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18 Employees Honored With President's Award

Presidents Award Logo

Sandra Davis
Special Service Deluxe Hostess
Food and Nutrition Services

Sandra has been part of the Cedars-Sinai family for three decades. Her role includes cooking as well as delivering meals for patients. She contributes to patient satisfaction in many ways. She makes sure meal orders are filled correctly and special dietary needs are met—and always greets patients with a smile. She even anticipates patients’ food preferences based on orders from previous hospital stays. Sandra has received numerous commendations from supervisors and patients for the excellent service she provides, and for her willingness to lend a hand without hesitation. She steps up to assist during short-staffing periods and changes her days off, if necessary, to help meet patients’ needs.

Giuliano Lepe
Operations Supervisor
Environmental Services/Hospitality

Patient safety and satisfaction are always at the top of Giuliano’s mind as he oversees the process of cleaning patient rooms quickly and efficiently as soon as a transfer or discharge occurs. He manages a team of 70 employees that plays a key role in ensuring smooth operations throughout the medical center. Giuliano has significantly reduced the turnaround time for cleaning a room upon discharge so that it is ready for the next patient. He has received commendations for collaborating with nurses and for being compassionate and caring with his staff. He implemented a major change that led to higher employee satisfaction as well as greater efficiency—his team now works a 10-hour shift four days a week rather than the usual eight hours a day. This provides better staff coverage throughout the day to improve turnaround time for patient rooms. Giuliano has also improved the quality assurance program for his department, and he makes sure employees receive training to resolve any issues that come up during room inspections.

Ryan Morales
Security Officer

For nearly 16 years, Ryan has been a valuable part of the security team that ensures the safety of patients, visitors and staff at Cedars-Sinai. As he works the evening shift on the 5 Southwest Safety Quad, he demonstrates an extraordinary ability to calm patients and prevent problems from escalating. Ryan is always ready to assist nurses and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. His dedication to supporting staff has earned him numerous commendations, including a Friends of Nursing Award in 2018. Ryan builds a strong rapport with patients and earns their trust by being attentive to their needs and listening to their concerns. He helps boost their morale in small but significant ways such as bringing them snacks and sharing their requests with the appropriate staff member.


Mildred Horning, MSN, RN-BC
Clinical Nurse III
GI-Pancreatic Biliary

A strong patient advocate and leader, Milly coordinates care in a unit where advanced endoscopic procedures are used to diagnose and treat patients with pancreatic- and gallbladder-related diseases. She educates patients and families about chronic health conditions and treatment plans and follows up after procedures to prevent complications and readmissions to the hospital. She also makes sure they have the medications they need and obtains insurance authorizations prior to procedures. Milly, who completed her master’s degree in nursing in 2017, has taken the lead in optimizing the use of CS-Link™ to improve workflows, efficiency, quality of care and patient satisfaction in her unit. She constantly looks for ways to improve service to patients, referring physicians and the community. Milly is fluent in Spanish and has helped Cedars-Sinai bring free health services to the underserved Latino community by volunteering at the annual Telemundo health fair at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Owen Kim, MPA
Program Manager
Department of Medicine

After working as senior administrative services associate at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute for eight years, Owen took on a new role last October as program manager in the Department of Medicine. He was a valuable resource for staff and faculty at the cancer institute, where he coordinated special projects and events such as faculty retreats, conferences and the annual Cancer Survivors Day Luncheon. And now he is making himself indispensable to new faculty members as he assists with all aspects of the academic appointment process. Once Owen has helped them through the onboarding period, he continues to serve as their point person when they have questions or need assistance with business matters such as hospital privileges, contracts and license renewals. In 2017, Owen earned a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in organizational management from the University of Southern California.

Yesenia Santana
Patient Service Representative,
Comprehensive Transplant Center

Yesenia is a lead patient service representative who supports four cardiologists, eight nurse practitioners and other team members in the Heart Failure Program. She also provides back-up support for seven other cardiologists while helping patients and families navigate the health system. She schedules appointments, processes new patient referrals and works with insurance companies to obtain authorization for health services. Yesenia is bilingual and offers special assistance to Spanish-speaking patients to bridge the language barrier and make sure their needs are met. A CS-Link superuser, she is always ready to share her expertise with others. She volunteers to assist at special community events such as the annual picnic and holiday party where transplant patients come back to celebrate their progress with the Heart Failure Program team.


