Three UCI Health intensive care units receive Beacon Award for Excellence

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses recognizes high-achieving nursing teams

February 07, 2018

Three intensive care units at UC Irvine Medical Center have received the silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence, a prestigious recognition of caregivers who successfully adhere to the highest standards of acute and critical care nursing.

Bestowed upon UCI’s neurosciences, cardiac care and medical intensive care units by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the award is a significant milestone on the path to exceptional patient care and healthy work environments.

“The critical care nurses at UC Irvine Medical Center come to work each day with one goal, to provide our patients with the highest quality care available,” said Pat Patton, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer for UCI Health. “Their dedication goes beyond the bedside to advance a culture in each ICU that seeks continual improvement in patient outcomes and support for families.”

The healthcare professionals at UCI Health join other members of an exceptional community of nurses who set the standard for optimal patient care, said AACN President Christine Schulman, MS, RN, CNS, CCRN-K. Units that achieve this three-year designation meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

“The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes,” Schulman said. “Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.”

Nearly 50 nurses in the three honored UC Irvine Medical Center intensive care units hold advanced specialty certifications, including Certified Critical Care Registered Nurse, Certified Neuroscience Registered Nurse and Stroke Certified Registered Nurse.  

“It is a testament to our nurses’ dedication to their patients and to each other that they seek opportunities improve their knowledge and enhance the care they deliver to the hundreds of patients that pass through our ICUs every year,” Patton said. 

Patton said the collaboration and leadership of nurse managers George Orate (CCU/MICU) and Janice White (NSCU), critical care nursing director Sonia Lane and physician partners in each ICU is essential to achieve these goals and providing patients the very best care.

The neurosciences ICU is the only such unit in California with this award and only two other hospitals have achieved this recognition for their CCU/MICU in the combined unit category. 

The silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes intensive care units with policies, procedures and processes that include engagement of staff and key stakeholders. The units have evaluation and improvement strategies in place and good performance measures when compared to relevant benchmarks. Each unit met the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria:

  • Leadership structures and systems
  • Appropriate staffing and staff engagement
  • Effective communication, knowledge management and learning and development
  • Evidence-based practice and processes
  • Outcome measurement 

UCI Health nurses have a longstanding tradition of excellence in patient care. In 2003, UCI became one of the nation’s first university-affiliated medical centers to achieve Magnet Recognition from the American Nurse's Credentialing Center, widely considered the gold standard for nursing excellence. UC Irvine Medical Center was the first Magnet hospital in Orange County, the third in California and the 77th Magnet hospital in the United States. 

In 2015, the UC Irvine Medical Center’s surgical intensive care unit earned the AACN’s Gold Beacon Award for Excellence. The state-of-the-art surgical ICU provides in-hospital treatment for patients admitted through Orange County’s only combined American College of Surgeon’s verified Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, as well as patients that receive other complex surgical and critical care services.

About the Beacon Award for Excellence: Established in 2003, the Beacon Award for Excellence offers a road map to help guide exceptional care through improved outcomes and greater overall patient satisfaction. U.S. and Canadian units where patients receive their principal nursing care after hospital admission qualify for this excellence award. Units that receive the Beacon Award for Excellence meet criteria in six categories: leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, and learning and development; evidence-based practice and processes; and outcome measurement. To learn more, visit

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 200 chapters in the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. To learn more about AACN, visit

UCI Health comprises the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at physician offices throughout Orange County and at its main campus, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif., a 417-bed acute care hospital that provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation. U.S. News & World Report has listed it among America’s Best Hospitals for 17 consecutive years. UC Irvine Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program, Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, and is the primary teaching hospital for UC Irvine School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit