One hundred forty-two nurses and other medical staff who serve Blue Mountain Health System's Gnaden Huetten and Palmerton campuses were recently honored for their dedication to each patient that enters the hospitals.

During the eighth annual Blue Mountain Health System Employee Recognition Awards ceremonies, held May 10 at both campuses, administration honored the men and women with years of service awards; nursing excellence awards; ancillary, business and support staff awards; and the highest award, the Blue Ribbon Service Excellence Awards.

Drew Harris, president and CEO of Blue Mountain Health System, welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the people who made this day possible.

"Over the past three years, when the economy was shifting and workforces have been reducing, we have been increasing," Harris said, noting that Blue Mountain Health System employs 1,100 and is now Carbon County's top employer.

He added that his goal is to eventually employ 2,000 people.

"Thank you for the incredible jobs you do," he said. "It's an honor to work with you."

He then welcomed Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein and Thomas J. Gerhard, who presented proclamations honoring National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week.

The pair thanked the staff for everything they do for the community and for the patients they serve.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley, also presented the hospitals with three House proclamations one for the hospitals, one for the nurses, and one for The Summit nursing home.

Harris then turned over the assembly to various administrative staff who presented the awards.

Terry Purcell, vice president of ambulatory and support services, said the hospitals are fortunate to have so many employees that go out of their way to help the patients.

"It's a great day for us to recognize you," he said. "If it wasn't for our dedicated employees, we wouldn't be here today."

He then read off the years of service awards, starting at five years, and ending at 45 years. A total of 122 nurses were recognized for these milestones.

Following the years of service recognitions, nomination letters for each of the nursing excellence and ancillary, business and support staff award recipients were read. Recipients were Inge Allen, Gail Christman, Michelle DeSousa, Paul Klose, Kelly Valent, Kristine Zemanik, Vanessa Moulthrop, Sonya Fisher, Jackie Grier, Kathy Prutzman, Gail Schappell, and Laura Snyder, all nursing excellence awards; and Sherry Boyde, Casey Daubenspeck, Kathy Hill, Wanda Kocher, Nancy Matyas, and Penn Merkel, ancillary, business and support staff award recipients.

Two special honors, which were not announced until the end of each assembly, were presented.

The Blue Ribbon Service Excellence Award is presented to a person at the hospital who goes above and beyond their job to help people.

This year's recipients were Susan Stidham of Gnaden Huetten's emergency services, and her husband Pete; and Diane (Dee) Owens of The Owl's Nest gift shop at Palmerton Hospital.

Stidham, who was nominated for the award by former patient Mary Kubin, was named the recipient for helping Kubin get home from the hospital after a taxi would not come. Kubin was hospitalized in February and upon discharge, she had no ride home, so Stidham and her husband took her home.

"This was so greatly appreciated and beyond the call of duty," Kubin wrote.

Owens was named because of compassion and kindness while operating the gift shop.

While on duty, Owens notice a gentleman "sitting in the lounge for hours, with no ride home, nothing to eat or drink and no money. The man asked Dee for $1 to get something to drink. Dee opened her purse and her heart and gave him $20 and told him to go to the cafeteria for a good meal and a drink. He was also able to obtain a ride home," the nomination states.

"Dee deserves to be recognized for the kind and caring person she is. She not only helps visitors and patients, she is always there for any Blue Mountain Health employee."