Converse Joins D-H's Patriot-ic Nurses

May 22, 2012
Lebanon, NH

Cynthia Freudenthal, RN, right, nominated Kelli Converse, RN, center, for the award.

Kelli Converse, RN, recently joined the corps of nursing leaders at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) to earn Patriot Awards from the National Guard and Reserve for their support of employees juggling military-service obligations with their patient-care responsibilities.

The New Hampshire Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NHESGR) conferred the award on Converse on May 18. Cynthia Freudenthal, RN, a night nurse whom Converse supervises in the neuroscience special-care unit, nominated Converse for her flexibility in adjusting staff hours so that Freudenthal can answer call-ups with her Army Reserve unit in Somersworth, NH.

"I go away about one weekend a month, and in the service, we screw up our schedules all the time," Freudenthal said. "This past summer, it ended up being a month's commitment. I had to fly out on July 6, and I didn't get my orders until the 2nd of July. But Kelli was awesome about it, at the last moment. She made the adjustments, and everybody else in the unit was great. I've been with this crowd of people since I was a nursing student.

"They're like family."

Freudenthal first joined the family as a licensed nursing assistant in 2008, while pursuing her nursing degree at Norwich University in Northfield, VT. After graduating from Norwich in 2010, she applied for D-H's nurse-residency program, in which "she has been exceptional," Converse said. "She is a great leader in our units. She is very motivating, has a very positive outlook, and is always ready to help."

That outlook comes from nine years with the reserves, including a 13-month deployment to Iraq in 2005 and 2006 as a petroleum-supply specialist with combat-lifesaver qualifications – during some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

"A lot of times it was just me with whichever soldier was injured," said Freudenthal, who on May 20 received her commission as a lieutenant in the reserves. "Guess that's why, when crises happen here, I'm very cool, calm and collected. I go, 'Breathe. We're not going to help anybody if we're just chaotic.'"

Converse added, "It's an intense unit, so we really appreciate what she brings to every situation."

In November of 2011, the ESGR recognized Patricia Graffum, RN, of the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), and  Jannette "Nettie" Olson, RN, of the pediatric clinics at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD), for their support of staff members with similar obligations.

In addition to applauding individual supervisors for the Patriot Award ESGR reviews small businesses, large businesses, and public-sector employers for eligibility for additional awards. These include the Pro Patria Award for support of employees through leadership and personnel policies, and the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award .

"We're here to recognize people who go out of their way to accommodate the military," said Ted Brown, a military outreach representative of the New Hampshire Committee for ESGR. "We thoroughly recognize the hardships that the employer undergoes. The military – and the families of our service members – could not function without this kind of support."

About Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a national leader in evidence-based and patient-centered health care. The system includes hundreds of physicians, specialists, and other providers who work together at different locations to meet the health care needs of patients in northern New England. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and centers of excellence including The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice (TDI).

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