MKSCHC Celebrates National Nurses Week: Ulrike Powell Is MKSCHC Employee of Year

Rhodora Tira, in character as Dora the Explorer, reads a story to Gifft Hill School students as part of MKSCHC’s celebration of Nurses Week.

From hosting story time at local schools to sharing cookies and coffee with V.I. Fire Department members, employees at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center took time out last week to reconnect with the community.

MKSCHC employees focused on public outreach as part of their celebration of National Nurses Week, which culminated on Thursday, May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

The theme of this year’s week was “Trusted to Care,” and MKSCHC employees took that message to the community. On Monday, May 9, staff members shared coffee and snacks with EMS and Department of Health officials. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, Rhodora Tira — better known across the island as Dora the cartoon character she closely resembles — hosted storytime at Gifft Hill, Guy Benjamin and Julius E. Sprauve Schools, respectively.

V.I. Police Department and VIFD Cruz Bay staff enjoyed coffee and snacks with MKSCHC employees on Tuesday. On Wednesday Fire Department officials in Coral Bay enjoyed the treats before health center officials served senior citizens lunch at Bethany Hall.

“This year we wanted to celebrate the community in which we live and which supports us,” said Abbie Madsen, a nurse at MKSCHC. “You could taste, smell and see the excitement and enthusiasm of our outreach efforts a mile away. This year it was less about the clinic and more about reconnecting with our community and each other.”

On Thursday, May 12, MKSCHC staff took time out to honor their own during an awards ceremony in the health center’s conference room. During the ceremony long-serving employees were honored and the many people who help to make the center so successful recognized for their efforts.

Nurses are “champions of care,” who work long and hard for their patients, said Madsen, who served as host of the awards ceremony.

“They work long hours and carry a heavy load,” she said. “But they do it to make a difference in the lives of people they see and the community in which they live. We see people of all ages, all walks of life from all over the globe.”

“We have the best job in the world because we get to share in our patients’ lives,” said Madsen. “Although our days are long and our work load growing, when we see the difference in someone’s face, it reminds us why we are all here.”

Several bouquets from MKSCHC patients were testaments to the caring job of the nurses at the health center. R.L. Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Alice Taylor was on hand to share in the celebration.

“I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff here,” said Taylor. “This center has the best customer service scores of our three facilities. The center consistently exceeds patients’ expectations.”

As the regional medical center, which includes R.L. Schneider Hospital and the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Center in addition to MKSCHC, continues to improve its customer service as a whole, the St. John health center is leading the way, Taylor explained.

“This is really a team effort,” she said.

A large part of the MKSCHC team for the past 28 years, Ulrike Powell, was honored as the center’s employee of the year. While Powell, known to many as Ullie, was enjoying a day off on Thursday last week, staff overwhelmingly voted to honor her with the award, explained Madsen.

“The selection came from the staff,” said Madsen. “Some comments about Ullie were that she is ‘a highly meticulous individual with a deep passion for her job,’ and ‘she has been here longer than the building.’”

Powell is retiring this year after 28 years in MKSCHC’s lab and staff members wanted to “send her out with a bang,” said Madsen.

MKSCHC officials also honored long-time staff members for their years of service. Dina Alford has worked in the medical records office for 15 years. Ten year employees Valona Hendricks, Alyce Jordan, Christine Jordan and Abbie Madsen were honored. And five year employees Sandra Liburd-Santos and Rhodora Tira were also honored for their years of dedication.

Madsen also handed out employee appreciation awards to staff members throughout the facility from security officers to kitchen staff.