Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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20 Employees Honored With President's Award

Co-workers, family members and friends turned out March 27 to honor the latest recipients of the Cedars-Sinai President’s Award.


Anitha Bheemanpally
Controlled Substance Auditing Tech
Pharmacy Services

Anitha plays an important role monitoring the use of controlled substances throughout the hospital, working closely with anesthesia and nursing staff to ensure the safe and appropriate use of these drugs. She performs daily audits of records from automated medication dispensing systems, examines patient charts and other data, and analyzes information to reconcile discrepancies. She also has a keen eye for process improvement. For example, she played a key role in the validation of a new CS-Link™ reconciliation report that has streamlined auditing workflows. Anitha has received several commendations from her colleagues for her dedication to quality patient care and teamwork.

Katherine Kearney
Clinical Lab Scientist III
Division of Clinical Microbiology
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

A strong advocate of quality and patient safety, Katherine has worked in the microbiology laboratory at Cedars-Sinai for 31 years. She plays an important role in hospital and outpatient care by performing a variety of tests that help clinicians diagnose and treat infections. Katherine uses her extensive technical expertise and experience to evaluate lab work and enhance quality. Katherine also is a dedicated volunteer who leads blood drives that help save lives. She serves as the co-captain for the Microbiology Division’s annual blood drive conducted by the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. In 2016, the division won the award for most units of blood collected. She recently helped high school youths in Camp Fire, a community service organization, launch an annual blood drive in Long Beach. The first drive, held during a summer camp, brought in 85 donors/units.

Divya Morris
Support Services Supervisor
Central Dispatch Services

Under Divya’s leadership, Central Dispatch Services has taken on new responsibilities and significantly improved productivity and efficiency—increasing the department’s value to patients and staff. Divya oversees a team of 20 dispatchers who handle nearly 5,000 calls per week, with a commitment to providing the highest-quality customer service. Since Divya became supervisor in 2017, the Call Center’s productivity has increased by more than 75 percent. Not only has she raised the standards for hiring and performance, she has coordinated more training to develop her team’s technical skills—and has helped to boost employee engagement scores. Divya reminds her team that every time a patient or staff member fails to get through to the Call Center on the first try, there is a missed opportunity to help someone. She has reduced the dropped-call rate from a high of 604 in 2015 to just 37 in 2017.


Loreta Ayvazyan, BSN, RN, CCRN
Clinical Nurse III, OR/Anesthesia

After working in intensive care for seven years, Loreta moved into her current role, providing preoperative care for patients, assisting anesthesiologists with nerve block injections prior to surgery and assisting in the recovery room. For her work in OR/Anesthesia, Loreta has received numerous commendations for her close attention to patient safety and her willingness to help wherever she is needed. She is known among her colleagues as a dedicated team member who will not sit down unless everyone’s work is completed. As the SCORE (Safe Care in the O.R. Everytime) champion in her unit, Loreta takes the lead in looking for ways to increase patient safety in the operating room. She helps patients feel at ease by offering reassuring, upbeat words as she prepares them for surgery.

Kathryn Bornhurst, RN-BC, CCTC, BSN
Supervisor, Clinical Operations/Lead Clinical Program Coordinator,
Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program/Comprehensive Transplant Center

Kathryn delivers superb care to patients in collaboration with her team members in transplantation. A Cedars-Sinai employee for nearly 18 years, she evaluates patients to determine if they are candidates for a kidney or pancreas transplant and coordinates the pre-surgery process while on call for organ offers. She is a strong patient advocate who helps patients get on the national transplant waiting list, and takes quick action to prepare them for surgery when an organ becomes available. Kathryn has been a vital part of the growth of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program. She was instrumental in refining the transplant candidate referral process to improve screening and create a fast track for those in greatest need. Kathryn serves as a spokesperson for these transplant programs during regulator audits. She also mentors new team members, nursing students and volunteers.

Jean Dolaway, MS, PT
Physical Therapist III, Acute Therapy Services

Jean has been a physical therapist at Cedars-Sinai for nearly 25 years. She specializes in pediatrics and has received numerous letters from parents expressing their gratitude for her professionalism, care and optimism while caring for fragile babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Jean serves on the NICU Developmental Care Committee and the NICU Patient and Family Centered Care Council, as well as being part of a team of volunteers who makes Halloween costumes for NICU babies each year. Jean additionally provides physical therapy for infants and children in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit who are recovering from cardiac or neurological surgery. She assists them in regaining the ability to roll, crawl, sit up or walk. While working to maximize each child’s ability to grow and develop, she educates parents in how to care for their children and offers the entire family emotional support, empathy and hope.

