Top 150 Nurses

Casey Smith, Director of Nursing Operations, and Jonathan Gecomo, Lead – Clinical Informatics, were recently recognized as Top 150 Nurses by The Houston Chronicle at Salute to Nurses. The annual event celebrates National Nurses Week and the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of care.

Since 2000, The Houston Chronicle has solicited nominations from the public for its Salute to Nurses awards, which are then reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel, and 15 outstanding nursing professionals are chosen to be honored as greater Houston’s Top 15 Nurses of the Year.

We spoke with Jonathan and Casey about their experiences as nurses, their history with BSLMC and their great accomplishments in being named a Top 150 Nurse.

Jonathan Gecomo

What does it mean to you to be recognized as an outstanding nurse?

I am extremely honored and humbled to be named one of the Top 15 Nurses in the greater Houston area by the Houston Chronicle. There are many nurses, including my nurse friends and colleagues at BSLMC who are equally capable and deserving of winning this award, so it means a lot. More importantly, this award reminds me that everything we do for our patients is worth it. That every interaction we have with them makes a difference.

How has Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center supported you in your career?

My professional accomplishments are due in part to the support and encouragement I’ve received from BSLMC. It was 15 years ago that I immigrated to America from the Philippines and BSLMC was the first hospital to give me an opportunity. I began my nursing career in the ICU and, after a year, got a position as manager to help champion the implementation of EPIC. I was also working on my masters then and in a matter of days will be graduating with my doctorate in nursing. Baylor St. Luke’s has been supportive through all my different roles and degrees.

Why did you choose nursing, specifically informatics?

Being in a profession that gives me the opportunity to help others during the most vulnerable moment of their life provides me fulfillment and is the most meaningful reason for going into the medical field. Combine that with my love and interest in computers, what better opportunity.

What helps you remain inspired at work?

I have two advocacies. The first one is to educate our nurses to utilize the Electronic Health Record to its full intent and capacity and prepare them for when EHR is inaccessible. I’m blessed to possess the ability to create and develop new workflows to make our nursing process more efficient and simpler based on new evidence and research. Every optimization or change that we do in our EHR affects thousands of nurses and clinicians. Simplifying the process and allowing meaningful alerts to guide our clinicians in their tasks impacts the nursing practice and, most importantly, patient outcomes.

Secondly, I am a board member and chair of the informatics committee of the Philippine Nurses Association of America. I aspire to see that its members receive the support and mentoring needed to succeed in their career. The goal is to make sure our members feel connected to and proud of their Filipino heritage and the contributions they bring to the profession.

Tell us about a patient you’ll never forget.

It was my first year in the United States and I was working night shift during Christmas Eve 2004. My patient was in her mid-40s and it was her first time admitted to a hospital. She was extremely saddened to learn that she would miss out on a snowy night. I coordinated with her physician to bring her down to our hospital lobby while continuing to be monitored so she could see the snow. She was so elated and gave me a big hug. After being discharged, she sent a letter to our hospital president, thanking me and our hospital for making her stay special. What makes this even more memorable is that it was my first-time seeing snow.

Casey Smith

What does it mean to you to be recognized as an outstanding nurse?

It is very humbling and a great  honor to have been nominated by fellow nurses here at Baylor St. Luke’s, and specifically my unit practice council, for this award. During my tenure at Baylor St. Luke’s, there are so many nurses that I have worked with that demonstrate such a high level of skill and professionalism daily, any of them could have just as easily been the winner for this award. This award is a reminder to me that as a nurse leader, caring for our staff so that they can deliver the best outcomes is critical in the complex care environment we practice in.

How has Baylor St Luke’s Medical Center Supported you in your career?

I have had many opportunities to grow in my five years here at BSLMC. I am often heard referring to our facility as the land of opportunity. Having been in multiple roles, peri-op services to nursing operations, I have been given the tools and resources to grow and develop personally and as a leader. I was selected for the Journeys to Leadership excellence program in 2017 in which 20 of the top leaders in the Texas Division are given a yearlong class in leadership development. The tools and connections the program provided have been invaluable in growing my department, my staff, and the impact we have had on the facility. Being able to utilize these resources to assist my staff both at the bedside and in their professional development has been one the biggest rewards BSLMC has given me.

Why did you choose nursing, specifically nursing operations?

I was drawn to sciences in school, and have had a passion for helping those in need. Nursing was a simple choice to make as a career for both of those reasons. As a Cardiovascular ICU nurse earlier in my career, I was very frustrated in processes that didn’t allow patients to get the care they needed when they needed it. I carried this motivation forward into leadership and enjoy building relationships, and opening lines of communications in the silo’s that form in healthcare. In this way, I help the bedside caregivers meet their patients care needs quicker. Operationally, I can also show the nurses the process data that creates these barriers and how their efforts improve the process and provides them more time to care for their patients.

What helps you remain inspired at work?

The opportunity to always improve on the safety and quality of care we deliver to our patients is very motivating, and BSLMC has that environment. Knowing that there are always processes that can not only be improved, but being able to demonstrate the before and after effects of the improvement to the bedside nurse or nurse leaders is powerful for me. The result of these improvements, be it in staffing, staff education, or knowledge of who staff can escalate to for expediting a test or result helps our staff provide the world class care that BSLMC is known for.

Tell us about a patient you will never forget.

This was at the beginning of my career in Cooperstown and took care of her on multiple admissions. She was an elderly lady in a state of declining health and I got to take that journey not only with her, but her family as well. As her disease progressed and her memory faded, she would have moments of lucidity where she would look at me and thank me for all I was doing for her, and that she was even aware of my help when she was in this state. I was not at work the day she came in and passed, but her family called and requested me to come and be the one to withdraw support from her. I came in and once I was there, we withdrew care and she passed. She taught me that the personal connection that you can have with your patients is just as important as the professional one, and how caring for the family is as important as the patient.

Join us in congratulating Jonathan and Casey on this wonderful recognition. We appreciate their continued leadership and dedication to compassionate quality patient care.