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Atrium Health Navicent Nurse Receives Statewide Lifetime Achievement Award

Retired Atrium Health Navicent Associate Chief Nursing Officer Dawn Cole was awarded the prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday during the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Hospital Hero Awards virtual celebration.

Cole, the only health care worker statewide to receive the award, was recognized for dedicating over 35 years to her career and her patients before she retired in 2019.

Described in her nomination as a “problem-solver and a visionary,” Cole entered nursing as a second career, starting in the adult intensive care unit in 1985. Although Cole’s career has included caring for both adults and children, her true passion has always been pediatrics. Over the years, she’s worked closely with Atrium Health Navicent’s leaders, caregivers, physicians, and community stakeholders to advocate for children’s services.

“Dawn spent her entire nursing career at Atrium Health Navicent and she has played a key role in shaping nursing and making it what it is today,” said Atrium Health Navicent Chief Nursing Executive Tracey Blalock. “She is one of the most selfless and giving individuals that you will ever meet. Dawn has touched so many lives, not just the patients she cared for, but the staff that she has mentored and led throughout her career. Dawn is so deserving of this prestigious award!”

In 1994, Cole was named the first nursing director of Children’s Health Clinics. In 2016, Cole was appointed the first associate chief nursing officer at Atrium Health Navicent. In that role, Cole was instrumental in developing numerous quality initiatives, partnering with human resources to implement a tuition reimbursement program, revising nursing education programs and creating the nurse residency program.

When Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital was founded in 2019, Cole worked tirelessly to gain support for the hematology/oncology service to pursue designation as part of the Cancer Oncology Group (COG). Participation in COG leads to improved patient outcomes and the ability to provide pediatric oncology patients with the highest quality care, while staying close to home and their support systems.

“I feel honored and overwhelmed. I was very emotional when I was first notified that I had been selected. Health care is a challenging environment and nursing is a very tough profession. For 35 years, I had the privilege of working with wonderful colleagues and patients, and am so pleased and honored by this award,” Cole said.

The GHA Hospital Hero Awards were established in 2005 as a way of recognizing the amazing hospital workers in our state. Each year, individuals are honored with this prestigious award. Over the years, GHA has honored doctors, nurses, volunteers, environmental services staff, dietary aides, social workers, emergency medical services staff, and more. The program awards heroic deeds as well as long-time service to the health care field. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a hospital employee from a GHA-member hospital who has dedicated a lifetime of service to the health care field and has made a significant impact in enhancing the operations and patient care of a hospital.

“Dawn Cole has been a remarkable advocate for pediatric patients, which is vital to ensuring they receive appropriate care,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “Dawn’s years of experience and dedication to her community and hospital are virtually unmatched, and we thank her for her many contributions toward a healthy Georgia. She is a most-deserving recipient of this award.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

About GHA

Founded in 1929, GHA serves more than 150 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens. The mission of GHA is to advance the health of individuals and communities by serving as the leading advocate for all Georgia hospitals and health care systems. GHA represents its members before the General Assembly and Congress, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies, and is an allied member of the American Hospital Association. For more information, please call 770-249-4500 or visit gha.org.


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