RVNAhealth’s Theresa Santoro Wins CAHCH 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership

RVNAhealth’s Theresa Santoro wins 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership

Prestigious annual tribute is awarded by the Connecticut Association
of Healthcare at Home (CAHCH)

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Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, President and CEO of RVNAhealth was officially awarded the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership on Friday, November 6th by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH). The prestigious annual award, presented at the CAHCH annual conference, recognizes a nursing leader who serves as a visionary role model, inspires others through development and life-long learning, incorporates technology into the practice of nursing and patient education; and consistently displays strong communication and collaboration. Santoro was nominated by her RVNAhealth team, the beneficiaries of her talents and vision.

Tracy Wodatch, president and CEO of CAHCH, and Kim Hriceniak, daughter of the award namesake, Judith Hriceniak, presented the award, sharing elements and excerpts from the nomination, which highlighted Theresa’s vision and energy, especially in a year such as 2020.

While many companies and organizations have focused on maintaining this year, Santoro’s leadership at RVNAhealth has been strong and progressive  – guiding the team through the unknowns of a global pandemic with our mission as a guiding principle;  leading RVNAhealth to an agency merger with the Bethel Visiting Nurse Association and New Milford Visiting Nurse & Hospice to enable all three agencies to better serve our patients and communities for generations to come; and – for the 8th time since 2011 – steering RVNAhealth to a Top Workplaces Award by Hearst Media, a recognition earned through employee surveys, a true sign of organizational health, respect, and engagement.

The following tribute from RVNAhealth Chief Clinical Officer, Keri Linardi, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPCA, is representative of what decades of Theresa’s colleagues and collaborators, all know about her:

Nurses are inherent leaders from the bedside, facilitating, providing, and promoting best practices and care for their patients. This clinical leadership often translates into excellence in nursing leadership as evidenced by mentoring, scholarship, commitment to excellent care, and the ability to respond to challenges with innovation.  RVNAhealth and I are fortunate to have someone who embodies true ‘Excellence in Nursing Leadership’ at the helm for us all.

Theresa is a powerhouse with innovative ideas and tenacity in getting things done. Since joining Theresa’s team, I have had the privilege of working closely with her and having her as my mentor. She leads with integrity and a dedication to excellence in all she does.

While the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership was officially presented to Santoro at the virtual CAHCH annual convention, the actual award was presented over a week prior, at RVNAhealth — by surprise.  With video camera and award in hand, Tracy Wodatch, CAHCH President & CEO, and colleague, Courtney Verissimo, travelled to Ridgefield to surprise Santoro and a roomful of close colleagues, friends, and supporters. “It was great,” says Wodatch.  “We mapped our course, traversed the state, and left joy and pride in our wake.  Our annual awards are very meaningful to us and to the recipients, so it was important to us to present them with the distinction they deserve.” Wodatch and Verissimo distributed all the annual CAHCH awards in this manner.

Santoro was duly surprised and speechless.  “It took a moment to understand what was happening,” she said. “I expected a simple meeting room walk-through with our Board Chair Eileen Walker, not friends and flowers.” Santoro’s impromptu words of acceptance express not only her supreme leadership, but also her recognition of those who work alongside her: “I am truly and deeply grateful for the award.  As we all know, the success of any journey does not rest on the shoulders of any one individual. Everything takes a team. It takes the work of a dedicated group of people with a solid goal in mind, and in my 21 years at RVNAhealth, we have had an amazing team to get us where we are today.”

Santoro also won the Judith Hriceniak Award in 2009, almost a decade after joining RVNAhealth as a per diem nurse, and a year after assuming the role of president and CEO.   The award is named for Dr. Judith Hriceniak (1938-2000), who began her career as a registered nurse and director of Home Care Services at Bristol Hospital in Connecticut, and went on to become an acclaimed champion and advocate of nursing education, serving as a mentor and role model, and receiving broad recognition for her achievements and contributions.

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About RVNAhealth

RVNAhealth is a private, nonprofit, Medicare-certified organization that provides exceptional home and community health care services, supports public health and safety, and has promoted the highest quality of life for over 100 years.

RVNAhealth’s services are categorized into four WELLs —including BeWELL: Services to Keep You Healthy; GetWELL: Services to Recover Your Best Health; StayWELL: Services to Remain Safely in Your Home; and ComfortWELL; Hospice Care to Provide Comfort and Peace. The WELLs represent our continuum of care that serves individuals across a lifetime. Services include wellness and prevention, home health, hospice, rehabilitation, community health, and skilled nursing, among others.

During RVNAhealth’s century of care, our name, services, and reach have evolved to meet the care and wellness needs of all those we serve, yet our focus on excellent care, quality and safety, and our guiding philosophy have remained steadfast – the individuals and patients we care for come first.