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2021 Excellence in Nursing Awards - Direct Care

Photo of Noel Beboso

Noel Beboso
2 Orange – Surgical ICU

From his nominator: “Noel Beboso has been awarded our facility’s Customer Service Award five years in a row – a testament to his excellent nursing skills, team player mentality, and compassionate bedside demeanor. He has a way of making people feel comfortable and special when he is around. His fingerprints are on so many things at our facility. Mr. Beboso has helped approve new policies, educated other units on new innovations, and been the champion for multiple new initiatives. He is a leader and role model in our unit and is the clinical example many want to duplicate.”

Photo of Lauren Bereuter

Lauren Bereuter
Advanced Practice Provider
Anesthesiology & Pain Management

From her nominator: “Lauren Bereuter is the highest example set for nurse practitioners. She is a clinician, leader, educator, and researcher here at UT Southwestern. She is a meticulous, caring, and compassionate provider who is well known and liked by her colleagues and patients. Her clinical expertise has been well-earned through years of bedside nursing mastery. Ms. Bereuter is actively involved in clinical research. She is currently involved in one of the largest mobility studies ever performed in cardiovascular surgery patients. The work from her clinical research will have national impact.”

Photo of Felicia Berno

Felicia Berno
Ambulatory Triage RN
Neurology Clinic

From her nominator: “Felicia is a great problem solver. She not only recognizes where there is an issue, but she also develops long-lasting solutions. This nurse routinely receives positive feedback from patients regarding the care she provides. They frequently comment that she is proactive in making sure they understand their individualized plan of care and seeks solutions to ensure the patients have the resources they need. Ms. Berno continuously seeks ways to improve the cohesiveness of her clinical area and recognizes that healthy teamwork is one of the best ways to ensure the patients of her clinic are receiving the best care possible.”

Photo of Rhyan Brown

Rhyan Brown
Advanced Practice Provider

From her nominator: “As a tenured employee at Children’s Health (now employed by UTSW working at Children’s Health), Rhyan exhibits the values of excellence, service, and advocacy daily. She routinely rounds on the new APPs and serves as a reliable, consistent resource to the team, which cares for the complex pediatric population. Ms. Brown is a strong communicator who helps to make her area a positive and empowering workplace. Her collaboration with the nurses and leadership continue to make a notable impact on the culture. She takes ownership, collaborates to achieve quality care, and acts courageously on behalf of her patients.”

Photo of Chacey Cunningham

Chacey Cunningham
B.S.N., RN
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

From her nominator: “Throughout her career, Chacey has answered the call any time there is a need. In 2017, she responded to the need for nursing staff in Houston following Hurricane Harvey. For two weeks she worked in a challenging environment, serving the patients and nursing staff of Houston. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the Dallas-Fort Worth area, she stepped up to help support units that experienced an increased need for staffing. Ms. Cunningham has worked tirelessly over her career to model the spirit of nursing and has become a shining star among the staff at our organization.”

Photo of Verita Ingram

Heather DeGraffenreid
Nursing Services, Float Pool

From her nominator: “Heather is proactive and has exemplary environmental awareness. She steps in to help before anyone can even ask. She finds a way to help, educate, organize, mentor, and facilitate throughput at all times. Ms. DeGraffenreid is a pleasure to work with, and her co-workers, staff, physicians, leadership, and other departments praise her disposition, problem-solving, and overall contributions. She has received many compliments from patients and their families and her direct reports regarding her helpfulness, compassion, and attention to detail. Her hard work and passion to go above and beyond do not go unnoticed.”

Photo of Sara Gray

Sara Gray
3 Orange, Neuroscience ICU

From her nominator: “Sara is a role model for all nurses in our organization. With enthusiasm for the nursing profession, she precepts nursing students, new nurses, and interns. She is compassionate, caring for her patients as if she is caring for her own family. She is dedicated to educating both the patient and family, ensuring she understands the patient and family’s health literacy. Ms. Gray played a key role in the application process for the Neuroscience ICU to earn a key recognition. She organized a multidisciplinary team for the yearlong effort, resulting in her unit receiving the AACN Beacon Award of Excellence, Silver Designation.”

