The Highly Reliable Hero award has been created to celebrate the Heroes around us. A person that goes out of his/her way to do extraordinary things for our patients, family members and fellow teammates.
This award is open to every Mountainside Medical Center team member, volunteer and physician that has made a positive impact on our patients’ lives or any of the lives around us.
A space has been dedicated in the Main Lobby to recognize our Heroes and their contributions. These heroes will be honored by displaying their photo, name, department, date of the event, and a QR Code where their story will be accessible. A pin will also be awarded to them to wear proudly.
The Highly Reliable Heroes are personifying teamwork, compassion and commitment to quality of care for our patients, families and coworkers.
Joaquin Vazquez, Maintenance
Joaquin Vazquez is a kind and hardworking team member who is always willing to go above and beyond. He joined Mountainside in 2005 and whether it be snow removal or being available for off hour repairs and emergencies, he has always a positive attitude and is ready to work. Joaquin has been a critical part of the COVID-19 safety measures implementation, helping develop negative pressure room conversion and the Plexiglas installation throughout the facility, while also working additional nights and weekends to complete these tasks.
In early January, a fellow team member in the shop was choking on a pear. Joaquin saw that his colleague could not breathe and sprang into action. He acted quickly and performing the Heimlich maneuver, he successfully cleared the blockage. He maintained his composure, stayed focused and demonstrated courage in this challenging situation.
"Joaquin is always so alert […] he saved our colleague’s life," explains Sam Argenio from Maintenance. "He is a hero in my eyes."
Cathy Eldridge, Patient Satisfaction Coordinator
Cathy was nominated by a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at Mountainside Medical Center who was experiencing a hardship when her loved one was in a coma. She and her husband have both been patients of Mountainside, and everytime they return to the hospital Cathy makes every effort to provide them with guidance and support, often going above and beyond to assist in anyway possible.
When asked about Cathy, she says “You don't realize how much you need help, until it is offered. […] Mountainside Hospital is lucky to have you, and so are all of us who have come to appreciate you during the most difficult of times. You are unique!”
Patricia “Trish” Delgrosso, Director of Surgical Services
Safe quality patient care is at the very heart of all that Trish does, which is evidenced by the countless hours she works to ensure that patients, physicians and team members have exactly what they need for their visit and work day. Team members can always count on Trish to be there to providing word, a laugh, or a snack to keep the motivation going through the work day. A true mentor and leader, Trish leads by example, handling challenging situations head on with positivity, decorum and without hesitation.
Recently, a “code blue” was called overhead to the loading dock, an unusual area for an emergency to take place. Hoping the call was in error, Trish rapidly responded and arrived to see a fellow team mate in dire need of emergency medical attention. First on the scene, Trish provided CPR until the rest of the code team arrived. It was her quick actions, critical thinking and expert emergency care that truly saved this team member’s life.
Today, he is alive and well, stating, “I am living proof of Trish’s knowledge and quick response to my personal emergency. Timing is everything, and in my case, it made the difference between life and death. I, as well as my wife and family, will be forever grateful for my second chance.”
Coming together to help save lives
A multidisciplinary team of professionals worked together seamlessly, compassionately, and diligently on Tuesday November 13, 2018 to help save the life of an infant born in our facility at 25 weeks gestation weighing in at only 1 pound and 15 ounces. This team includes clinical and non-clinical staff: doctors, nurses, certified surgical technologists, respiratory therapists, radiology techs, unit secretaries and housekeeping.
Read the nomination here.
Dr. Everett Schlam, MD, FAAFP, Assistant Director of Family Medicine Residency Program
In practice for over 30 years, Dr. Everett Schlam exemplifies the hallmarks of family medicine: First contact, person focused, comprehensive, and coordinated care. Known to patients and colleagues alike as the "sweetest, most humble and hard-working individual." He always advocates for his patients and his colleagues, providing a steady hand, guidance and wisdom. He mixes evidence- based medicine with warmth and has an innate ability to break down complex concepts.
His patience and kindness make him easily approachable. He is a tremendous role model for all the Mountainside team in clinical and non-clinical areas. Dr. Schlam is by the side of his patients when they need him most and embraces the multidisciplinary approach to medicine to achieve optimum patient centered outcomes. Late nights, early mornings, and weekends he avails himself to patients and colleagues alike.
Every year, Dr. Schlam spreads cheer to Mountainside Medical Center inpatients when he recruits resident physicians and conducts “Santa rounds” during the holidays. In fact, when you least expect it, Dr. Schlam has been known to present you with a stuffed teddy bear to brighten your day.
Dr. Schlam goes the extra mile, quite literally, he is an avid walker. Patients and colleagues will join Dr. Schlam, with iced coffee in hand, for walking consultations and educational discussions. Recently, during a meeting in our office, a colleague began to choke and was turning blue. Usually quiet and unassuming, Dr. Schlam sprang into action, wrapped his arms around his colleague and performed abdominal thrusts until the object cleared. “He was faster than a cheetah, he’s a legend, and he saved my life. I will always be grateful!”
Nancy Ellen Lands, R.N., Inpatient Behavioral Health
A nurse for 15 years in this institution she is always able to find ways to show compassion. It’s not always an easy task but she is able to recognize that every patient is special. Patients are at the most vulnerable times of their lives when they are in our care. Nancy Ellen is able to assure them that they are not alone and that although they may be facing a difficult journey, she will be by their side.
One example of her caring attitude and heroic behavior was exhibited when a patient was being discharged to a homeless shelter. Upon learning she was going to be discharged, the patient became extremely agitated, but Nancy took the time to hear her concerns – she was without a coat, and with the winter upon us, the patient did not have anything to keep her warm through the cold months. Nancy Ellen immediately retrieved a coat and gloves for the patient, who was thankful for Nancy Ellen’s kindness.
“This behavior is not unique to this one occasion,” a colleague explains. “Nancy Ellen always has a locker full of new clothing of all sizes for male and female patients. Any patient in need receives a few outfits from her locker without even requesting them.”
Alessandra Sanchez, Beata Kulikowski, Betty Strauss, Beverlyann Collins, Bill Donnelly, Cathe Yulian, Central Scheduling, Corina Schult, Cristina Martinez, Daniel Buchman, Dental Dept., Detra Simpson, Family Practice, Florey Cruz-Cerpa, Gina Pecora, Internal Medicine, Jennifer Lopez, Jill Ryan, Joan Bowman, Jonathan Roman, Julia Illyin, Karen Bade, Lanie Peace, Larry Palanza, Leah Mendoza, Lee Touw, Lorraine Castelli, Mary Wiggins, Max Siu, Nancy Sweester, Neil Assad, Petulia Pierre, Pharmacy Dept., Registration Dept., Sherry Diana
In December 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the Mountainside Vaccine Clinic was established to assist with vaccinating team members and medical staff against COVID-19.
As the need for vaccinations grew in our community, the clinic was able to partner with various community groups including local health departments and faith organizations, the YMCA of Montclair and the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, among others.
The Vaccine Clinic team has made a difference in our community which is evident by high vaccination rates among our team members, low COVID-19 volumes in the hospital, and the vaccination rates of Essex County as a whole.
Before closing its doors to the community in January 2022, to date, the vaccine clinic team has administered 12,400 vaccines and continues to service team members and medical staff.