Maryland Nurses Association District 9 President Michele Gleismann presents Nurse of the Year Award to Nona Alexander of Ft. Washington Medical Center.

Waldorf, MD — “Nurses make all the difference.” That’s how St. Mary’s County Commissioner John O’Connor [R – 3rd District] describes his interaction with members of the nation’s largest health care profession. O’Connor has first-hand experience–he was shot three times and hit twice with IED’s during his combat service in the U.S. Army for which he received the Purple Heart.

O’Connor was speaking at the Maryland Nurses Association Southern Maryland District Annual Nursing Awards Dinner May 9 at Middleton Hall in Waldorf. O’Connor delivered proclamations in honor of the nurses for the commissioners of St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles.

O’Connor also noted recently observed interactions of nurses and wounded (physically and mentally) veterans. He related one experience where the nurse just sat and listened attentively to the veteran’s story He said nurses can save a life in silent ways. “It’s what you do.”

District 9 President Michele Gleismann, who has just retired as a nurse in a private practice in Calvert County, and other board member presented the four annual awards at the dinner.

They are:

• Nurse of the Year – Nona Alexander, lead charge nurse, Med/Surg, ICU, Critical Care at Fort Washington Medical Center
• The Grace Brown Scholarship Award for Advanced Practice – Co-recipients Kelly Cooper, BSN and Andrew Doctor, PhD
• The JoAnne Zwick Award to an outstanding nurse in direct nursing care and professionalism within the community – Gail Lessner, clinical nurse II Telemetry and resource nurse at Charles Regional Medical Center
• The Grace E. Brown Nurse Educator Award – Mary Hannah, manager of Population Health Management at Charles Regional Medical Center.

Guest speaker for the event was Dr. Ngozi Wexler, medical director of the OB/GYN Hospitalist Program at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center. She spoke on “Silent Killer: GYN Cancers.” Attending Dr. Wexler’s talk counted towards the attendees’ continuing education requirement.

Dr. Wexler described GYN cancers as any cancer affecting the female reproductive system. She emphasized early detection and treatment of the four types of GYN cancers: uterine, ovarian, cervical and vulvar.

Uterine cancer affects two to three percent of women. A hysterectomy is one treatment option. Detection and treatment at Stage 1 leads to 85 to 90 percent of the patients being cancer-free in five years.

Ovarian cancer affects one in 55 women and those over 55 are especially at risk. Hysterectomy is also a treatment option.

Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by HPV infection. Risk factors include multiple sexual partners and early age intercourse. Treatment is a radical hysterectomy.

Vulvar cancer is the most common GYN cancer with 4,900 case diagnosed annually. Treatment options include vulvar excision or chemotherapy and radiation.

The annual event included dinner, a silent auction and numerous door prizes.

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