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NOVA History

NOVA – The Beginning…

During the fall of 1980, the nationwide shortage of registered nurses reached crisis proportions. Nurses were leaving the profession in droves, enrollment in nursing schools was decreasing, and discontent was widespread.  Discontent ranged from disillusionment with nursing as a profession to adversarial relationships with physicians and resulted in pronounced staffing shortages.

This unfortunate situation was no more pronounced than in the VA system.  When PL 96-330 was passed by Congress without direct input from VA nurses, a small group of dedicated nurses at the Hines VA Hospital in Illinois decided that it was time for action.  This decision marked the birth of the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs.
Earlier, in the spring of 1980, a proposal was drafted encompassing the concept of a nationwide professional nursing organization with an educational and legislative emphasis.  Since it was founded, NOVA has grown to include VA nurses from all over the United States. These nurses have pursued their goals resolutely and have been able to influence significantly our nation’s legislators on issues of veterans’ health care.

NOVA 2019 Highlights

  • 2019

    January 30, 2019: Webinar: “Evaluating Your Input for Your Proficiency for Nurse III”, presented by Nancy Claflin, Nurse Emeritus.

    February 6, 2019: Webinar: “So You are Planning to Meet with Your Member of Congress presented by Teresa Morris, Director, Advocacy and Government Relations.

    February 17, 2019: NOVA Calls on Congress to Strengthen VA Services.

    March 21, 2019: NOVA on the Hill Day kick-off took place at the Embassy Suites, Alexandria, VA. This event supported NOVA’s visibility on Capitol Hill, increasing connections to legislative activities that are important to the VA, Veterans and nursing workforce. NOVA Board members wore matching NOVA on the Hill tee-shirts for this special event.

    March 22, 2019: NOVA’s 25thAnnual Legislative Roundtable provided a medium to facilitate exchange of legislative priorities and positions, open dialogue about important issues affecting the Department of Veterans Administration (VA). This event took place at the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Headquarters, 807 Main Street SW, Washington, DC. Participants were welcomed by Thelma Roach- Serry, BSN, RN, NE-BC, NOVA President. Teresa Acosta, DNP, MSN, RN, NOVA’s Legislative Co-Chair, presented NOVA’s legislative agenda, followed by presentations from the Veterans Health Administration Central Office (VHACO) Office of Nursing Services (ONS), representatives from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), national nursing organizations, and Congressional legislative staff members. Participants attending included Congressional legislative staff from the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Leslie Campbell, Senior Staff Advisor on Veterans Health, Majority, and Sophia Friedl, Legislative Assistant Minority; from the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Christine Hill, Republican Staff Director, Subcommittee on Health; Megan Bland, Professional Staff Member, Majority; Samantha Gonzalez, Senior Legislative Associate, Subcommittee on Health, Minority; and Elizabeth MacKenzie, Democratic Staff Director, Subcommittee on Health. VSOs were represented including Tom Porter, Legislative Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; Joy Ilem, Director National Legislative Service, Disabled American Veterans; Adrian Adizado, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans; Morgan Brown, National Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; and Rene Campos, CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Senior Director, Government Relations, Military Officers Association of America. Staff from the VHACO ONS included Beth Taylor, DHA, RN, NEA-BC, Acting Chief Nursing Officer and Karen Ott, DNP, RN, Director for Policy and Legislation.  Representatives from professional nursing organizations included Ellie Cook, Strategic Outreach Coordinator, American Academy of Nursing; Colleen Leners, DNP, APRN, Director of Policy, American Association of Colleges of Nursing; Dianne Boettger, MHS, APRN, CRNA, President, Association of VA Nurse Anesthetists; Peter Kallio, CNP, CRNA, APNP, President-Elect, Association of VA Nurse Anesthetists; JP Mason, Associate Director, Federal Government Affairs, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists; Janet Haebler, Senior Associate Director Policy and Government Relations, American Nurses Association; Sam Hewitt, Senior Associate Director, Government Relations, American Nurses Association; Jo Ann Webb, RN, MHA, FAAN, Vice President, Federal Relations and Policy, American Organization of Nurse Executives/ American Hospital Association; Claudio Gualtieri, Advisor, Center to Champion Nursing in America/AARP; Clare Chmiel, Senior Government Affairs, Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association; Dave Mason, Federal Policy Consultant, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; Julia Knox, Communications and Project Manager, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health; Elliott Vice, Director Government Affairs, National Council of State Boards of Nursing; Christine Murphy, Director Public Policy and Advocacy, National League for Nursing; Jessica Talbert, American Association of Nurse Practitioners; and Dede Sweeney, Director, Government Affairs, Oncology Nursing Society. NOVA members included President Thelma Roach- Serry, BSN, RN, NE-BC; President Elect Kelly Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN; Secretary/ Treasurer Ruth Holmes, MSA, BSN, RN; Membership Secretary Ronald Nardi, MSN, APRN, PMHCNS-BC; Director and Co-Chair Legislative Committee Teresa Acosta, DNP, MSN, RN; Director Catherine Giasson, DNP, MHA, RN, NE-BC; Director Ernestine Goode, MSA, BSN, RN, CRRN, CBIS; Director Theresa Presley, MSN, RN, CNL, CCRN; Director Michelle Salazar, RN; Director TJ Wilcox- Olson, MHS, RN; Past Presidents/Nurse Emeritus Nancy Claflin, DNP, MS, RN, NEA- BC, CENP, CCRN-K, CPHQ, FNAHQ and Margaret Kruckemeyer, MSN, ARNP-C. Members of NOVA’s Legislative committee included Valarie Moorer, MSN, NP-C; Sandra Rodriguez, RN, and Judy Simson, RN. Also attending were NOVA Executive Director Kristy Cohen and Teresa Morris, Director, Advocacy and Government Relations.

