Hospital News celebrates Nursing Heroes

    In honour of National Nursing Week, Hospital News will be posting nominations from our 2015 Nursing Hero Contest to celebrate the accomplishments of nurses.

    Meet: Kathy Zajac – who was nominated by her managers in the emergency department – congratulations Kathy! Here is her nomination:

    We are writing this letter to nominate Kathy Zajac for the Nursing Hero Award.  Kathy has worked in the Emergency Department at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (previously Peterborough Civic Hospital) for more than 18 years. She is a wife, mother of two teenage boys and strong athlete, playing competitive hockey, baseball and golf.


    In her numerous years in the Emergency Department Kathy has held many different roles including Charge Nurse, organizing the move into the new Emergency Department, participating in CBRN training initiatives, liaising with community partners for emergency preparedness planning and most recently in a newly created role as a Resource Nurse in the department.

    Kathy serves as a role model for many staff in the Emergency Department and is an excellent resource for new staff, physicians and corporately in helping to implement quality improvement projects. She has a strong commitment to improving the patient experience in the department, holding herself and her colleagues to the highest standard for delivering excellent patient care – many times you will find Kathy speaking with a patient, their family or offering a warm blanket and support to people in need in the department.

    Regardless of the pace and volume of the work in the ED, Kathy maintains a calm demeanor, demonstrates leadership and is able to anticipate patients’ needs, ensuring that the entire team works towards exceeding patient and family expectations every day. Her sense of humour, her approach to daily challenges and willingness to think outside the box and problem-solve proactively has allowed Kathy to excel and grow professionally.


    The relationships that Kathy has been able to build with the staff, physicians and the leadership team at PRHC are a testament to her character, dedication, and positive attitude that is present when she is working. Working closely with Kathy over the past few years, it is obvious that she is a highly engaged, motivated individual that enjoys her work and is a pleasure to work alongside – the department “feels” different when Kathy is present and her positive attitude helps to bring out the best in her colleagues, resulting in excellent patient care and a great working environment in an often hectic, and busy department.

    Most recently Kathy’s dedication to improving patient flow has resulted in her trialing a new role at PRHC – the role of Resource Nurse; a position that is focused on ensuring patient flow is maintained throughout the ED for both admitted and non-admitted patients. Kathy held this position for almost one year, demonstrating the vast potential for this type of position – she was able to act as a support person for her colleagues in difficult situations, provide support and mentorship to the Charge Nurse, facilitate conversations with the physicians to deploy them to the areas of the department where the need was greatest and countless other daily tasks. Through Kathy’s hard work and commitment, it became apparent what the potential for the role of Resource Nurse in the department was.

    The Resource Nurse position was pivotal to making and sustaining flow improvements in the department, creating excitement and capacity amongst the staff. Since Kathy trialed this position part-time in 2013, it has become a full-time position that is shared between two nurses and has been spread to multiple inpatient units across the organization. We are confident that Kathy played a key role in securing the success of this type of position and demonstrating the potential.

    Regardless of all these things, which Kathy would say are commonplace and “just what she does”, she is modest, sarcastic and a well-respected member of the ED team. We appreciate everything that Kathy does for the leadership, staff and physician group at PRHC and could not imagine a more deserving nurse.


    Stella Johnson & Noel Bennett

    Managers, Emergency Department