Pardee UNC Health Care nurse Debbie Austin, RN, CCRN, CPAN, has been named PeriAnesthesia Nurse of the Year by the North Carolina Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (NCAPAN). This award recognizes a nurse who demonstrates excellence in the practice, management and teaching of PeriAnesthesia nursing, and promotes high standards in the profession. Austin is a charge nurse in the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where she treats patients recovering from anesthesia. She also serves as a faculty instructor for advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS), pediatric advanced life support (PALS) and basic cardiac life support (BLS) certification training.
For more than a year, Austin has spearheaded a pilot program for the safe disposal of narcotic medications given to patients for post-operative pain. The program uses education regarding safe storage and disposal, as well as Deterra bags, which allow patients to safely dispose of unused narcotics at home after a surgical procedure. Not only did Austin obtain funding from the Pardee Hospital Foundation for the first 200 packs of Deterra, she also educated the Day Surgery nursing staff on the need for these bags and worked closely with Pardee administration, Hope Rx and the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office to make the pilot program successful.
“Debbie has always had a heart for serving others and our community, whether she is feeding and clothing the homeless, sponsoring a food drive, or volunteering at church,” said Jennifer White, RN, MSN, a colleague of Austin’s who nominated her for the award. “By confronting the drug epidemic head on and gaining hospital support, Debbie is making a lasting impact on the prescription narcotics problem in our community. She is most deserving of this award.”
“Congratulations to Debbie on this well-deserved award,” said David Ellis, M.D., FACOG, chief medical officer at Pardee. “She is a leader in educating both patients and medical providers on the safe storage and disposal of narcotics. Her work is making a difference in our community and we are so proud to have her on the Pardee team.”
“I am very proud of nurses who show such a commitment to advancing the health of the people in our communities,” said Denise Lucas, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, vice president of clinical services and chief nursing officer at Pardee. “Debbie’s work is making a difference with many families and our county is blessed to have her. She truly cares.”