Midwest Nurse of the Year 2016

Kelly Honn

Midwest Region

Wheaton, IL Office

Meet Kelly:

How long have you been with BrightStar Care? Since 2-14-10

Credentials & Graduating School: BS in Finance, BSN-Nursing and U of I at Chicago, College of DuPage, Benedictine University

Why did you choose the nursing profession? The decision to go into nursing was definitely a calling. While working as a Financial Advisor, I started caring for an elderly neighbor with no immediate family close by. I took her to MD appointments along with ER visits and stayed with her during her cancer diagnosis. As I experienced different healthcare experiences, I thought to myself… I could do this and do a much better job with more compassion.

Why did you choose to work for BrightStar Care? I enjoy forming relationships with my clients and the many levels of care offered.

Favorite client moment/memory: Listening to a Hospice client share his WW1 stories while he lay in bed holding my hand.

Kelly's Nomination: With great pleasure I am submitting our Director of Nursing (DON) Ms. Kelly Honn for consideration as BrightStar Nurse of the Year. Here at our agency it is just so self-evident that she IS at all times our "Nurse of the Year". The challenge will be to communicate such in this letter.

Kelly started with us almost 7 years ago as an LPN, working PRN shifts at local skilled facilities and the like. She was working on obtaining her BSN, which she did and then went part-time with us for a season. Before nursing, Kelly's background had been in business, but once she tasted of the human service element in nursing she had found her career and calling in life. Please note that many deeply experienced nurses, included some on our staff have commented on how special Kelly's skills are, and her devotion to her clients and profession. These are nurses with 20+ years of nursing experience and they point out just how good and exceptional Kelly is in all that she does.

Eventually Kelly returned to full-time status with us, accepting a position as Assistant Director of Nursing as she trained and tracked to replace our founding DON Judy Flickinger. Kelly assumed the role of Agency DON on January 1, 2014 and accepted all the responsibilities of a 200 patient agency, management of 4 other Nurse Case Managers, National Account maintenance, field nurse staff competency training and all the other responsibilities of a large agency DON. In addition, she assumed a Director role on the Agency Executive Team, and recently became a shareholder of our corporate stock.

Kelly has absolutely flourished in her leadership role as DON. She simply, in quiet fashion applies her nurturing, caring, compassionate personage in everything she does. She does not seek for attention or personal accolades, but would rather just quietly leverage the best care possible for her beloved clients and teach the same to her nurse team. Sometimes this is done by direct care and management of some of our higher skilled patients, at other times she is managing her Office and Field Nurses to do the same. She has successfully maintained and enhanced the loving personal aspect of high clinical care started by our founding DON. We knew Kelly had "big shoes to fill" on this aspect of her job, but she did it with relative ease. As a result, our agency continues to have the reputation in our service area of providing over the top personalized, loving care to our patients.

Mentioned above was Kelly's transition from LPN to BSN, which shows an interesting aspect with Kelly. This nurse is just so inquisitive, especially related to matters of clinical care, that she never stops learning and growing. She is always enhancing her clinical skills not only for her own use, but also to convey those skills to her nurse team. With relish she takes on any new training that one of the National Accounts may offer, and usually drags along one or several others from nurse team. Recently she became a member of the Infusion Nurse Society (INS) just because she is deeply interested in expanding into this area personally, and also for our agency. As part of becoming a member of INS, she is taking a very detailed course in Phlebotomy which has required many hours per month training, this on top of a typical 60+ hour work schedule. The dedication this nurse shows to herself and to her organization is almost hard to understand. She is so giving there is almost nothing she would withhold in service to her profession.

Now for some of the stories. As her boss, the first one is mine. Last summer, due to an odd set of circumstances I gave a ride to one of our clients from the hospital to his home in Wheaton. He's a middle aged bachelor who lives alone, is usually quite disheveled, and is known by our field staff to be  a terrible housekeeper. As we pulled into his driveway in the middle of the day he said "Oh, Kelly has been here." I said how do you know Kelly was here? He said "look at that sack at my front door, she has finished my laundry."  There at the front door was a large sack of laundry that apparently Kelly had done and delivered to our client's front door. Had I not asked Kelly about this, no one in the office would have known of her quiet, loving, dedicated service to this client. I believe this dynamic happens every day for those fortunate enough to cross paths with Kelly.

The following input was given to me about Kelly from our Director of Clinical Compliance- "Kelly Honn, RN deserves to be BrightStar's Nurse of the Year!  Kelly is passionate about placing our clients FIRST which is difficult to do as DON at one of the largest and busiest BrightStar Franchises.  Difficult unless you work tirelessly, with utmost dedication, and many hours each and every week which Kelly does with a smile on her face.

