(June 16, 2023) – The Kansas Hospital Association's Health Care Worker of the Year Award highlights hospital employees who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of their hospital. These individuals are nominated for this award because they routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.
Looking beyond the medical parameters and understanding the concerns for someone under palliative care, requires a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy. Stephanie Arbaiza, a nurse practitioner with Stormont Vail Health, uses these tools to advocate for patients and their families during times filled with fear, sadness and uncertainty.
Arbaiza never views her patients as just a diagnosis or a statistic. They are unique individuals with distinctive worldviews and defined ideas about the quality of life. She understands the choices a patient or a patient's family makes may not align with a clinical team’s recommendation or even her own preference. Arbaiza practices a holistic open-heartedness that bridges the gap between comfort and clinical treatment. She has the heart to care for the dying and ensures nursing staff understand and feel comfortable with the plan of care. She also translates complex medical information into understandable language that is useful to both her peers and patients alike. She routinely collaborates with other members of the health care team to ensure an excellent understanding of the entire clinical and social picture. This enables her to effectively assist her patients in complex medical decision-making and provide safe and effective management of the symptoms associated with serious illness.
Arbaiza actively mentors nursing staff on a daily basis during her rounds. Staff are comfortable approaching her with questions and concerns as they know they will receive honest feedback and coaching. She has advanced Stormont Vail's ability to care for dying patients through her advocacy and education. She is asked by others to speak on various topics pertaining to palliative care.
Arbaiza will be recognized, along with other Health Care Worker of the Year nominees, during the KHA Awards Luncheon at the 2023 KHA Annual Convention, Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Hyatt Regency Wichita/Century II Convention Center in Wichita.