Two Salem Health nurses won awards for "nurse of the year" during a March of Dimes ceremony last week (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

Two Salem nurses were acknowledged for excellence during the annual March of Dimes Nurse of the Year awards recently in Portland.

Salem Health’s Kelly Honyak and Kelsie Galusha were two of 13 winners in the Oregon/Southwest Washington region.

Honyak won in the nurse educator and research category and Kelsie Galusha won in the women’s health category.

Galusha was hired at Salem Health in August 2017. Honyak has worked at Salem Health since 1990.

Jacqueline Forsythe, executive director March of Dimes Greater Oregon, said nominations for the award came from family members, patients or peers.

She said it’s a rigorous selection process, the nurse has to first be nominated and then fill out an application that’s rated and ranked by nurse leaders across the state.

Forsythe said there were 337 nominations and 177 applications. Out of that, 38 finalists were chosen and 13 winners were announced during the breakfast awards ceremony last week.

Forsythe said the winners were chosen for their impact on patients, colleagues or students.

 “By the time you get down to those 38 its really, really difficult to choose,” she said. “All of the winners made a major impact to their organization overall.”

Forsythe said nurses are often unsung heroes and this award gives them much-needed recognition.

In Galusha’s application, she included quotes from patients who described how kind and caring she was while they were in labor.

She also included quotes from her peers who describe her as a team player with a positive attitude.

“Kelsie is an amazing learner, she is self-reflective and asks quality questions which helps her to adjust her practice accordingly. Kelsie utilizes excellent communication skills and does a good job of keeping the charge RN's apprised of changing patient information. Kelsie particularly excels in her teamwork. She is always the first to volunteer to help out on the unit. Her willingness and motivation are an admirable example to the team,” read one quote.

Galusha couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jeanine Scott, clinical education manager at Salem Health, said she believes Honyak was chosen because of the work she’s done for the nurse residency program and the help she’s given new graduate nurses going into critical care.

She said Honyak strives for excellence and always goes above and beyond to support other nurses.

 “She’s very positive, she’s very driven to help others succeed,” Scott said. “She’s very much the advocate for the new nurse and anybody who’s new to the profession.”

Honyak does one-on-one tutoring with new nurses and developed an orientation program for the critical care unit. Honyak said that was what her application was centered around.

“I love doing that and seeing somebody who is so confused suddenly have the light bulb come on and get it,” Honyak said.

She said it was one thing to be recognized by March of Dimes, an organization that doesn’t know her personally “but to be recognized by the people who work with me every day is really something.”

She said she’s gotten phone calls, texts and Facebook messages congratulating her.

“I really feel like this award, it’s a group award because we all work together and we collaborate every day,” she said of her staff.

Honyak was surprised when she was called on stage to accept the award.

She said, “When they called my name my husband had to nudge me because I wasn’t expecting it.

“It’s kind of embarrassing a little bit, but it’s amazing too.”