Trinkley Wins First Spies Award for Nursing Excellence

With surprise and tears, Devin Trinkley, RN, FNE-A/P accepted the first Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award as the award’s namesake looked on. The Spies Award was established through the Memorial Hospital Foundation by Karin Brown to honor Karen Spies, RN, for her caring and professional service.

Spies knew Brown and her parents for many years and provided extraordinary care during health crises experienced by the family. Brown contacted the Memorial Hospital Foundation about making a donation to honor Karen Spies. The gift Brown made to the Foundation now funds the Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award. Brown explains, “Karen is an inspiration. If other nurses can be inspired to give patients this same kind of care and attention, other people can have more time with their loved ones.”

A 1972 graduate of the Macqueen Gibbs Willis School of Nursing, Karen Spies worked as a nurse at The Memorial Hospital at Easton until 1999, when she joined the practice of Ludwig Eglseder, MD. Her hospital nursing career included over 15 years in the emergency department and assignments on the medical/surgical and post anesthesia care units.

“As nurses, we are advocates for our patients and for their family members,” says Spies. “It is important for nurses to help patients voice their opinions and to keep them informed about their care. I want people to know that they can trust me, that I am there for their medical issues as well as for emotional support.”

The Karen Spies Nursing Excellence Award is given out annually to recognize a nurse for extraordinary nursing research accomplishments. Trinkley received the first Spies Award to recognize her research, which was focused on domestic violence screening in the rural community hospital setting. Trinkley’s passion for the prevention and care of victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence are paralleled in Spies’ nursing history. In 1997, Spies launched the sexual assault nurse examiner program in the Memorial Hospital emergency department.

The purpose of Trinkley’s study was threefold: to quantify the rate of domestic violence screening that takes place in the emergency departments; to obtain data to facilitate refinement of the domestic violence screening process; and to increase awareness of screening practices to broaden the healthcare industry’s understanding of how nurses perform during domestic violence screening.

Assisting Trinkley with her research project were Sandy Bryan, MHA, BSN, RN-BC, clinical research specialist for Shore Health System; Karen Speroni, PhD, RN, chair of the Shore Health System Nursing Research Council; and Hubert A Allen, Jr., ScM, statistical analyst. The research study looked at emergency room visits from one year at Memorial Hospital and Dorchester General Hospital. The total number of visits was just over 50,000, which involved 12,000 individuals, some of whom had multiple visits in the same year.

As a result of this research, Shore Health System will initiate community education programs about resources available to assist those in danger of domestic violence and to offer strategies for youth violence prevention. Additional training of nurses will also be initiated to assist them with the process of domestic violence screening.

Trinkley has presented her research findings in the form of poster presentations at several regional nursing conferences. She has been selected to give a podium presentation about her study at the 17th Annual Scientific Assembly of the International Association of Forensic Nurses in October.