    NOVA’s 2019 Legislative Priority Goals included: Implementation of The VA MISSION Act/Community  Care Network: Require that training, competency and quality standards for Community Care Network (CCN) providers are equal to those of VHA providers; Request Third Party Administrator to verify that providers meet those standards before assigning to CCN panel; Simplify rules for eligibility and access to Community Care without draining VA funds; Ensure that VA continues to be the first point of access and coordinator of all health care for enrolled Veterans; Implement a care coordination system allowing Veterans to return with ease back to the VA when resources are available; and Employ mandatory training for VHA personnel and all community providers to improve the coordination of care, understanding of military culture and health care needs across networks; and Staffing/Recruitment and Retention: Address difficulties of USA Jobs website including complexity and excessive time required to complete application, properly respond and provide feedback of completed applications; Ensure HR has sufficient trained staff in order to review and streamline policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and speed of the hiring process; Support competitive wages for ALL VA Staff; Undertake a thorough review of downgrades, reclassification of critical positions and implement salary surveys across VA; Increase training of HR personnel on use of Locality Pay, and congressional authorizations to improve entire hiring process; and Revise the cap on Nurse Pay structures and RN pay schedules and reclassification of critical positions so that VA can ensure competitive salaries; and Electronic Health Record/VA Modernization: Electronic Health Record/VA Modernization: The new Electronic Health Record must support VA’s model of health care delivery; Implement IT that can successfully consolidate programs used to track and trend patient health care records across the system; Allocate funding so proper IT support and training can be provided to the field to improve patient safety, software usability and data standardization; and Support a Modernization Plan that includes appropriate use of funding, and inclusion of nursing in strategic decision making, access, operational efficiency, and training.

    March 23, 2019: NOVA Board Meeting, AH Office, Alexandria, VA.

    March 24-26, 2019: Legislative Committee Member Linda Droste and NOVA Director Ernestine Goode attended and represented NOVA at the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) Program, Key Bridge Marriott, DC. This three-day event provided nurses selected by different nurses’ organization to network, meet legislative representatives and advocate for important issues related to the nursing workforce. There were about seventy-five nurses in attendance for the event. They learned key steps to advance legislative issues at the grassroots level by distinguished leaders in Healthcare Legislature and Government Relations. Some of the attendees visited members of Congress and some met with their Congressional Representatives. This was a very rewarding and educational experience.

    March 27, 2019: Webinar: “The Daily Plan (NCPS)”, presented by Wendy Morrish.

    April 1, 2019: NOVA’s new website was launched successfully. It has a newly branded, professional look and provides easier access to information, membership, webinars and event registration. The website offers new, exciting features including: On-demand Webinars, Monthly Dues Payments, Member Profile, and NOVA’s 39th Annual Meeting.

    April 10, 2019: NOVA submitted testimony for a hearing before the Senate VA Committee on “Implementing the Veterans Community Care Program.” NOVA’s views centered on staffing, funding and what appears to be a double-standard of care for outside providers. NOVA asked for a delay in implementing the VCCP “until such time that access and quality standards for the program are equal for both internal and external care.”

    April 12, 2019: Webinar: “Blood Pressure Best Practices”, presented by Eileen Grubbs.

    April 15, 2019: NOVA Submits Testimony on Implementation of Veterans Community Care Program.

