HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH’S CHIEF NURSE EXECUTIVE GUIDES A STAFF TASKED WITH SOME OF THE MOST CHALLENGING YET REWARDING RESPONSIBILITIES IN HEALTHCARE

BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS © AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY

In March, when Hackensack Meridian Health’s Hackensack University Medical Center once again received Magnet recognition by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the hospital became the first in the state and the second in the country to earn this designation six times.

The Magnet title, the highest national honor for nursing excellence, distinguishes organizations that meet arduous standards. While just 492 of the more than 6,000 U.S. healthcare organizations have received the credential, six other hospitals within the Hackensack Meridian Health system boast the designation: Bayshore Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Raritan Bay Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, and Southern Ocean Medical Center.

It’s an achievement that Hackensack Meridian leaders say speaks for itself.

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“Magnet designation is the highest and most prestigious credential that a healthcare organization can attain for nursing excellence,” noted Theresa M. Brodrick, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Hackensack Meridian Health. “We have many hospitals across our network which have that recognition, and I think that highlights the quality patient care we are providing.”

The designation also conveys more than simply prestige, Brodrick added. “The Magnet title provides internal benefits, like higher patient satisfaction and better patient outcomes. Nurses play such a vital role in patient care they are the primary advocates for all patients and truly manage their care. To have such an amazing team of nurses here who are continually recognized for their work is truly inspiring.”

Brodrick, who grew up in South Jersey, received her nursing degree from the University of Delaware before starting her career at Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Gardian Spread

“I worked in just about all of the clinical areas oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, trauma, and emergency services because I felt that in order to be a strong chief nurse, you needed to be experienced in every facet of medicine,” Brodrick said. “I felt I could be a better voice for the staff if I learned each area well, and every specialty taught me important lessons. In emergency, you run on adrenaline. Cardiac allows you to nurse the very sick back to a full recovery, and oncology, well…that’s the most sacred space a nurse gets to experience. When another human being is so ill and vulnerable, you really learn a lot about yourself and what it means to hold the title of caregiver.”

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Brodrick started in management three years into her career, spending time in several South Jersey and Philadelphia hospitals before being recruited to North Carolina by Cone Health System. Five years later, she was recruited once again, this time to work for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, where she was in charge of nursing across 21 hospitals. She returned home to the East Coast earlier this year to take on her new role with Hackensack Meridian Health, a position she assumed on April 1.

“It’s wonderful to be home,” she said of the transition. In her new role, Brodrick is responsible for all nursing practices across the Hackensack Meridian Health network. That includes establishing nursing policies, overseeing the direction of nursing services, handling nurse education, and monitoring patient safety.

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“Hackensack Meridian is the ultimate powerhouse of nursing,” Brodrick said. “This staff is the best and the brightest, and I feel incredibly honored to lead them.”

Brodrick is currently working closely with the network to establish a single standard of care.
“This network is relatively new the merger only took place a few years ago so we’re working on establishing one standard of nursing across all of our hospitals and outpatient centers,” she explained. “Our nurses drive the patient experience, and we want that experience to be the same across the board.”

As innovations like electronic medical records help to make nurses’ more mundane tasks a little easier, Brodrick said her staff can remain focused on fostering patient relationships.
“We are sensitive about technology not getting in the way of that relationship,” she said. “The ability to input this data at the bedside and then access it throughout the entire system is a wonderful thing, but it cannot replace the personalized connection a nurse shares with her patients.”

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“There’s a lot of discussion about where healthcare will be in five years,” Brodrick concluded. “As more care begins to take place in the home and in ambulatory settings, the industry is contemplating the nurse’s role. But I say, who better to make the transition than nurses? Our focus is always on the patient. Whether we’re treating in or out of a hospital setting, that focus will never change.”

Hackensack Meridian Health
844.464.9355 / hackensackmeridianhealth.org