Stapleton resident Judy Linn recently won the 2013 Award of Excellence in Leadership from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Linn is the director of nursing at John George Psychiatric Hospital in Oakland, Calif.
According to Reuters, an APNA award is considered the highest form of recognition from the psychiatric mental health nursing community. Linn was selected from among 9,000 candidates.
Linn started working at John George Hospital three years ago. In 2007, she and her husband, Mike Holtby, moved to Stapleton to be close to her work at University Hospital, but the psych unit closed shortly after. She was offered the job in Oakland but didn’t move because of Holtby’s longtime private psychotherapy practice in Denver. She has commuted for three years, spending every other weekend in Stapleton.
Linn has managed to help transform John George Hospital, an inner-city hospital that was underserved for many years.
When she first began work there, the staff didn’t put sheets on the beds and served cold breakfasts. Patients ranked the hospital in the first percentile, the worst ranking among 255 other psychiatric hospitals nationwide. Now it ranks in the 75th percentile.
“It is such a huge honor to make a difference. We’re helping create something that is very valuable to the people we serve,” she says.
In her three years, Linn says she has promoted an environment where nurses can use all of their critical-thinking skills and art of caring to improve patients’ experiences.
With education and leadership, she says the nursing staff has really improved. John George is now a hospital where people want to go and people have tried to break in to become patients.
Holtby says Linn is exceptionally perceptive and intelligent. “It sounds so basic, but she treats patients like people and treats them with respect even if they come from a background of being homeless or psychotic.”
Empathy and ability to improve health are the two most important things as a nurse, Linn says.
Linn has worked in several psychiatric hospitals in Colorado, and says this is her favorite job. While the commute is difficult, topping 50 flights this year, she and Holtby, who is now retired, have made the arrangement work. People in the neighborhood might know them as the couple who owns the 135-pound Irish wolfhound. The two have a 7pm phone call every night and greatly value their time together and with family in Stapleton even more. They travel often and will be going to Ethiopia this year.
To learn more about the Award for Excellence in Leadership, visit http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3664.