Valley View supervisor up for state nursing honor |

Valley View supervisor up for state nursing honor

Valley View Hospital’s chief clinical officer, Deb Wiepking, is in line for the prestigious Nightingale Nursing Awards for Excellence in Human Caring for 2002.

“Through her leadership all the clinical departments are working together to achieve the best care for our patients … She has helped break down barriers between nursing and non-nursing departments with the patient being the center and not the departments … She is like the cream rising to the top,” said Valley View chief executive officer Gary Brewer in his nomination letter.

The award is sponsored by the Colorado Nurses Foundation and the Area Health Education Centers in Colorado.

It is named for English nurse Florence Nightingale, who established wartime nursing care during the Crimean War from 1854 to 1860.

Wiepking, who oversees the nursing, radiology and pharmacy departments as well as Roaring Fork Hospice, has been with the hospital since 1993. She started out as an emergency room nurse, then became the emergency department director, chief nursing officer and, since 2001, the chief clinical officer.

Wiepking was chosen as a regional finalist from among 30 nominees, including Valley View nurses Wanda Berryman and Laurale Cross.

She was chosen as one of two regional finalists at a dinner and reception held Friday at the Adam’s Mark hotel in Grand Junction, hosted by the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center.

The second finalist from the West Slope is Judy Goodheart, professor of nursing at Mesa State College.

Wiepking will vie for the state award with 14 other finalists. The award will be announced May 11.

In her letter nominating Wiepking for the award, acute care nurse Nancy Smith said, “Deb has researched and envisioned a health care team involving simple pure quality. She has worked diligently to improve seamless patient care in nursing, hospice, radiology, laboratory, respiratory therapy, acute rehabilitation, and outpatient rehabilitation.

“What meant the most to me was a staff nurse nominated me. It was such an honor,” Wiepking said.

Wiepking brings to her present position years of experience in one of nursing’s toughest jobs, the emergency room.

After graduating from the Molloy School of Nursing in Rockville Center, N.Y., in 1974, she worked as an ER nurse in one of New York City’s busiest hospitals, Columbia Presbyterian. That was followed by a stint at Queens Hospital ER. She moved to Denver in 1984, where she worked in the ER of Denver General.

She then went on to be the director of the emergency room at Longmont United Hospital.

After five years in Longmont, she and husband Eric, who is also a nurse, decided they wanted a lifestyle change. “We began to look for a place to call home,” Wiepking said.

They wanted to be in a rural area in the mountains. That place turned out to be Glenwood Springs.

“Here you deal more with people and families and you can help them more in a time of crisis,” she said, in contrast to the huge volume of patients in urban emergency rooms.

“At Denver General I sometimes felt like a traffic cop,” she added.

“I’ve had many jobs at this hospital. It’s made me more well-rounded as a nurse,” she said of her career at Valley View.

Her present job is focused on retaining nurses at Valley View. Many hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of nurses, but not Valley View, Wiepking said.

“My job at Valley View is to support the nurses at the bedside. I give them financial support for equipment and technology, and for the pay they deserve. I’m here to be their voice at the administrative level,” she said.

Wiepking also has high praise for her nursing staff at Valley View.

“Every nurse here is a Nightingale. They go above and beyond every day,” she said.

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