Ephraim nurse is Kentucky Nurses Association 2021 nurse of the year

Published 4:54 pm Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Kentucky Nurses Association has named Ephraim McDowell nurse Lisa Lockhart as the 2021 Nurse of the Year.

Lockhart is service excellence coordinator at Ephraim McDowell Health and a member of KNA’s board of directors. KNA is the only professional organization for Kentucky’s entire nurse population. It represents and supports 90,000 nurses in the state.

At Ephraim McDowell, Lockhart works on pathways to excellence designation and magnet designation by ensuring the hospital meets performance outcomes that reflect quality care. She works on behalf of nurses to make work environments better and make sure their voices are heard in legislation.

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The pandemic had disrupted programs that promote shared governance. But Lockhart resurrected shared governance at Ephraim McDowell to help nurses influence some policy decisions.

Lockhart is originally from Louisville. She moved to Florida shortly after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University and stayed for a couple of decades. Having married someone also from Kentucky, the couple missed the state and moved to Danville in 2014.

That year, Lockhart joined the KNA because she wanted to support nursing.

“I love being a nurse; my mother was a nurse, and I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was a little girl,” Lockhart said. “I feel very passionately about caring for others.”

She continued, “As you grow and learn and you get more educated and experienced, you learn that it’s important to belong to professional organizations so you can help shape the future of the profession that you love. That’s why I’m a very active member of the KNA. I want to be a part of finding solutions, instead of being a part of a problem, meaning complaining about situations and not taking an active part in making things better.”

As a board member of KNA, Lockhart acts as liaison to student nurses and subscribers. She is also chairperson of the Membership Recruitment and Retention committee, and vice chair for KNA’s local chapter that meets at Ephraim McDowell, called Nightingale. KNA is divided into 12 groups of counties. The Nightingale chapter serves Anderson, Boyle, Casey, Mercer, Garrard, Marion, Lincoln, Rockcastle, and Washington counties.

“The KNA Student Subscriber member group has increased significantly in the last 12 months thanks to Lisa’s dedication and perseverance,” said KNA Chief Executive Officer Delanor Manson.

Lockhart helps support student nurses in the area by having monthly meetings, offering mentoring programs, education, and encouraging them to be active in influencing policy. She said she does about 40 hours of work a month at KNA.

“Her commitment to KNA isn’t new; she chaired the Professional Nursing and Advocacy Cabinet that developed a survey to look at workplace violence,” Manson said. “The report was presented at the 2019 annual conference. Multiple media outlets interviewed Lisa about the results and her views on the findings. Subsequently, she also was appointed to the statewide nursing

Technical Advisory Committee. Lisa’s leadership in engaging students in the work of KNA will have lasting value.”

Nationally, the U.S. is having one of the biggest nursing shortages in its history, partially due to the pandemic. Lockhart said the pandemic made learning to be a nurse a huge challenge for students. She knows students who were traumatized by it and some that dropped out of nursing school because of it.

Nurses in Kentucky are also leaving for other states for better salaries and to be near larger cities. One thing Lockhart and the KNA are working on is coming up with incentives to help nurses stay in Kentucky, especially in rural areas. Rural hospitals with few resources would especially suffer from more loss of nurses.

“My goal is to help be a part of the solution to that because the people we serve need us to be there,” Lockhart said. “It’s important we support entrance into nursing schools, support nursing instructors and clinical experience, so communities across the country don’t lose the care we’ve become accustomed to as Americans.”

Manson is working with Gov. Andy Beshear for possible student loan reimbursement and special government programs for nurses.

A nurse for 37 years, Lockhart is passionate about the work she does. She loves living in Danville and looks forward to continue helping nurses in central Kentucky.