Emily Burnett, MSN, RN, CWOCN
Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse
Nursing/Wound Ostomy

Emily has received numerous commendations for bringing an exceptional level of compassion and skill to the care of patients with complex wounds and/or ostomies. She runs the outpatient ostomy clinic and cares for these patients before as well as after surgery. She also trains other nurses in wound and ostomy care and educates staff throughout the medical center on how to prevent hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Emily has helped design protocols to ensure that patients with pressure ulcers receive prompt attention and specialized services such as dietary consultations. She routinely stays beyond her normal shift to care for patients who have been newly diagnosed with a pressure ulcer or ostomy, or need wound treatment. She was instrumental in bringing greater accuracy and efficiency to the process of collecting data to track the incidence of hospital- and community-acquired pressure ulcers.

Laura Daniels, MSN, RN-BC, PCCN
Assistant Nurse Manager
6 Northwest

During her more than 36 years as a nurse at Cedars-Sinai, Laura has become a powerful advocate for patients. In her current leadership role, she leads Progression of Care Rounds every weekday on 6 Northwest and makes frequent recommendations to improve safety and outcomes. She implemented the STAR Foley Catheter Project in her unit to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and she helps her team ensure that patients are discharged in a timely and safe manner. Laura has received
numerous commendations from patients and staff. Two years ago, she was selected to represent Cedars-Sinai at a National Magnet Conference in Houston, TX, where she talked about how the Together We Can leadership initiative that she helped implement resulted in some of the highest employee engagement scores organization-wide.

Eileen Dulce, BSN, CCRN
Clinical Nurse III
Crisis Nursing/Nursing Resources

Known for keeping a cool head in a crisis, Eileen is a critical care nurse who responds to emergency situations throughout the medical center as part of the Rapid Response Team. She also handles transfers when patients who need a high level of care arrive at Cedars-Sinai from other hospitals, and she transports critically ill patients from the intensive care unit to other parts of the medical center for tests and procedures. Eileen has received numerous commendations for the way she supports nurses in the aftermath of critical incidents. She teaches recent nursing graduates, new employees and others how to handle crisis situations and when to call the Rapid Response Team. She created a “badge buddy” for nurses to make key phone numbers needed in a crisis readily available. In her role as a Unit Practice Council co-chair, Eileen strives to streamline processes, and she’s a go-to person for information on policies and procedures related to the Rapid Response Team.

Heidi Ravago
Nursing Communication Technician
5 Southeast/Medical, Surgical and Rehabilitation Nursing Services

For the past decade, Heidi has been a vital part of the team on 5 Southeast in a role that involves a wide range of tasks focused on supporting the staff and making sure patients are safe and comfortable. She responds when patients call for assistance or a bed alarm goes off, helping however she can while alerting nurses as needed. She also orders and maintains supplies, serves as an information resource for staff and does whatever it takes to keep the unit running smoothly. She has helped improve the patient experience through her involvement in a pilot project that gives patients access to an Alexa device in their rooms. Heidi teaches patients how to communicate with nurses and control their TV with voice commands. She also teaches them how to use iPads to access information in their electronic health record.

Sandie Sternberg, CCLS
Coordinator, Child Life Services

Part of the Cedars-Sinai family for more than 17 years, Sandie brings high doses of empathy and playfulness to her role as a certified child life specialist. She provides emotional support and teaches strategies to help children and their families cope with illness. She visits children of all ages throughout the medical center and has received commendations from many different units that have seen how she lifts spirits, calms fears and helps young patients from toddlers to teens stay involved in normal activities as much as possible. Sandie facilitates a monthly dinner that brings parents together to share experiences and support each other while their children are in the hospital. Her professional activities include giving a presentation on how to talk to children about death and dying for an international teleconference, as well as monthly talks for students and staff on the uses of therapeutic distraction for pain management. Sandie is a dedicated community volunteer who supports military service members and first responders through Operation Gratitude. She is a member of the County of Los Angeles Community Emergency Response Team and also is part of a national network of specially trained child life disaster relief volunteers who provide care for children impacted by disaster.


Judy Kim
Project Manager, Revenue Cycle Strategy and Analytics
Physician Billing Services/Cedars-Sinai Medical Network

With her stellar project management and problem-solving skills, Judy gets impressive results every time she sets out to find the root cause and resolution of an issue for Physician Billing Services. She has initiated projects such as improving the efficiency of organization cash flow by converting insurance payments from paper checks to electronic payments. She also led a successful project that identified cases where a major insurance payor paid less than the contracted rate for professional services. With her strong interpersonal skills, she successfully engaged the payor to rectify the issue on their end, saving her department thousands of manpower hours, while at the same time recovering $1.8 million in underpayments. Among Judy’s current projects is one that entails improving the process of claim submission, resulting in less insurance denials and more continuous and timely revenue. Judy has a passion for teamwork and is always ready to assist others as she collaborates to develop solutions that save time and money.

