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Harris honored for support of employees’ military service

Jul. 27, 2017, 8:42 AM

Kaye Harris, MSN, R.N., manager of Supplemental Staffing Programs, has received a Patriotic Employer Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a program of the Department of Defense.

Joe Thomas, right, with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), presents the Patriotic Employer Award to VUMC’s Kaye Harris, R.N., center. Debbie Hoffmann, R.N., left, nominated Harris for the award. (photo by Kristi Irving)

ESGR volunteer Joe Thomas, a former Air National Guard member, presented the award to Harris on July 20 at The Vanderbilt Clinic. She was nominated by Debbie Hoffmann, R.N., a nurse in the Adult Float Pool who is also a flight nurse in the Delaware Air National Guard.

Harris, whose father was in the Air Force, said she holds a special place in her heart for those who serve in the armed forces.

“It is truly an honor to even be nominated for this award,” she said. “We try hard to work with all our staff to create a positive work-life balance. Our military staff are not only striving to fulfill their nursing obligation for Vanderbilt but are protecting our country as well.”

Hoffmann has spent two decades in the service, most recently five years in the Delaware National Guard. A nurse at Vanderbilt since 2008, she travels more than 700 miles just to get to her post in Newcastle, Delaware, where she transferred in 2014. Her unit, the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, responds to disasters and transports wounded warriors — medical surgical patients with battle injuries.

Sometimes, Hoffmann is required to deploy with just a day’s notice. She said Harris has always been flexible with her unusual schedule.

“She’s a wonderful supervisor,” Hoffmann said. “She has always understood.”

Harris said the award means a lot to her. “It validates that we are doing the right thing to achieve our goal of having a great working environment,” she said. “I use the word ‘we’ often, for I believe that this is a team effort and the entire management team strives to treat our staff like family and realizes the importance of other responsibilities away from Vanderbilt.”

Robin Steaban, MSN, R.N., Chief Nursing Officer for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and Clinics, was on hand for the award ceremony.

“It is thrilling to see Kaye recognized for supporting Debbie in the service to our country,” she said. “Kaye’s extraordinary commitment to making a difference for each employee allows nursing staff to focus on making a difference for patients. In Debbie’s case, that means being in service to the men and women who protect each of us through service to their country. I am so very honored to be the CNO for these two amazing Vanderbilt nurses.”

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