Photo of Kirandeep Kaur

Kirandeep Kaur
Advanced Practice Provider
Internal Medicine – Pulmonary

From her nominator: “To name each time Kiran has gone and beyond for patients and staff would take longer than the time frame for Halley’s comet to return to Earth’s vicinity. Preceptor feedback has always been that not only is Ms. Kaur wise and a patient care advocate, but that she is also patient and always teaching and giving guidance to all. She is now a Nurse Practitioner on the same service line in which she currently works as a staff nurse. She is someone who has done everything right, through a pandemic, and has transcended to be the best that Florence Nightingale expected.”

Photo of Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee
2 Orange, Surgical ICU

From her nominator: “Patricia was one of the first nurses to be on the care team for the first heart transplant at UT Southwestern. She is the one person we all emulate when it comes to the artistic side of nursing that is difficult to teach, but easy to see if it is done well.”

A patient’s family member wrote: ‘This angel was my husband’s nurse after his transplant. I didn’t sleep that night and I observed the awesomeness of this nurse. The whole time, she never rested. She constantly was moving, adjusting something, checking, recording, fixing, consistently by my husband’s side. She was his guardian angel that night and a huge reason his recovery was successful. Ms. Lee has saved lives time and time again and made it look easy.’ 

Photo of Elena Lucas

Elena Lucas
Ambulatory RN
Kidney and Liver Disease Clinic

From her nominator: “Elena sets the bar very high for the other nurses working within our organization. Her positive impact on our practice and the organization are palpable, as she causes everyone around her to perform better and better so that we all achieve higher goals. To her patients, Ms. Lucas is warm, kind, responsive, and knowledgeable. To her colleagues, she exemplifies optimism, teamwork, thoroughness, responsibility, and flexibility. To the doctors working alongside her, she demonstrates self-motivation and a strong desire to learn. Ms. Lucas’ empathy is endless. She will always point out the patient’s perspective – their anxiety, lack of knowledge, and their potentially difficult circumstances.”

Photo of Sarah Wilson McNeil

Sarah Wilson McNeil
B.S.N., RN
11 Blue – Bone Marrow Transplant and Hematology/Oncology

From her nominator: “Sarah Wilson McNeil immediately shone as a role model, despite a year wrought with big changes, both globally and unit-wide. A positive atmosphere of teamwork is a pillar of the culture of our unit, and she has truly embodied this quality since day one. Ms. McNeil has been a light on our unit. Her team regularly comments that no matter what the day may bring, we’re all going to get through it together with smiles on our faces if she is on the team. She truly exemplifies compassion and competence, and exhibits a true joy for her career.”

Photo of Sabitha Purayil

Sabitha Purayil
Assistant Nurse Manager
12 Blue – Medical/Surgical

From her nominator: “Sabitha is a wonderful nurse whom I would personally want to care for me if I were to fall ill. She models problem-solving, attitude, accountability, compassion, and teamwork. She was instrumental in advocating for early mobilization in the elderly population and proved that ambulation actually decreases falls and injuries. The staff knew Ms. Purayil would be a resource, support, and mentor, which brought comfort during an uneasy time.

Commented one staffer: ‘There is not a day that goes by that I am not amazed and inspired by her. She jumps in whenever needed with confidence, poise, and clinical expertise.’”

Photo of Laura Restall

Laura Restall
B.S.N., RN
Lead RN Transplant Coordinator
Kidney Transplant Program

From her nominator: “Laura has been with UTSW’s Kidney Transplant Program since its inception and has been its bedrock. In the program’s infancy, she served double duty as a liver transplant coordinator as patient volume began to grow for both new programs. She soon was named as a Lead Coordinator for Kidney and Liver Transplant, a dual role with leadership and direct patient care. Though people and processes have changed around her, Ms. Restall’s steadfast loyalty to our patients has proven to be a constant. She has learned to perform every role within her team, which allows her to competently provide cross-coverage.”

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