As the face of home health care changes to a more skilled, high tech, demanding arena Kelly has really made this her mantra this past year personally and professionally.  She has taken responsibility for direct oversight of all National Accounts, increasing that business significantly since she has become DON. Personal contact with account representatives, ensuring up to date, complete physician orders,  and competencing and orientating field staff are things we see and hear Kelly doing each and  every day.  Kelly has coordinated in office training on new equipment, sought out valuable online training, and even has become a certified phlebotomist herself in an effort to increase our recognition as Intravenous Therapy experts in our area."

One of our long term RN Nurse Managers Phebe Johnson offered these sentiments of respect about Kelly-

"I am very pleased to send you a couple statements reflecting my admiration and respect for Kelly and her work at Brightstar. I’m delighted that she may have the opportunity to be the Brightstar Nurse of the Year. Two situations stand out as I think about Kelly’s responsibilities to her staff and our clients:

  1. She was available to help and support me when she came late one night to a client’s home where the client’s spouse became violent, threatened her husband’s life and authorities were called to the home by the angry spouse. Kelly provided the urgently needed immediate support to resolve a situation that required separating the client and his spouse, talking with the authorities, and bringing patient, understanding dialogue necessary to reduce tensions and let the situation cool down. Her reassuring and comforting words were needed to avoid what could potentially have been a tragic situation.
  2. In matters relating to both clients and employees, Kelly brings a strong commitment to her work along with the wisdom to seek the understanding of all perspectives before making a final decision."

Suzanne Knechtges, another RN Nurse Manager in our agency describes Kelly (her supervisor) as "always advocating for quality, always helping, it's not a 9-5 job for Kelly, rather it's a 24/7 service to her clients."

Suzanne also recounted how Kelly on many occasions has personally driven field staff from their homes and the train station to her client’s homes. She also remembered the time Kelly got a call from a client family member about a situation that was chaotic. Kelly turned to Kelly and said "come on Kelly, we're going to go give a client a bath" and off they went and did just that.

As Kelly Supervisor, I regularly review her performance, usually with the Traction People Analyzer which emphasizes our BrightStar Core Values. Let’s just say Kelly easily exceeds expectations on each and every organizational Core Value. The rating chart does not go high enough on several of them! She is a shining example of these values to us all, especially to her office and field nurse team. You should have picked up by now that:

  • She is so Open & Positive, sometimes remarkable so in the face of the stressful, chaotic nature of healthcare generally.
  • She “Serves with Passion” at all times, especially in the areas of quality patient care and protection.
  • She “Does the Right Thing” at all times just because doing such is part of her makeup.
  • She “Does What She Says” and as her supervisor that is so helpful to our organization.
  • You certainly should be able to tell she “Makes It Great” in all that she does. We are a “Great” organization because of her unyielding dedication to our clients and firm.

Right now, Kelly office is filled with stacks of boxes and packages which she obtained from one of our deceased clients. You see Kelly had supervised multiple weekly nurse visits for this special patient for almost 3 years. Obviously Kelly knew this patient well since his life depended on our service of his PIC line for needed heart medication. At the time of his passing, although he was a prominent local figure, Kelly was aware that he had no living relatives or close acquaintances, so she worked closely with the estate attorney in making final arrangements and clearing his apartment. After managing the returns of some very expensive pumps and equipment, Kelly brought the remaining medical supplies of value back to our office. She is now in the process of not only donating much of the valuable goods to a local nursing school, but the remainder of the supplies are scheduled to be sent to a developing country in need of such. This whole matter really exemplifies just who Kelly is. She is furthering the memory of this special person by giving to others with the supplies he left behind.

I'll close with a final sentiment that maybe best captures Kelly application of loving care to our clients. She has a nurse's intuitive sense about care quality issues. If and when she senses  in the least sometimes, that the best of care is not being provided to our agency clients generally, and her patients specifically, she becomes doggedly guarded about the matter. With Kelly it is all about patient care and protection, and if the CNA or nurse has to go as a result, so be it.  This makes it rough sometimes for recruiting and scheduling, but with Kelly the patient comes first, always. Kelly is usually so easy going, but when it comes to patient safety, we see a much more determined Kelly. Usually her "intuition" is dead on, and that field staff person ends up leaving us, but Kelly can show a fierce side on these matters all to the benefit of her clients and our BrightStar business.

For these reasons Kelly is our BrightStar Nurse of the Year every year and should be chosen for this award system wide in 2016!