Jessica Insisoulath, MPH, CPHQ
Associate Director, Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
and Ambulatory Care Clinics

Collaborating with executives, physicians, administrators and others, Jessica leads quality-and performance-improvement initiatives for the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute (SOCCI) and numerous ambulatory care clinics. Her multifaceted role includes ensuring compliance with regulatory standards; providing training to help SOCCI and outpatient clinics prepare for accreditation surveys; and establishing systems for measuring clinical quality, performance, efficiency and outcomes. Jessica works closely with the Office of Licensure, Accreditation and Regulation and the epidemiology team to prepare for accreditation surveys. She is a results-oriented leader with a passion for quality improvement, and she always is willing to jump in and do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Leonel Jimenez, MSN, RN-BC
Clinical Nurse III, Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program/
Comprehensive Transplant Center

A native of Costa Rica whose family emigrated to Boston when he was 9, Leo plays a crucial role on the kidney transplant team by providing culturally sensitive care to Spanish-speaking patients. He evaluates patients to determine whether they qualify for a transplant, assists them with paperwork and other preparations for surgery, and provides education and support to help the process go smoothly. He encourages patients to be proactive about asking questions and ensures they understand their condition, treatment and recovery process. Leo has earned numerous commendations for his exceptional care of Spanish-speaking kidney transplant patients. His compassion for patients has led him to participate in two Cedars-Sinai medical missions to Guatemala, where he served as a triage nurse in a mobile hospital.

Carol McCann, BSN, RN
Assistant Nurse Manager, Spine Center

Carol coordinates clinical operations to ensure Spine Center specialists always have the staff they need to keep clinics running smoothly. She is a hands-on leader who steps in and helps care for patients so she can better understand what various clinics need. Her efforts keep the Spine Center well prepared to handle as many as 3,000 patient visits each month. Carol makes sure the center meets all licensure and accreditation requirements and always is ready for The Joint Commission and Magnet surveys. Her top priorities include process improvement and quality assurance, and she conducts research that leads to benefits for patients—such as shorter length of stay, fewer readmissions and better pain management. A member of the Cedars-Sinai Critical Incident Stress Management response team, Carol is on call around the clock to help employees cope with crisis situations.


Kathleen Burgner, MSN, RN-BC
Education Program Coordinator, 3 South/Obstetrics and Gynecology

Kathleen provides education for postpartum and nursery staff, using the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills to teach nurses how to perform best practices, recognize problems early and handle emergency situations effectively. She recently trained 150 nurses in providing quality “couplet care” that focuses on the needs of both mother and baby. A Cedars-Sinai employee for more than two decades, she also teaches nurses how to educate mothers so they will feel confident about breastfeeding and taking care of their baby when they return home. Kathleen keeps up with changes in healthcare to make sure the education she provides incorporates the most advanced knowledge about medical practice as well as Cedars-Sinai policies. She also handles onboarding and orientation of nurses and clinical partners in Obstetrics and Gynecology and has received commendations for the way she mentors recent nursing graduates.

Chinyere Iwu
Clinical Partner, 8 Northeast/Nursing

Chinyere always goes the extra mile to make sure patients are safe and comfortable. She strategizes the timing of her care with nurses to ensure hourly rounding while avoiding overstimulation of patients recovering from brain surgery. She has received numerous commendations from colleagues, patients and family members who are grateful for her compassionate bedside manner and attentive care. Her co-workers especially appreciate how she volunteers to help without being asked and works tirelessly to provide the highest-quality care. She takes time to have meaningful conversations with patients and lifts their spirits with her infectious smile.

Yael Kessler, RN, BSN, CCRN
Clinical Nurse III, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)/
Congenital Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CCICU)

As a nurse specializing in pediatric critical care, Yael is dedicated to helping Cedars-Sinai’s tiniest patients overcome major health challenges. She helped develop the Vera and Paul Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program and serves as a charge nurse in the Congenital Cardiac ICU. Yael is committed to process improvement. She was part of a team that pioneered a needle-free method of sedation to minimize pain and discomfort for children during echocardiograms. She also helped streamline the preoperative process to make it easier for pediatric patients and their parents. Yael has a passion for bringing healthcare to the developing world. Last year, she volunteered for three months as a PICU nurse on the Africa Mercy Ship, docked in Benin, West Africa, to provide surgical care for children. She also spent two weeks in South America on a mission with the International Congenital Heart Foundation to help nurses in Guyana establish a cardiac care program.

Marie Navarro, MSN, CCRN, RN-C
Clinical Nurse III, 5 Saperstein Critical Care Tower/
Critical Care Services/Trauma/Transplant SICU

A critical care nurse at Cedars-Sinai who has worked the night shift for 17 years, Marie is known for delivering the highest-quality care while providing emotional support for patients and families. She recognizes subtle changes in the condition of patients and acts quickly to prevent emergency situations. With her strong leadership skills, she is frequently assigned as a charge nurse. She co-chairs the Rewards and Recognition Committee and is a member of the Unit Practice Council, as well as a team that educates staff on how to prevent central line dislodgements. She also serves as an ambassador who motivates staff to complete the annual Employee Engagement Survey. Her enthusiasm helped her unit achieve 100 percent participation in the latest survey. A graduate of the Cedars-Sinai Rising Star Program, Marie mentors and trains new hires and interns, among others. She also organizes celebrations and events to promote staff camaraderie and unity.

