Catholic Health Services Presents Its Top Leadership Award


Catholic Health Services Presents Its Top Leadership Award

Each year, Catholic Health Services (CHS) seeks nominations from its staff for the Patrick J. Scollard Award for Leadership. This year’s winner of CHS’s highest honor is Maribeth McKeever, LCSW-R, ACHP-SW, director of bereavement services for CHS’s Good Shepherd Hospice. Chosen from among colleagues across CHS, she was recognized at the system’s 14th annual leadership conference.

“Maribeth’s commitment to Catholic Health Services' mission is evident in her actions,” said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Alan D. Guerci, MD. “A leader dedicated to quality, she continually seeks new methods to enhance the delivery of care.”

Maribeth McKeever has excelled as a natural leader since she joined Good Shepherd Hospice in 2012. During her tenure, she has demonstrated a spirit of innovation through the creation of new programming, including Gabriel’s Courage, which addresses the needs of families who have received a life-limiting diagnosis of their newborn during pregnancy. Through this program, social workers, bereavement specialists, pastoral care staff and registered nurses visit families in their homes, establish a birth plan, accompany the family into the delivery room, ensure memory-building activities for all family members, including pictures and hand molds, and assist with burial arrangements. McKeever inspires and motivates others through her personal “hands-on” approach with these families and has assisted families 24/7 in the delivery room.

After identifying a gap in services, McKeever created specialized bereavement groups for the Hispanic population and, in particular, children who have experienced a significant loss through death. Good Shepherd offers groups for grieving children and their parents, but these sessions were offered in English. Hispanic children may be comfortable speaking English; however, their parents were unable to understand concepts of pediatric grief presented in English. Also, McKeever realized that the summer children’s camp offered by Good Shepherd did not have Spanish-speaking group leaders, virtually excluding these children and their parents from meaningful participation. She collaborated with the CHS grant team to secure funds and, with her bereavement team, created written materials and meaningful therapeutic group activities designed to help identify and express grief in Spanish. More than 25 children from this new program attended summer camp this year. An unanticipated benefit has been the participation of families who have been victims of gang violence.  

McKeever live in East Setauket with her husband, Sam Verni.

One of the two leading finalists for the Patrick J. Scollard Award is CHS’s Catholic Home Care’s Director of Performance Improvement Igor Nemov, MSN, APRN, GNP, BC. Nemov has a contagious spirit that allows him to lead his staff and peers through collaboration, creativity and a quest for clinical quality excellence, high customer service and strong operational performance all while using his sense of humor to engage those involved. After a Joint Commission visit to Catholic Home Care (CHC), Nemov and his team were assigned to read and craft a presentation on John Nance’s book Why Hospitals Should Fly. Nemov wrote, directed and starred as Spock in a Star Trek video called “Performance Improvement: The Next Frontier.” The video was an instant success with staff and taught best practice standards when caring for patients whether in their home or on a spaceship.

During an annual staff competency, Nemov and his team used CHC’s Smart Home to give a demonstration on how to perform a comprehensive patient assessment. Once again, Nemov engaged the staff through humor to share best practices. When competencies were completed, the feedback from staff was so positive that it led to CHC’s first Academy Awards, complete with “gold” statuettes, stars and a red carpet.

The father of Daniel, Elissa and Rafael, Nemov lives in Queens with his wife, Yuliya.

The other finalist for this notable honor is Karen Fee. A nurse manager in Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU), Fee continually seeks to enhance patient safety. Many SICU patients have traumatic brain injuries, requiring close observation. To best care for these patients, Fee developed and implemented a “safety watch” program on her unit. The process was so successful it was adapted throughout the hospital.  

Another way Fee improved her unit was by increasing communication between team members. Fee perfected a “team huddle” approach at the beginning of each shift and throughout the day or night, as needed. Any team member can “call a huddle,” emphasizing the value of everyone’s contribution, resulting in improved patient safety and a consistent message.

Fee lives in West Sayville with her husband, Jim.

Photo: (Top row, L-R) Good Shepherd Hospice Pastoral Care’s Rabbi Kathleen Novick, Laurie Smith, hospice home health aide supervisor, Janice Remmers, hospice and Catholic Home Care’s director of patient accounts, Gail Silver, chief operating officer for home care and hospice. (Bottom row, L-R) Susan O’Keeffe, pastoral care, hospice, Dawn Turpin, pastoral care, hospice, Mary Ellen Polit, chief administrative officer for home care and hospice, Scollard winner Maribeth McKeever, director of bereavement, Kerrianne Page, MD, chief medical officer for hospice, palliative care and home care, Alan D. Guerci, MD, CHS president and CEO, and former president and CEO of CHS and St. Francis Patrick J. Scollard.


Catholic Health Services (CHS) is an integrated system encompassing some of the region’s finest health and human services agencies.  With six acute care hospitals, three nursing homes, a home health agency, hospice, a community-based agency for persons with special needs and a regional lab, CHS’s high standards have resulted in a nearly 24% market share.

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