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Michele Santoro, a registered nurse at the Yale New Haven Hospital Heart and Vascular Center in North Haven, sees herself like any other nurse.

But ask any of the 11,500 people who cheered Santoro when she was honored with a Magnet Nurse of the Year Award at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, and they’ll say they see her as much more.

Santoro is an inspiration, a role model, and a hero who has saved thousands of lives, including many people she will never meet. And for her innovation and passion for saving lives, Daily Nurse is proud to honor Santoro as our Nurse of the Week.

Santoro identified a dangerous issue that disconnected thousands of cardiac patients worldwide from an external monitoring device platform after a vendor performed a software update. She reconnected them, an act of smart, compassionate nursing that reached far beyond Connecticut and likely saved countless lives.

She also developed a cardiac monitoring database that found potentially life-threatening arrhythmia in 47 percent of enrolled patients. In 45 percent of those patients, medical and surgical treatments were needed.

Santoro also identified a gap in the follow-up for patients with remote cardiac monitoring devices, then collaborated with others on her interprofessional team and vendors to implement a new, multi-faceted monitoring, scheduling, and tracking system.

As if those efforts weren’t enough, she pioneered a new process to prepare patients’ skin for surgical procedures.

“I see patients every day who have these skin tears,” Santoro says. So she thought about it for a while and devised a new way to prepare their skin: “I’ve never had another patient with a skin tear since we changed it.”

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Santoro is working with two other nurses on another “nurse-driven” innovation: an implantable loop recorder that doctors can put inside a patient’s chest to record what their heart is doing over time.

The magnitude of being honored with the Magnet Nurse of the Year Award resonates with Santoro. She says this is like the Emmy Award for nursing.

Last October, she was honored for her exemplary professional practice at the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s National Magnet Conference. In addition, she was honored for innovations that have improved outcomes for cardiac patients around the world.

Since then, she’s received plenty of support and accolades from her colleagues at Yale New Haven, where she had been honored as Yale New Haven’s Magnet Nurse of the Year.

As a result, she’s got the attention of Yale New Haven Hospital’s top nurse.

“We are so proud of Michele earning this incredibly prestigious and well-deserved award,” says Ena Williams, Yale New Haven’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer. 

“Her unwavering commitment to patients has inspired her to conduct research and pioneer changes in nursing practice that are transforming patient care at Yale New Haven Hospital and beyond,” says Williams. “Michele’s award demonstrates the organization’s commitment to maintaining a professional practice environment that fosters nurse-led improvements, based on evidence, that support the delivery of high quality, individualized care for our patients.”

Nominate a Nurse of the Week! Every Wednesday, DailyNurse.com features a nurse making a difference in the lives of their patients, students, and colleagues. We encourage you to nominate a nurse who has impacted your life as the next Nurse of the Week, and we’ll feature them online and in our weekly newsletter.

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