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May 23, 2024

SVSU honors area nurses

Carleen K. Moore Nursing Excellence Awards recognize caregivers

group shot of women with corsages

Nine nursing professionals were recognized for their dedication, compassion and expertise when Saginaw Valley State University’s Department of Nursing hosted the Carleen K. Moore Nursing Excellence Awards today at SVSU. The 13th annual celebration luncheon highlighted the invaluable impact nurses have on patient care. 

The nursing awards were established through a generous gift from Terry and Carleen Moore to recognize the outstanding achievements of nurses across specialties, including critical care, pediatrics, mental health, education, long-term care and more. Carleen Moore worked as a nurse for many years, so the couple are intimately aware of the challenges nurses face and the value they bring to patients and their families.

The winners of this year’s awards were nominated by colleagues and healthcare leaders and selected through a rigorous evaluation process. Nine nurses were honored in three categories:  

Acute Care Nursing


  • Christel Coulter is a pre-procedure testing coordinator at Ascension St. Mary’s in Saginaw. As part of a multidisciplinary work group focused on pre-op screening for low-risk procedures, Coulter has been instrumental in enhancing patient safety and streamlining the surgical processes. She combines her love of learning and teaching with a cheerful outlook to create an environment of continuous improvement and excellence.


  • Kyle Gordon-Bidwell is recognized for his genuine compassion and empathy at MyMichigan Medical Center in Midland. A staff RN and clinical supervisor in the medical intensive care unit (MICU), Gordon-Bidwell provides holistic patient care, focusing on the emotional well-being of his patients as well as on their physical health. As chair of the United Practice Council of the MICU, MyMichigan, Gordon-Bidwell has led that body to achieve significant milestones that improve patient outcomes.


  • Jennifer O’Hara, an emergency department nurse at McLaren Bay Region in Bay City, is known for her unwavering work ethic, as she consistently delivers the highest standard of care to patients and helps guide less experienced staff as they gain knowledge and skills. O’Hara was selected by her peers to chair the Emergency Department Professional Nurse Council at McLaren Bay Region, where she advocates tirelessly for excellence in emergency training.


Community Nursing


  • Nicole Brookman serves as the women’s and children’s outreach coordinator at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw. Brookman was cited for delivering innovative care in nontraditional settings, including home care, community practice and case management. She is a staunch advocate for holistic maternal and infant health. Brookman is an enthusiastic advocate for safe sleep education in the Saginaw community, sharing her knowledge at Covenant and as a co-chair of the Safe Sleep Task Force of the Saginaw BWell Maternal Infant Team. Brookman has also collaborated with the Ten16 Recovery Network to present comprehensive care programs for pregnant women with substance use disorders.


  • Kristel Pfenninger is a school nurse for Bay City Public Schools. Pfenninger draws on her experience as a pediatric intensive care nurse and applies her keen assessment skills and a proactive approach to make a significant impact on the students under her care. Pfenninger has also trained school staff in CPR and has volunteered to teach first aid to Girl Scouts in the Bay area. Her efforts in implementing Stop the Bleed and Narcan training programs have enhanced emergency preparedness in the school district.


Nursing Education


  • Michele Barkley, a nurse educator at Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, is recognized for her commitment to enhancing patient care through education and research. In a career that has spanned 55 years at Covenant, Barkley has demonstrated a genuine desire to make a positive difference in the lives of patients. Barkley currently serves as a lead facilitator for Covenant’s “See Me as a Person” program, and she plays a vital role on Covenant’s childbirth education team and serves as an American Heart Association Basic Life Support instructor.


  • Linda Sarantis is a clinical nurse educator at Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw, where she demonstrates a passion for advancing patient care through education and research. Extending her compassionate nature to the community, Sarantis is a longtime volunteer with Underground Railroad and a frequent speaker on the topics of human trafficking and domestic violence. She was instrumental in the securing funding for the implementation of a human trafficking first responder team. As a sexual assault nurse examiner, Sarantis provides compassionate care to survivors of sexual assault.


  • Hope Schafer is a nursing professional development specialist nurse at MyMichigan Health in Midland. In her role, Schafer has continually demonstrated a commitment to advancing nursing education and improving patient care. At MyMichigan, Schafer led the creation of a patient care technician (PCT) training program that has equipped 187 patient care technicians with necessary skills and contributed to a one-year retention rate of 72% in PCT roles. She has also streamlined the training program for medical/surgical nursing staff, making it more accessible and tailored to the needs of nurses across various MyMichigan locations. Schafer is deeply involved in community service, volunteering with youth sports teams, engaging in nursing outreach initiatives and educating local high school students during their visits to MyMichigan Health’s simulation center.


  • Molly Stapish, an assistant professor at Delta College, stands out for her commitment to innovative educational practices and her contributions to enhancing patient care through education and research. Stapish is respected for her dedication to fostering critical thinking and evidence-based practice among her students. Through simulations, she provides students with firsthand experiences that mirror real-world clinical scenarios, enhancing their preparedness for professional practice. Outside of the classroom, Stapish volunteers at the Helen M. Nickless Volunteer Clinic in Bay City and is a member of the National League of Nursing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she lent her expertise to the Bay County Health Department COVID Vaccine Clinic at Delta College.

Speakers and presenters included Tami Pobocik, SVSU Nursing Department chair; Ava Lewis, SVSU professor of nursing; Shane Hunt, vice president for nursing for Ascension St. Mary’s, Standish and St. Joseph’s Hospitals; and Andrea Frederick, SVSU professor of nursing. 

About Carleen K. Moore

After working as a licensed practical nurse for almost 15 years, Carleen K. Moore returned to nursing school to become a registered nurse. She then worked in the critical care units at Midland Medical Center before retiring from full-time nursing in 2001. Carleen and her husband, Terry, believe in the importance of recognizing and encouraging nurses who demonstrate excellence in their field, and in promoting the reputation of Saginaw Valley State University and the SVSU nursing program.