Ashley Manfredonia
Operations Manager
Practice Care Transformation, Primary Care/Cedars-Sinai Medical Care Foundation

With her strong leadership skills, commitment to collaboration and exceptional problem-solving abilities, Ashley was quickly identified as a rising star after she became a supervisor in the fast-paced OB-GYN practice in 2015. Six months later, she was promoted to her current role as operations manager to oversee daily operations for a large internal medicine practice that includes about 40 physicians and 120 staff members. Ashley has successfully led her team through multiple phases of a complex primary care practice transformation process. She has been instrumental in changes such as establishing a centralized call team to better serve patients and adding a gastroenterology procedure scheduler to the team to encourage preventive screenings. She also led the creation of a yearlong onboarding program to train and support new employees, a leadership structure that provides opportunities for advancement and a program called Reach for the Stars that provides education for staff members interested in professional development.


Shira Berman
Research Project Advisor
Office of Academic Affairs and Research Institute

With her extraordinary writing and teaching skills, Shira contributes immeasurably to research success at Cedars-Sinai in a multifaceted role that supports the process of applying for grants and publishing academic papers. She helps researchers in the Pituitary Center develop grant proposals and academic papers as well as conference presentations. Over the past two years, Shira has written successful proposals for seven competitive grants that brought in $5 million to Cedars-Sinai’s research enterprise. She also was administrative lead in producing 32 significant peer-reviewed articles, consensus statements and editorials published in the highest impact peer-reviewed journals. In her teaching role, she is co-facilitator of a grant writing program sponsored by Academic Affairs to assist junior faculty in submitting their first National Institutes of Health grant proposals. She also leads a class on scientific writing for fellows and residents.

Debra Lynch, Esq.
Assistant Manager, Clinical Trials Administration Office
Office of Research Administration

A lawyer who specializes in healthcare and research, Debra plays a vital role in research at Cedars-Sinai by negotiating complex agreements with industry sponsors of clinical trials such as drug or device companies. She focuses primarily on clinical trials conducted by Smidt Heart Institute researchers, but also negotiates contracts with large industry sponsors that support research across multiple disciplines at Cedars-Sinai. Her top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of patients who participate in clinical trials. She also looks out for Cedars-Sinai’s intellectual property rights and makes sure contracts with industry sponsors allow study results to be widely publicized to benefit the public. Debra recently updated contracting guidelines for industry-sponsored research, providing a valuable resource for her entire department.

Theodore Rafdal
Senior Financial Analyst

A member of the Cedars-Sinai family for more than three decades, Ted has a wealth of technical and operational knowledge that makes him an invaluable asset to managers and others in the Admissions Department. He received his unit’s 2018 Employee of the Year award and has been recognized over the years for his dedication to making the admissions process more efficient and easier for patients. Ted began his Cedars-Sinai career at the Hospitality Desk and also served as Patient Placement supervisor and Admissions Department analyst before being promoted to his current role in 2008. He regularly assists the admissions team in developing ways to improve workflows, and he helps them communicate CS-Link-related requests to Enterprise Information Services. He has also been instrumental in testing and implementation of patient photo cameras, e-signature pads and tablets used to register patients at the bedside.

Benjamin Robbins
Lead Systems Engineer
Enterprise Information Services

With extensive expertise in infrastructure services and a fearless attitude toward emerging technologies, Ben has played a vital role in supporting clinical and business operations with innovative technical solutions. Ben is often called upon to lead large, multiteam, multidisciplinary projects. His many contributions include making it easier for employees to securely access resources such as email and shared files remotely. He was also instrumental in enabling physicians to submit e-prescriptions for controlled substances. In addition, he led the technical implementation of a clinical speech recognition
service that makes it possible for providers to dictate medical notes through a system that translates their voice into text and feeds directly into CS-Link.

Sagar Sable, MPA/HSA, CPPS
Patient Safety Manager
Medical Affairs

Sagar works closely with executive leadership to help maintain the highest level of patient safety and quality care at Cedars-Sinai. He proactively improves processes to prevent problems, and when a safety issue arises, he moves quickly to identify the cause and determine what corrective action is needed. He also fosters a culture of safety that encourages employees to raise concerns and contribute ideas on how to continually raise the bar for safe care. Sagar co-created a safety course for front-line leaders that
provides tools to help them take the appropriate steps immediately after a safety incident, perform root cause analysis and make sure improvements are sustained over time. Sagar has a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on health services administration and recently went through training to become a Certified Professional in Patient Safety.