Small Town News


March of Dimes honors Stephanie San Felice

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

- Advertisement -

Nurse received the Distinguished Nurse of the Year award

Stephanie San Felice became a nurse to serve others, not to receive recognition but she did receive recognition recently when the Arizona March of Dimes named her Distinguished Nurse of the Year.

Distinguished Nurse of the Year is the highest award given by March of Dimes. This is the-first time a Verde Valley Medical Center nurse received the honor.

San Felice has been a registered nurse for 28 years, that last four at VVMC in the intensive care unit. She was nominated for the award by her director, Lori Stevens and Dr. Thomas Newman, a nephrologist at the medical center.

"I'm kind of overwhelmed and honored. I just do what I do," San Felice said. "At the time I didn't feel like I did anything extraordinary. I still don't, but maybe it will inspire others."

Vice President of Nursing Jennifer Brewer said she felt honored to have a nurse of San Felice's caliber provide care to patients in Sedona and the Verde Valley.

"Stephanie truly represents the many outstanding nurses at Verde Valley Medical Center, and the opportunity to have her be recognized at a state level demonstrates the type of nursing care rural hospitals can offer," Brewer said.

San Felice knew since she was a little girl she wanted to be a nurse.

"I always wanted to do something that made a difference in someone's life. As a nurse, I think I can do that," she said.

Intensive care is where she has worked most of her | career in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Cottonwood.

"I like that I'm the one who gives my patients all their care. We know everything about them and their family. The family is important because they can help you care for their loved one," San Felice said. "I like having them included. Often the family feels left out. It's important they be together. It's a frightening time for both of them."

She said being involved gives the family a chance to see how their loved one is being cared for so when at home, they can provide the care.

"It would be unfair to send them home without showing them how," San Felice said.

San Felice was not only recognized as an outstanding nurse but also for establishing a bereavement program, which started at VVMC in April. The program offers support and resources to family members before, during and after the death of a loved one to help start the process of healing.

The program begins with a sympathy card from the medical center signed by everyone who helped take care of the ioved one. A packet is mailed to the loved one with supportive information and a booklet about grief. It also includes a list of services available in the area.

Working as an ICU nurse, San Felice saw the need for a program. After a loved one dies, the family members go home.

At one time San Felice worked for an organ procurement program, San Felice worked closely with families who just lost a loved one. She saw the pain on their faces and heard it in their voices.

"That's where the idea of a bereavement program came about. I thought somebody should do something for these families. Once the lightbulb went on, I realized somebody was me," San Felice said.

She is currently working on making up packets ahead of time to give to the family before they leave the medical center.

"It's nice to have something to give them rather than turn them out with nothing," San Felice said. "I'd like to grow the program, especially for when it's a child who dies, and include items like something to save a lock of hair or a hand print."

San Felice moved to the Verde Valley with her husband Rusty San Felice and their six children in 2008. She always knew the family would live here.

"When we dated he told me Sedona was where we were going to retire. He was a police officer in the Washington, D.C., area. He now is a sergeant for the Jerome Police Department," Stephanie San Felice said. "We got married at Tlaquepaque."

Rusty San Felice's father was also a police officer and retired to Mesa. Eventually all of the children followed their father west, she said.

Making a difference in the lives of others has a positive impact on San Felice's life and the life of her family, she said.

"Being recognized for helping others is an honor, but it is really about the patients and families we care for. I am thankful to be part of their lives," San Felice said.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or email

"I always wanted to do something that made a difference in someone's life. As a nurse, I think I can do that."

Stephanie San Felice

WMC Intensive Care Registered Nurse

WMC Intensive Care

Verde Valley Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit' is for patients who require a highly controlled environment or intense observation and nursing care. Patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, dieticians, social workers and other appropriate health care professionals. The unit includes in-patient hemodialysis.

Copyright 2012 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: September 26, 2012

More from Cottonwood Journal Extra