Congratulations to Janell Smith, RN, Critical Care Nurse Manager, the 2021 recipient of the Making a Difference Award. The Making a Difference Award is the highest honor a team member can receive at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and recognizes team members who have made continued, outstanding contributions to our patients, families and team. The award honors the memory of Kristin Rohlf-Leimer and Julie Plossl, who contributions continue to touch the lives of others each and every day.
The following story describes Janell’s impact at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.
Janell Smith has been with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines for more than 25 years. She was hired in 1996 as a staff RN in critical care. Other than short stents as a house supervisor and in the simulation lab, Janell has spent her entire career in critical care, being promoted over time to her current position as Nurse Manager II, Critical Care. In this role, she manages the operations of the critical care units at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Methodist West Hospital.
Janell exemplifies the FOCUS values of UnityPoint Health – she lives them every moment of the day at work, home and in the community. She is known for being an amazing leader and bedside nurse. As a leader in critical care, she is available and engaged with all her team members, whether it is offering support during a difficult day, providing a listening ear, being an advocate for safety, or standing among them lending a helping hand. Her personal hand-written notes and phone calls have lifted the spirits of many and truly demonstrates her commitment to her team.
Janell has a reputation for being a hands-on leader that is always the first to say, “What can I do to help?”. She continually checks in on each critical care unit, listens to recommendations made by team members, and does an exceptional job of taking that feedback to heart. She physically rounds on each campus, will work overnights, evenings and will still be present and engaged during the day for meetings and activities. Janell has a knack for identifying a specific passion in an individual team member and can turn that passion into positive patient outcomes while increasing employee satisfaction at the same time.
Joyce McDanel, vice president of Human Resources and Education says, “I remember reaching out to Janell in 2019 to ask her to present during the “Secret Sauce” segment of our Management Team Meeting to share how she serves her team as a leader and achieves such high Leadership Index and Engagement Index scores on the Your Voice Matters Survey; Janell’s scores are consistently high. Janell’s response was, ‘I don’t think I do anything special, it’s all about my team.’ I encouraged her to go ask her team members why they give her such high scores. Janell was humble, as usual, but did in fact take that advice and had an opportunity to hear directly from her team how she is such a great leader.
During the past two years during the COVID pandemic, Janell truly shined as she worked tirelessly to manage the overwhelming impact this illness had on the critical care team. At the very start of the pandemic, Janell held weekly calls with her team to keep them updated on ever-changing information. She maintained regular Unit Based Council and department meetings over the last two years to involve team members in decisions and keep them informed. She showed true dedication to her profession by working alongside the team and advocating for their safety and safety of their patients and families. In addition to supporting her team, her focus never left the importance of providing quality patient care and the best patient experience possible. An example is her work to continue to provide an adapted version of a donor walk when visitor restrictions were at the strictest point and providing exceptions for loved ones to be with patients when the need was there. According to the critical care team, she is the epitome of what a leader should be. They reflect on a mantra from the Army that says, “a true leader is one who leads from the front”.
Janell’s contributions to UnityPoint Health – Des Moines are immeasurable. The way she unites team members from across our campuses and makes each person feel important and valuable is to be admired. She leads by example and makes you want to be better because she is kind, honest and has a gift for treating everyone with compassion and respect. Janell is the embodiment of this award and deserves to be acknowledged for Making a Difference.