Gerard honored

Purdue Calumet nursing leader
honored by statewide hospital association

Peggy Gerard, professor and dean of Purdue University Calumet’s College of Nursing and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, recently received the Indiana Hospital Association’s (IHA) 2013 Award of Merit.

Outstanding leader

The award, presented during the association’s annual meeting at Indianapolis, recognizes significant contributions to hospitals and health care in Indiana.

Gerard, of Plainfield, Ill., was nominated for the award by JoAnn Birdzell, chief executive officer of St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and a member of the Indiana Hospital Association board of directors.

“Peggy is an outstanding leader in health care in Northwest Indiana,” Birdzell said. “It is truly a tribute to Purdue University Calumet and to the staff with which she works that she has won this award.”

Birdzell noted that Gerard developed the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition, whose vision is to make regional health care among the safest in the nation. One of the coalition’s most noteworthy projects is standardization of color coding for patient wristbands, which began as a student design project at Purdue Calumet.

“This initiative was approved by the IHA board for the whole state of Indiana, and now all hospitals in the state have color coded bands for patient safety, which is quite an accomplishment,” Birdzell said. “Peggy has worked to implement best practices with just about all the hospitals in Northwest Indiana.”

Humbled by the recognition

Gerard said she was humbled by the recognition among her health care peers.

“This award recognizes the wonderful work of our faculty and students,” Gerard said. “I am proud to work among the finest faculty who guide students in fulfilling their educational goals, within the College of Nursing and throughout Purdue University Calumet. We are pleased to partner with hospitals and clinics throughout the community where our students gain a variety of hands-on experiences.”

Since 2008, Purdue Calumet student groups have partnered with 22 hospitals and clinical service partners and have completed approximately 136 projects, most of them focused on improving quality and safety. According to Gerard, “these projects and the clinical liaisons have taught our students far more than we could have ever imagined.”

Peggy Gerard accepts award.

Peggy Gerard accepts award.

“Our students not only learn how to use evidence to solve clinical problems, but they learn communication skills, project management, teamwork and collaboration,” Gerard said. “Most importantly, they learn how nursing can improve patient outcomes and also how difficult it is to implement change in complex organizations.”

During her more than 30-year career with Purdue University Calumet, Gerard has served the university, Northwest Indiana hospitals and the healthcare industry regionally, statewide and nationally in a variety of leadership roles. She has been Professor and Dean of the College of Nursing at Purdue Calumet (formerly the School of Nursing) since 2002. She was appointed Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost in September, a role she previously served from January through June, 2008. She currently serves as treasurer and co-chair of the Education Committee for the Indiana Center for Nursing and is on the board of directors for St. Catherine Hospital and Hartsfield Village.

Gerard earned a Ph.D. in nursing from Rush University in Chicago, a master’s degree in medical-surgical nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rush University. She began her career as an intensive care nurse, has conducted research in the areas of patient education and health literacy, and maintains her Indiana registered nurse license.