RVNA's Santoro garners Award for Excellence

RVNAhealth President and CEO Theresa Santoro has been awarded the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

RVNAhealth President and CEO Theresa Santoro has been awarded the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

Courtesy of RVNAhealth

RVNAhealth has announced its president and CEO, Theresa Santoro, has been awarded the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership.

The award, presented Nov. 6 by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home, recognizes a nursing leader who serves as a visionary role model, inspires others through development and life-long learning, incorporates technology into the practice of nursing and patient education; and consistently displays strong communication and collaboration.

Santoro was nominated by her RVNAhealth team.

RVNAhealth is in the final stages of merging with New Milford Visiting Nurse & Hospice, as well as Bethel VNA.

Tracy Wodatch, president and CEO of CAHCH, and Kim Hriceniak, daughter of the award namesake, Judith Hriceniak, presented the award, sharing elements and excerpts from the nomination, which highlighted Santoro’s vision and energy, especially in a year such as 2020.

Santoro’s has guided the RVNAhealth team through the unknowns of a global pandemic with its mission as a guiding principle; led RVNAhealth to an agency merger; and, for the eighth time since 2011, steered RVNAhealth to a Top Workplaces Award by Hearst Media, a recognition earned through employee surveys.

“Nurses are inherent leaders from the bedside, facilitating, providing, and promoting best practices and care for their patients,” said RVNAhealth Chief Clinical Officer Keri Linardi. “This clinical leadership often translates into excellence in nursing leadership as evidenced by mentoring, scholarship, commitment to excellent care, and the ability to respond to challenges with innovation.”

“RVNAhealth and I are fortunate to have someone who embodies true Excellence in Nursing Leadership at the helm for us all,” Linardi said. “Theresa is a powerhouse with innovative ideas and tenacity in getting things done. Since joining Theresa’s team, I have had the privilege of working closely with her and having her as my mentor. She leads with integrity and a dedication to excellence in all she does.”

While the 2020 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership was officially presented to Santoro at the virtual CAHCH annual convention, the actual award was presented over a week prior, at RVNAhealth — by surprise.

With video camera and award in hand, Wodatch, CAHCH President and CEO, and colleague Courtney Verissimo, travelled to Ridgefield to surprise Santoro and a roomful of close colleagues, friends and supporters.

“It was great,” said Wodatch. “We mapped our course, traversed the state, and left joy and pride in our wake.”

“Our annual awards are very meaningful to us and to the recipients, so it was important to us to present them with the distinction they deserve,” she said.

Wodatch and Verissimo distributed all the annual CAHCH awards in this manner.

“It took a moment to understand what was happening,” Santoro said of the experience. “I expected a simple meeting room walk-through with our Board Chair Eileen Walker, not friends and flowers.”

“I am truly and deeply grateful for the award,” Santoro said. “As we all know, the success of any journey does not rest on the shoulders of any one individual. Everything takes a team. It takes the work of a dedicated group of people with a solid goal in mind, and in my 21 years at RVNAhealth, we have had an amazing team to get us where we are today.”

Santoro also won the Judith Hriceniak Award in 2009, almost a decade after joining RVNAhealth as a per diem nurse, and a year after assuming the role of president and CEO.