanding professional abilities and for their commitment to improving healthcare in their community,” said Kathleen Besson, Chief Operating Officer at CaroMont Health. “These nurses epitomize the mission and values of CaroMont Health.”

Penny Stepp, BSN, RN, CCRN

With 37 years of experience, Penny Stepp, BSN, RN, CCRN, is known for her honesty, accountability and integrity. Through her dedication to the nursing profession, Penny inspires others to consistently provide the highest level of service to her patients in the Cardiovascular Short Stay Unit at CaroMont Regional Medical Center.

Penny is an advocate for her patients and strives to live out her personal philosophy “to be the best you can be.” Her critical thinking skills, patient-centered approach and experience make her a strong asset to her team. She is a role model and resource to her peers, specifically her experience working with postoperative cardiac catheterization patients. Penny comes to work with a can-do, ready to work attitude and as a testament to her drive and dedication, she has been selected by her peers to receive her unit’s ‘Shining Star Award,’ a peer-selected award which recognizes nurses who demonstrate excellence in their areas of practice.

Penny’s enthusiasm for learning is evident in her professional advancement—she has achieved certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and spearheaded a number of educational opportunities for her colleagues. Actively involved in CaroMont’s shared governance, Penny serves as chairperson of her unit’s Staff and Patient Education Committee in which she assesses staff’s educational needs and aspirations and facilitates learning offerings for professional growth and ongoing clinical competencies. She also participates on her unit’s Competency Committee, creating innovative ways to teach annual nursing competencies in the department. She has also created an educational in-service to Post Anesthesia Recovery Unit nurses on “The Nurses Role in Caring for Patients Undergoing a Trans-Esophageal Echocardiogram.”

Penny’s desire to teach isn’t restricted to her peers as she serves an integral role in patient education and service. She achieved the highest level on the Nurse Career Ladder, a voluntary program offering nurses an opportunity to advance their skills. She also earned CaroMont’s Knowledgeable Nurses Outstanding Teachers (KNOT) Award for her role in developing an illustration of coronary and peripheral circulation for physicians to use with patients and their families called “Coronary Circulation.”

Penny’s involvement and compassion extends beyond CaroMont Health. She participates and assists with a variety of projects in the community, including charity motorcycle rides, the Shriner’s Hospital for children, the Salvation Army and homes for children. In addition to these, Penny has logged steps in the annual CaroMont Health Heart Walk and Relay for Life and rolled many a bowling ball for Holy Angel’s annual Angel Bowl. These activities reflect her personal values and echo CaroMont’s vision to promote individual health and vibrant communities.

Kathleen Kern-Wells, RN, CAPA

With nearly 30 years in the nursing profession, Kathleen Kern-Wells, RN, CAPA, is described by her peers as a role model and a loyal caregiver to her patients. Her gentle bedside manner, soft-spoken voice and easy disposition help her patients and their families to feel comforted during times of stress.

Kathleen’s relationship with her patients is evident by the numerous cards she receives thanking her for her time and attention and genuine concern for their wellbeing. She empowers and encourages each patient to be an active participant in managing their health issues by engaging patients and their families through active listening and teaching opportunities.

A certified Ambulatory PeriAnesthesia nurse and twice selected by her peers for the ‘Award for Nursing Excellence’ and the ‘Shining Star Award,’ Kathleen strives to exceed nursing excellence in her profession role. She is an active member of two professional nursing organizations, the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), and takes pride in empowering her peers to grow and advance in their professional practice.

Likewise, Kathleen is an advocate for professional nursing as she seeks out educational opportunities for herself and her peers and is a driving force on her unit’s Performance Improvement Committee. Her performance improvement project on the anatomy of coronary arteries and the identification of STEMIs in EKGs earned her CaroMont’s Knowledgeable Nurses Outstanding Teachers (KNOT) award.

A true mentor and leader, Kathleen is content working behind the scenes to support team success. She recently assisted staff on another unit on a patient education project about atrial fibrillation and a new electrophysiology lab process.

Kathleen’s loyalty to her community is as deeply rooted as the loyalty she gives to her patients. She is very giving of her time to local organizations such as Relay for Life, the CaroMont Health Heart Walk and Holy Angel’s annual Angel Bowl. She also supports the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Paralyzed Veterans Association of America, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Arthritis Foundation. Each summer, Kathleen and her husband support local food banks by providing farm fresh eggs and seasonal produce from their own garden.

Congratulations, Penny and Kathleen, on your 2015 ‘Great 100’ North Carolina Nurse recognition! We are fortunate to have such highly-skilled and compassionate nurses providing excellent care to patients in our community.

Categories: Health