Open Accessibility Menu

Sign up for Live Healthy eNewsletter here.

MHSC nurse receives Florence Nightingale Award

  • Category: Awards & Recognitions
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial Public Information Officer
MHSC nurse receives Florence Nightingale Award

Nicole Halstead’s peers picked
her for the Excellence in Nursing Award

A woman who says she was a “late bloomer” to the nursing profession, has received the Florence Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing from her peers at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

This year, it went to Nicole Halstead, Sweetwater Memorial’s Dialysis Clinic Director.

Nationwide, the award is given in a variety of ways. At Sweetwater Memorial, the award winner is voted on by peers – the entire nursing staff. That group looks for someone who has gone above and beyond in their daily duties and service to patients.

“Nicole Halstead certainly exemplifies that,” said Kristy Nielson, MHSC Chief Nursing Officer. “Nicole is a true role model for our MHSC Mission, Vision and Values. I am so proud of her and the compassion she offers to her patients, her staff, and her peers. It is such a privilege to be working with Nicole, all of the nominees, and the entire MHSC Nursing Services staff.”

Halstead said she was “very honored and humbled” to receive the award. “I take great pride in the work my team and I have accomplished over the last two and half years with dialysis, the development of a peritoneal program, and the growth we have seen. I truly love my role as a nurse and being able to make a difference in so many lives within this community.”

She is among 14 nurses who were nominated. Those nurses include:

Kelsey Pearson: a nurse on the medical/surgical floor, nominated for her “intelligence, empathy and kindness.”

Sarah Corhn: Obstetrics, nominated for her “intelligence, diligence and caring.”

Joan Fowler: Med-Surg, nominated for her “compassion and dedication, and goes the extra mile for all patients.”

Jocelyn Palinek, FNP: Internal Medicine Office, nominated for “caring, determined and thoughtful.”

Del Kachnowski: Intensive Care Unit, nominated for her “excellence and advocacy, and for being a role model and teacher.”

Macayla Arrington: Emergency Department, nominated for her “compassion, skill and knowledge.”

Karen Vesco: Obstetrics, nominated for her “leadership, work as an educator, and empathy.”

Amelia Cuevas: Obstetrics, nominated for her “leadership, advocacy and knowledge.”

Kim White: Clinical Documentation Improvement/Incident Command Leader, nominated for her “leadership, strength and compassion.”

Ashleigh Swanson: Med-Sur /ICU, nominated for her “compassion, kindness and empathy.”

JoLynn Porter: Med-Surg, nominated for her “compassion, teamwork and hard work.”

Brooke Forster: SDS, nominated for her “compassion, patience and being a team player.”

Leanna Lovato: Education, was nominated for her “caring, reliability and trustworthiness.”

Halstead was nominated for her “compassion and determination, and for going above and beyond.”

She was a “late bloomer to the profession,” she said, not starting a career in the nursing field until 2008 in her 30s. She worked as a certified nursing assistant at what is now Sage View Care Center while she attended college. She received her Licensed Practical Nursing certificate a year later, working as an LPN until she completed her Associate’s Degree in May 2013. She began working as a registered nurse in the MHSC Dialysis Clinic in November 2013. She received a Bachelor’s Degree of Nursing in June 2015.

She stepped away from dialysis in 2016 for nine months to try out a case management position in the Emergency Room.

“I loved the challenge, and everything that I learned while there,” Halstead said. “But I decided that dialysis was my calling. When the Dialysis Clinic Director position opened in May 2017, I jumped on it.”

The patient census in the Dialysis Clinic has more than doubled since then. Last year, the clinic opened a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-certified Peritoneal Dialysis Department. To date, it has cared for a total of eight patients, with one receiving a kidney transplant.

“We consider this a huge success because our patient was able to continue to work while performing her care at home, on her terms, all while working toward transplant,” Halstead said. “The patient no longer needs peritoneal dialysis to survive.”

Halstead said there are many reasons she loves working in dialysis and with end-stage renal patients.

“I get the opportunity to work with the same patients every week, and they become a part of my extended family,” she said. “Our patients are amazing people, ranging in age from their 20s to their 90s, all with a story of survival that would inspire anyone.

“Their challenges are not easy, but many still work, raise families, travel and are productive members of our community. It’s inspiring what our department does to help them.”

Dialysis is a specialty of medicine with a lot of pathophysiology behind it, Halstead explained. It is a newer science that is continually making advances in medicine, allowing the population of patients to live longer with a greater quality of life.

“It is truly amazing how the human body can acclimate and survive with little to no renal function,” she said. “When you understand the lack of renal function a person is living with, you understand just how important the kidneys are to the rest of the body systems. The kidneys regulate so many components of the human body, and without proper function, it affects everything from cardiac function to the restricted diet our patients are required to follow.”

Her peers agreed, that she follows Florence Nightingale’s example. Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th- and 20th-century policies around proper medical care, according to She was known for her night rounds to aid the wounded, establishing her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.”

For more on the Dialysis Clinic and all that Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and its Specialty Clinics have to offer, go to