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Vail Health Nurses Honored as Recipients of Nightingale Award

Sally Welsh

Dembeck and Clous receive state-wide Nightingale Luminaries honors; Willoughby and Wodrich honored in Western Colorado region and as state finalists

Two Vail Health nurses were recognized as Colorado Nightingale Nurse of the Year Award winners on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Sara Dembeck, MSN RN NE-BC and Associate Chief Nursing Officer, was awarded the Nightingale Award for Exceptional Achievement in Nursing Administration by a Nurse Executive, and Karen Clous, RN and Oncology Quality Specialist, earned the Nightingale Award for Exceptional Achievement in Quality Improvement. 
There were 15 Colorado nurses honored with the state-wide award from a group of 78 regional finalists. The Western Slope regional awards in early May honored 42 nominees from across the Western Slope. Four Vail Health nurses won the Western Colorado regional award and then became finalists for this state-wide award. In addition to Dembeck and Clous, Jennifer Willoughby was recognized as the Western Slope winner in Nursing Education Academia and Liz Wodrich was awarded the Western Slope recognition for Nursing Education in Professional Development. 
“Congratulations to Jennifer and Liz on winning at the regional level and for being finalists for the prestigious Colorado Nightingale Luminary Award, and to Sara and Karen for winning the state-wide award,” said Will Cook, Vail Health President and CEO. “Our nurses are truly the backbone of our organization and culture, and it is an honor as an organization to have four of our high-qualified nurses recognized for their exceptional contributions.” 
"I am honored to have been recognized among such dedicated and compassionate nursing professionals across our state,” said Dembeck. “This award is indicative of the outstanding culture and support Vail Health provides to nurses across our organization."
“I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition and to stand alongside so many amazing nurses,” said Clous. “I couldn’t have done it without our amazing team and the support of leadership. I am so grateful and fortunate to work for Vail Health and Shaw Cancer Center.” 

Vail Health Western Colorado Nightingale Luminary Awards Finalists: 
  • Nursing Administration Executive: Sara Dembeck, Vail Health – State winner!
  • Nursing Quality Improvement: Karen Clous, Shaw Cancer Center, Edwards – State winner!
  • Nursing Education Academia: Jennifer Willoughby, Vail Health
  • Nursing Education in Professional Development: Liz Wodrich, Vail Health Hospital