Yesol Sapozhnikov, MSN, RN, OCN
Education Program Coordinator, Medical Surgical Services

Yesol is an innovative educator dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of nurses, and improving clinical and operational efficiency. She led an effort to streamline the RN Skills Lab curriculum and maximize use of technological resources at the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills. She also teaches courses that train nurses in electrocardiogram interpretation and central catheter line care. Yesol joined Cedars-Sinai in 2012 as a nurse, caring for bone marrow transplant patients. She assumed her current role in 2014 and now uses her background in oncology to teach courses in collaboration with a hematology/oncology clinical nurse specialist. She makes sure the training reflects current scientific evidence. Yesol recently became the first person to earn a master’s degree in Cedars-Sinai’s Graduate Programs in Biomedical Science and Translational Medicine.


Suzan Ballentine
Operations Manager, Medical Network

Suzan brought many years of operational experience and strong leadership skills to the Medical Network when she joined the strategic integration team in 2015. She effectively navigates the challenges of growth and helps those who are new to Cedars-Sinai learn what they need to know about systems, workflows, policies and procedures. Suzan has been instrumental in the successful integration of seven San Fernando Valley medical groups—four primary care and three oncology practices—that recently have joined the Medical Network. She has been deeply involved with preparations for the buildout and opening of Cedars-Sinai’s next large, multispecialty office in the Valley, which will accommodate oncology, primary care, radiation therapy and rotating specialists. Suzan is highly respected as an expert on complex workflows and the different cultures at clinical sites outside Beverly Hills. She skillfully manages issues and needs of various physician groups while advancing Cedars-Sinai’s mission as the Medical Network expands.

Joanna Vanegas
Patient Services Representative III, Medical Network

Over the past two years, Joanna has played a vital role in developing and implementing the Practice Transformation project, which standardizes care across physician offices, and increases operational and clinical efficiency to make the healthcare experience more satisfying for providers and patients. Joanna worked closely with the project team to revise processes and develop standard workflows, then became a highly effective trainer who helped physicians, medical assistants and patient services representatives adopt changes. While continuing to support transformation processes, Joanna recently assumed a challenging new responsibility—managing the schedules of 48 physicians at seven medical offices. She keeps their schedules updated and coordinates changes with lead physicians, managers and others to help ensure smooth operation.


David Gonzalez, ILAM, RLATG
Facilities Operations Manager, Comparative Medicine

Known as a program and professional development guru, David manages a team that provides technical expertise in Laboratory Animal Science essential to medical advances in treating heart disease, cancer and diabetes, among other health issues. Over the past five years, he has built an "A-Team" that shares his dedication to supporting Cedars-Sinai research and saving lives while ensuring the humane care of animals. David developed performance metrics, commitment standards, professional expectations and a more expansive career ladder to support his team’s professional growth and to improve performance. He has earned multiple commendations for improving results on the Employee Engagement Survey. He also has effectively managed numerous projects, including the commissioning of a state-of-the-art pre-clinical research facility on the ninth floor of the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion.

Simulation Education Program Coordinator, Medical Education

Ai Jin works closely with physician and nurse educators to provide high-caliber educational opportunities at the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills. More than 2,000 clinicians receive training at the simulation center each month, and Ai Jin collaborates daily with multiple educators to provide learning experiences that engage participants and develop their skills. She helps educators take full advantage of advanced simulation technology that replicates real-world clinical challenges. She also leads training at the bedside, running simulations to help improve teamwork and communication in areas such as Labor and Delivery and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Ai Jin volunteers every year as a nurse coordinator at Camp del Corazon, which gives children with heart disease a residential summer camp experience on Catalina Island.

Rudy Valdez, BSN
Quality Improvement Specialist, Medical Affairs/Peer Review

A former nurse manager on 6 North, Rudy brings valuable clinical expertise to his current role in Medical Affairs. He focuses on quality improvement in the care of patients in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, transplant and general surgery. He reviews and evaluates cases based on established criteria to determine whether appropriate care was delivered in accordance with medical staff rules and regulations, as well as medical center policies. When concerns arise, he quickly pulls together large amounts of data, gathering detailed information to help determine whether a case should go through the peer review process. He then facilitates the process for cases that require peer review. Rudy is known for his exceptional customer service and ability to deliver complex work products on short notice. He takes the initiative and goes above and beyond in researching and analyzing all aspects of a case, often uncovering critical details that are important to decisionmaking. He is dedicated to positive change that increases safety and quality of care.

Jovito Ybanez, PE
Project Manager, Facilities, Planning, Design and Construction

An engineer who has managed more than 300 projects to upgrade Cedars-Sinai’s mechanical and electrical infrastructure over the past 18 years, Jovito understands the inner workings of the medical center and ensures that systems related to power, water and air flow are running safely and efficiently. He coordinated a highly visible groundwater utilization project in collaboration with the Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District to process and reuse groundwater for industrial purposes. Repurposing water that has historically been pumped away saves the hospital $1,000 per day. Jovito also helped Cedars-Sinai become a leader in meeting rigorous state seismic upgrade requirements. He ensures every project’s success through effective management and coordination of consultants, contractors and medical center staff.