Susan Knoepffler, chief nursing officer (CNO) and vice president of Nursing at Huntington Hospital, first started at Northwell Health as a new graduate registered nurse in the Neonatal ICU at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). She gained nursing experience at NSUH and beyond before returning to Northwell in 2008 as the patient care services director at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. From there, her career continued to grow and in 2011, Susan was appointed the CNO at Huntington Hospital.
“As I reflect back, I appreciate what an amazing and deeply rewarding journey my career has been,” says Susan. “My passion for patient care and desire to influence through leadership has led me to where I am today.”
Today, Susan uses the experience she has gained to lead the registered nurses at Huntington Hospital. Read more in our CNO Corner interview with Susan.
What exciting nursing initiatives are planned for 2021 at Huntington Hospital?
At Huntington Hospital, we are continuing the Magnet® journey as we prepare for our fifth designation. Currently, our documents are in final review with an anticipated site visit in the fall. We are incredibly proud of our four consecutive designations. This would not be possible without the visionary leaders, excellent outcomes and collaboration across all hospital disciplines. In our mission to promote and improve the health of individuals, families and communities, there will be a continued emphasis made on nursing research.
How does Huntington Hospital support their team in growth and development?
Nurses represent the frontline of healthcare. We strongly encourage and support personal and professional development, job satisfaction and retention. One example is our nurse mentorship program, established to support growth for new nurses in the hospital and nurses transitioning into a new role. The success of this program at Huntington Hospital is evident by the increase in certifications and advances into leadership positions, as well as newly formed, lasting relationships. This program also served as a foundation for the Northwell Health system-wide nurse leader mentor program.
How has nursing evolved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and as we support our nurses and team members throughout the COVID-19 recovery?
2020 was a year like none other. The pandemic hit Huntington Hospital in March of 2020 and oddly enough (or not so oddly) the World Health Organization had proclaimed 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, honoring the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Little did we know that we would face an unprecedented crisis.
As healthcare workers we learn about preparing for disasters such as hurricanes and mass causality events, but we never prepared for an event like this. This pandemic struck with speed and an incredibly high acuity. Our nurses arrived to work with the fear of becoming sick and the fear that they would bring it home and make loved ones sick.
It became a time of rapid evolution that lasted for weeks as the volume of COVID positive patients climbed at an alarming rate. Although they did not want to be referred to as heroes, our nurses responded in a way that was “truly heroic.” They fought this pandemic with courage, compassion, creativity and resilience.
For all involved, the pandemic forced us to face the challenging situations and impacted us in countless ways. Some of which we may have yet to be recognized. It made us feel softer but stronger, cynical but more sincere, discouraged but hopeful, saddened but joyful, uncertain but wiser and alone but together. The importance is we stayed true to Northwell’s values: Truly Compassionate, Truly Innovative, Truly Ambitious, Truly Together and Truly Ourselves.
What makes working at Huntington Hospital so unique?
We are a hospital that provides comprehensive medical care in a community setting yet supported by the well-established Northwell Health system. There is an incredible sense of pride among all caregivers. The classic matrix model is evident in the integration and collaboration across the organization. The caregivers at Huntington Hospital truly embrace our mission: to improve the health and quality of life for the people and communities we serve by providing world-class service and patient-centered care.
What advice do you have for nurses either starting their careers or looking to continue to grow?
Follow your heart, seize the next opportunity, and stay open to trying something new. Stop to enjoy the small precious moments when you know that you “made a difference” for a patient or their family member. If you are interested in further development, seek out a mentor. That relationship provides a guiding light for your journey ahead.