Peggy Fuentes, RN, nurse manager for the Ambulatory Surgical Unit (ASU) and Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital (MEETH) has received the first-ever national PACU Manager of the Year award at the 2019 OR Manager Conference.
The annual conference brings more than 1,400 operating room managers, OR directors and other perioperative leaders from across the US for three days of continuing education and networking opportunities. Ms. Fuentes was among four managers honored at the conference who have performed exceptionally at their duties. The PACU Manager of the Year — given for the very first time at this conference — was created to honor an exceptional PACU leader who has made remarkable contributions to their surgical suite, as well as to the whole perioperative community.
Because of her position as a leader, Ms. Fuentes has been vocal about enacting changes that enhance the patient experience, which includes the establishment of a dedicated waiting room for parents of pediatric patients. She also has been credited with helping to increase patient volume for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a brain stimulation technique that can offer relief from mental illness symptoms, by identifying patients suffering from severe depression who had not found success in other treatments.
As both a manager and care provider, Ms. Fuentes attributes her success to constantly remembering the human element of the healthcare field.
“I have learned throughout the years, especially as a leader, that it’s about the heart,” Ms. Fuentes said. “The heart is everything in how we think, what we do, how we respond, what we say and how we say it. The heart is needed in making the right decisions at the right time.”
Upon accepting her award at the ceremony, Ms. Fuentes remarked on her longstanding commitment to nursing: “At the end of the day, there’s one constant. I would not change the single most important decision I made a lifetime ago to pursue a nursing career.”
Ms. Fuentes knew nursing was her calling from an early age. She attended a vocational high school in Manhattan so she could pursue a nursing track. She later earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from LIU Brooklyn and ended up staying at one of the school’s affiliate hospitals, Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, where she worked her way up the ranks to assistant director of perioperative services before coming to MEETH in 2015.
A beloved figure within the MEETH community, Ms. Fuentes is looked up to by colleagues as a staple of strength and compassion.
“Peggy is a beautiful person who engages others with genuine intellectual humility, but most of all, is an excellent clinician,” said Beata Mastalerz, associate executive director of perioperative services at MEETH. “She is a transformational leader who focuses on our organizational goals and is always pursuing innovative ways to improve our practice. We are very proud to have Peggy on our leadership team.”