Public Release: 

Surgical critical care team at HUP earns Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence

HUP is the only hospital in Pennsylvania to achieve this honor in Spring 2006 from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

(Philadelphia, PA) - The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) is proud to announce that its Rhoads 5 Surgical Critical Care Team has earned the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, an award given by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and specifically designed to recognize the nation's top hospital critical-care units. HUP is the only hospital in Philadelphia, as well as all of Pennsylvania, to earn this recognition in Spring 2006 from the AACN, the largest specialty nursing organization in the world.

Critical care units that receive the Beacon Award have exhibited high quality standards, including exceptional care of patients and their families, as well as healthy work environments. Criteria for winning a Beacon Award include: innovation/excellence in recruitment and retention, education, training and mentoring, evidence-based practice and research, patient outcomes, creating and promoting healing environments, and leadership and organizational ethics.

George Iyoob, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager, said, "It's exciting to be recognized at a national level for all the hard work and excellent care we provide. What makes us special is the team approach and collaborative atmosphere we work in each day and our commitment to our patients and families."

There are more than 100 staff members, including 90 nurses, on the Rhoads 5 Surgical Critical Care Team. The team cares for critically ill trauma and post-surgical patients. On a daily basis, the primary nurses facilitate and coordinate the plan of care for patients and families, in collaboration with the healthcare team. "Our nurses do an amazing job in keeping the pieces of the puzzle together to provide the highest quality of care to our patients," said Iyoob. "Additionally, it is so important in any ICU area that the nurses support the family, keep them informed and show them compassion, because often the unexpected has happened."

"Our nurses act as advocates for their patients, placing themselves alongside the families," adds Victoria Rich, PhD, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at HUP. "The same nurse takes care of the same patient. Our nurses are not rotated from bed to bed. They develop a relationship and confidence with that patient. When you combine experience with advocacy, you can't help but win."

Vince Gracias, MD, Medical Director of the SICU at HUP, said, "This award is a perfect example of what you can achieve when you put patients first. Our team decided to lead from 'the bedside out.' The care of our patients is not driven by ego. Everyone has their input, everybody works together, and it allows for a plan for patient care to be dictated by what the patient ultimately needs, giving everyone the opportunity to have impact."

The outcomes are impressive. The average mortality rate in the Rhoads 5 SICU is about one-third of the national norm for the ICU patient population. "We get these patients through the ICU alive, when they are predicted to fail," states Gracias.


Editor's Notes:

For more information on the HUP Surgical Critical Care Nursing Team, go on-line to: To schedule an interview with a team member, please contact Susanne Hartman at 215-349-5964 or

For more information on the Beacon Awards, go on-line to: The Beacon Award is presented twice yearly. Nationally, in Spring 2006, only ten critical care units won a Beacon Award. This is the first time the Rhoads 5 Surgical Critical Care Team at HUP has earned this honor.

PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, with 65,000 members Its international headquarters are located in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Founded in 1969, the association now has more than 250 chapters worldwide and is working toward a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families, where critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

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