    May 8-9, 2019: NOVA President Thelma Roach-Serry was awarded the Sigma Gamma Omega Chapter Award of Excellence in Nursing Leadership. She was honored at the Richmond VAMC Nursing Excellence Award ceremony on May 8th, as well as during the Sigma Awards and Induction Ceremony at Virginia Commonwealth University on May 9th.

    May 15, 2019: Webinar: “Evidence Based Practice”, presented by Janet Eckhart.

    May 29, 2019: Webinar: “Providing Meaningful Input for Your Proficiency for Nurse I level 3 and II”, presented by Connie Perry-Simon.

    June 20, 2019: NOVA President Thelma Roach-Serry, President Elect Kelly Skinner and Executive Director Kristy Cohen attended the ANA Organizational Affiliates meeting, Washington, DC, at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. June 20–22, 2019. The ANA Membership Assembly is the governing and official voting body of the ANA. NOVA is an ANA Organizational Affiliate (OA) and was invited to attend the ANA Membership Assembly. ANA welcomes the collaborative efforts of other nursing organizations to help resolve issues impacting the nursing profession.

    June 14, 2019: Webinar: “Evaluating Your Input for Your Proficiency for Nurse II”, presented by Nancy Claflin.

    June 14, 2019: Voting deadline for approval of the NOVA Bylaws. The Committee and Board of Directors, in consultation with legal counsel, have carefully reviewed and revised NOVA’s Bylaws to ensure they are up to date and in compliance with the Illinois Statute where NOVA is incorporated. The 2019 revised NOVA Bylaws were approved by the NOVA Board of Directors and was presented to the NOVA membership for vote; bylaws were approved.

    June 28-29, 2019: NOVA Board Meeting – Teleconference took place on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

    July 25, 2019: Webinar: “VA LPNs/VNs: Advancement of LPNs in the VA”, presented by Carol McTavish.

    July 31, 2019: Webinar: Retirement, Social Security and TSP Withdrawals”, presented by Deborah Hatch.

    August 14, 2019: Webinar: “FEHB, FEGLI, FEDVP, FLTCI & Flexible Spending Accounts presented by Deborah Hatch.

    August 15-17, 2019: NOVA National Board members participated in the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Health Care Summit in Orlando Florida. In attendance were Ernestine Goode, Director, and Kelly Skinner, President Elect. Ernestine and Kelly collaborated among professionals committed to promoting and advocating for quality SCI/D care.

    August 24-25, 2019: NOVA President, Thelma Roach-Serry, Directors Ernestine Goode and TJ Wilson-Cox were in attendance at the 15th Nursing Alliance Leadership Academy (NALA), OMNI Hotel, Louisville, KY. This year’s meeting provided insight on leadership styles, including positive and negative attributes to each style. This knowledge helps teams to better understand the perspective and actions of a leader.

    August 28, 2019: Webinar: VA Nurses and Advance Practice Nurses: Opioids presented by Kimberlee Bayless.

    September 19, 2019: NOVA Submits Testimony on Impact: How Barriers to Hiring at VA Affect Patient Care and Access.

    September 25, 2019: Webinar: “Providing Meaningful Input for Your Proficiency for Nurse III” presented by Connie Perry-Simon.

    October 4, 2019: Webinar: “TJC Sentinel Event Alert 10/2/18 Quick Safety Issue 45: People, Processes, Health It, and Accurate Patient Identification, presented by Wendy Morrish.

    October 24-25, 2019: NOVA’s 39th Annual Meeting took place at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, Florida.  Attendees enjoyed VA specific education, obtained 12.5 continuing education credits and networked with VA peers. There were 153 attendees, 22 exhibitors and 30 poster presentations. The members took a Boat Cruise on Friday evening and enjoyed the breath-taking views of Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, Star Island, mansions, cruise ships & the skyline.

