|Nurse Director Sonya Ehrhardt Receives 2011 Palmetto Gold Award for Nursing Excellence
Sonya Kay Ehrhardt, Nurse Director of Infection Control, PICC Program, Dialysis and Sterile Processing at the Regional Medical Center, was honored as one of the 2011 Palmetto Gold Award recipients at the annual Palmetto Gold Gala held in Columbia, recently. She is the first RMC nurse to receive this annual state award.
Presented by a coalition of South Carolina nursing organizations, this prestigious award honors the best of the best in nursing. The Palmetto Gold Nurse program recognizes registered nurses in South Carolina who exemplify excellence in nursing practice and a commitment to the nursing profession. This is the 10th anniversary of the Palmetto Gold awards, and this annual award honors 100 nurses (out of the 64,000 registered nurses in S.C. for 2011).
Criteria for the selection of Palmetto Gold recipients include: promotes and advances the profession of nursing in a positive way in the practice setting or in the community; displays caring and commitment to patients, families, and colleagues; demonstrates leadership and facilitates growth and development of others; and contributes to the overall achievement of outcomes in the practice setting.
The nurses chosen are among the 100 best nurses from across South Carolina to be recognized for their focus on remarkable patient care and dedication to the nursing profession. They demonstrate exceptional leadership and a boundless compassion for patients, families, and colleagues. Their dedication, compassion and skill make our hospitals a better place for you and me. They promote excellence at the bedside and in the community.
“Sonya exemplifies what it means to passionately blend the art of caring with the science of healthcare,” commented RMC Chief Nursing Officer/Vice President Julia Yawn. “She truly follows the footsteps of Florence Nightingale, founder of the modern nursing profession. I am so grateful to have her as a part of the RMC team.”
Ehrhardt, who is pursuing her master of science degree in nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina, was recognized also as a “Golden Student” in the Nursing Lifelines publication of MUSC’s Medical University of S.C. College of Nursing publication for this honor.
She joined the RMC staff in 1990 and held various nursing positions in the Intensive Care Unit, Labor and Delivery, Postpartum and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Newborn Nursery, Wound Center, Diabetic Education and Infection Control before becoming a nurse director. Additionally, she is liaison for RMC’s RN to BSN and the BSN to MSN nursing programs, is a certified Safe Sitter instructor and is a former chairperson of the Nurse Mentorship program.
Certified in Infection Control and Epidemiology since 2005, Ehrhardt received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina Upstate and an associate of nursing degree from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
Among her many professional affiliations are 2011 Leadership Orangeburg County member, 2010 SCHA Management Academy graduate, Palmetto Association of Professionals in Infection Control past board member, S.C. Hospital Infections Disclosure Act (HIDA) Advisory Committee member, and O-C Technical College’s Practical Nursing Advisory Committee member. Ehrhardt has received two international awards, the 2009 APIC Hero Infection Prevention Award and the 2002 Sharps Safety Ideas Initiative Diamond Award for her work at the Regional Medical Center. Other special interests in the community include participation in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Notes for Neighbors.
According to Ehrhardt, the Palmetto Gold recognition is for the entire RMC family. “If one of us at RMC is honored, then we can all rejoice together,” she commented. “Our nurses strive for excellence every day, and I am confident that many RMC nurses will follow as a recipient of this special award. RMC is my hospital, and it is the hospital of my community. My family, friends, and fellow community members deserve the highest quality and most compassionate care, and I will continue striving along with my coworkers to make RMC even better!”