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Rosalee Diamond, Beth DuChateau, Christine Kirst, Thora Thollefson and Michelle Free

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing and College of Nursing Board of Visitors honored five top Wisconsin nurses on April 6 with the Nightingale Award for Nursing Practice.

The prestigious award, named in honor of Florence Nightingale, recognizes registered nurses for excellence in clinical nursing practice. Each recipient receives a cash prize and an original commemorative award symbolizing the Nightingale’s spirit.

The 2017 award recipients include: Rosalee Diamond, of Aspirus Medford Hospital; Beth DuChateau ’88, of ThedaCare; Michelle Free, of Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital; Christine Kirst, of Aurora Medical Center Grafton; and Thora Tollefson, of Ascension St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Diamond has served as a registered nurse at Aspirus Medford Hospital for the past eight years. She is a role model as evidenced by her bedside interactions and her ability to troubleshoot and safeguard positive patient outcomes. Diamond has been instrumental in developing the hospital’s Focus on Health and Stepping On programs. She recently took on the new role of house supervisor, serving as the night shift leader for all patient care areas.

DuChateau, of Fox Crossing, has worked as a nurse in Wisconsin for 41 years. She joined the ThedaCare team in 1998 as a quality coordinator. She helped implement the first computer software for home care and hospice documentation and billing. For the past 12 years, she has served as the hospice patient care coordinator. She has overseen the end-of-life care delivered to more than 12,000 patients and their families.

For 20 of her 22 years as a registered nurse, Free, of Mosinee, has worked at Saint Joseph’s in Marshfield. She is a devoted neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse. She helps families deal with their overwhelming feelings when they have a preemie or an infant who requires a high level of neonatal care. She also serve as chair of the transport team that travels to other hospitals to bring back fragile infants needing care at Saint Joseph’s.

Kirst, of West Bend, is a clinical nurse who works in the post-anesthesia care unit and preadmission testing for Aurora in Grafton. She provides exceptional care through her critical assessment skills and patient advocacy. She also serves as chair of the nursing practice council for two hospitals. Kirst coordinated efforts to increase care plan completion of 50-60 percent to 90 percent. In 2016, she coordinated the updating of all nursing standards of care for every nursing department in the hospital.

With 21 years of experience as an evidenced-based clinical nurse, Tollefson, of Marshfield, provides exceptional care to her patients and their families at Ascension. She has a background in military nursing, where she served as a staff nurse and a head nurse. At St. Joseph’s, she has reached the highest level for a clinical nurse in her work on the surgical intensive care unit. She also serves as coordinator of the facility’s Critical Care Residency.

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