    October 24, 2019: During the opening ceremony at NOVA’s 39th Annual Meeting, introductory remarks were given by Claire Monzeglio, MSN, RN, CCRN, Chief Nurse, Acute Care at Miami VA Healthcare System; Catherine Giasson, DNP, MHA, RN, NE-BC VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System; and Taryn-Janae Wilcox-Olson, MHS, RN Black Hills VA Health Care System. Presentation of Colors Navy done by JROTC Unit of G. Holmes Braddock High School. National Anthem sung by Carolyn Dunbar, MSN, RN, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. There was a Moment of Silence for Lost Friends. Opening Remarks were also given by NOVA President Thelma Roach-Serry, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. Agenda included: Keynote Address: A Veterans Health Administration - A Leader in Healthcare delivered by Steven Lieberman, MD, MBA, FACHE, FACP, VHA-CM, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health; How Evidence-Based Practice Supports the Journey to Excellence presented by Sheila Cox Sullivan, PhD, RN, VHA-CM, Department of Veterans Affairs; Therapeutic Gardening: A Whole Health Intervention presented by Maura Farrell Miller, PhD, GNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, ACHPN, West Palm Beach VA Medical Center; Legislative Panel: Implementation of VA Mission Act with Adrian Atizado, DAV National Service & Legislative Headquarters, Megan Bland House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Christine Hill House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Cecilia McVey, BSN, MHA, VA Boston Healthcare System; Full Practice Authority Update Panel with Christine Anne Engstrom, PhD, CRNP, FAANP, Veterans Health Administration, Jennifer Ballard-Hernandez, DNP, NP, AACC, FAHA, FAANP, Cardiovascular Clinical Nurse Advisor, Office of Nursing Services (ONS); Finding Purpose presented by Ryan Curry, USMC Ret. Self-Employed and Oscar Mike Representative; The Future of the VHA: What’s at Stake for Nurses and How they Can Fight Privatization presented by Suzanne Gordon Veterans’ Healthcare Policy Institute/ Cornell University Press; The Opioid Epidemic: The Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Response to the Opioid Crisis and the Role of the Nurse presented by Claudia Kem-Bumbala, BSN, RN, CMSRN, RN-BC, Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center; VA Nursing Innovation: Reducing Non-Ventilator Associated Hospital Acquired Pneumonia presented by Shannon Munro, PhD, APRN, BC, NP, Department of Veterans Affairs; Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation presented by Emily Larimer, RN, MSN, BA, LifeSource; and ONS Town Hall with Alan Bernstein, MS, RN, Director, Workforce and Development, Office of Nursing Services.

    October 25, 2019: At the Awards Luncheon, presentations were given out by NOVA President Thelma Roach-Serry and Director Michelle Salazar. 2019 Scholarship Recipients:  Vanessa Coronel, VA Boston Healthcare System; Leilani Reynado, VA Long Beach Healthcare System; Paloma Saucedo, El Paso VA Healthcare System; Brian Knight, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center; Ahamefule Epoh, VA Long Beach Healthcare System; Danielle Alderman, Northampton VA Medical Center; and Heather Debe, El Paso VA Healthcare System. NOVA Award Winners: Yvette, Twum-Danso (President’s Award; Cynthia Solomon (APRN Excellence Award); Nacha Pierre (RN Excellence Award); Sheleda Marks (LPN/LVN Excellence Award); Chapter 362 at WJB Columbia Healthcare System (Distinguished Chapter Award); and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for Veterans Service Award. Outgoing Board Members: Immediate Past President Sharon Johnson and Membership Secretary Ron Nardi were recognized for their dedication, hard work and commitment during their years of service on the NOVA Board.

    November 20, 2019: NOVA Submits Statement for The Record Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

    The NOVA Board has bimonthly conference calls with the Office of Nursing Services. The relationship with the Office of Nursing Services has been consistent and continues to grow stronger with open discussion and information exchange.

    December 12-13, 2019: The NOVA Board of Directors met for a two-day board meeting at the Double Tree by Hilton Washington DC – Crystal City. NOVA President Thelma Roach-Serry passed the gavel to President Elect Kelly Skinner. NOVA Board members showed special recognition and appreciation to outgoing Executive Director Kristy Cohen and Immediate Past President and Nurse Emeritus, Sharon Johnson. Incoming Executive Director, Deborah Dupnik was welcomed and well received by NOVA Board members, who assumes the role and responsibilities of Executive Director on January 1, 2020.

    The officers for 2019 were: 

    President:                                             Thelma Roach-Serry (Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC   Richmond)

    President Elect:                                     Kelly Skinner (VA Boston HCS)             

    Secretary/Treasurer:                             Ruth Holmes (Office of the Medical Inspector)

    Membership Secretary:                         Ronald Nardi (VA Connecticut HCS)

    Directors:                                              Teresa Acosta (VA El Paso HCS)

                                                                Taryn-Janae Wilcox-Olson (VA Portland HCS)

    Catherine Giasson (VA Boston HCS)

    Ernestine Goode (Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC Richmond)

                                                                 Theresa Presley (VA Boston HCS)

                                                                 Michelle Salazar (VA Black Hills HCS Fort Meade)

    Immediate Past President:                   Sharon Johnson (VA Maryland HCS/Nurse Emeritus)

    Ex-Officio:                                            Cecilia McVey (VA Boston HCS)

    Executive Director:                              Deb Dupnik

  • Director of Advocacy and Government Relations       Teresa Morris

  • Membership Coordinator                      Ashley Lovelace
    Meeting Manager                                   Natascha Williams

    Meeting Coordinator:                            Genesis Guevarra