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Chicagoland Super Star Community and Public Health Nurses - Now Is Your Chance to Win $25,000

VNA Foundation Seeking Nominations for 2008 Awards to Celebrate Exemplary

Nurses Who Support Chicagoland's Medically Underserved Communities

CHICAGO, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Last summer, when Sally Lemke lost her nursing job providing prenatal care to pregnant women in the city's Austin community, she still felt like a super star. That's because the week before she learned of her layoff, she was recognized for her commitment and passion for community health nursing and named the $25,000 winner of the VNA Foundation's 2007 Super Star in Community Nursing Award. Lemke also didn't realize the profound effect she would have shining a light on the challenges of her profession. Her layoff made front page news and community health professionals throughout Chicagoland reached out to thank Lemke for her courage and for raising awareness for the often under-paid and under-appreciated nurses that provide much-needed medical care to the city's underserved communities. Lemke's story has a happy ending. Today, she is happily working for Chicago Lights Center for Whole Health at Fourth Presbyterian Church in partnership with the Rush University College of Nursing, doing exactly what she loves: providing grassroots wellness care to the women who need it most.

There are thousands of nurses just like Sally Lemke working to make sure the underserved communities get the medical attention they desperately need. As the sponsor of the Super Star in Community Nursing Award, the VNA Foundation is now accepting nominations, through May 8th, for its 2008 awards. Nominated individuals must work in community/public health and demonstrate excellence in direct nursing care, exceptional client advocacy, and/or innovation and creativity that improves the health of the people they serve. Nominations can now be submitted online at The 2008 winner will be announced in June and will receive a $25,000 cash prize. At that time, an undisclosed number of finalists will also be announced, each receiving a smaller cash prize of up to $5,000.

For the past seven years, the VNA Foundation has honored local nurses to recognize the service that public health/community health nurses provide, highlight the value of nursing in the community and -- most importantly -- help attract young people to the profession to create new "super stars" while decreasing the nursing shortage in our city and the nation.

"This award is intended to showcase the unwavering commitment of community health nurses and the vital role they play in providing much-needed care to the medically underserved in local communities," said Rob DiLeonardi, Executive Director, VNA Foundation of Chicago. "Community health nurses work long hours for less pay than many other nursing specialties. It is important that we recognize public health nurses for their important contributions and dedication to their patients. We are very proud to honor these nurses -- they truly are 'super stars' in every sense of the word."

The Need for Awareness

The nation's public health care crisis is constantly under debate with an estimated 43.6 million people in the United States, or 14.8 percent of the population, without health insurance. Public health nurses in Chicago unselfishly care for the thousands of medically underserved here in our very own communities, and they play a vital role in serving the needs of the un- and under-insured population despite often challenging and difficult situations. In its seventh year, the 2008 VNA Foundation of Chicago's "Super Star" award will recognize one winner and several finalists in the hope of highlighting their many contributions while simultaneously shining a light on the need for more nurses in Chicago to choose community health nursing as a career.

About the VNA Foundation

From 1890 to 1995, The Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago employed its own nurses and other health professionals to provide health care to the underprivileged. Since 1996, The VNA Foundation has operated exclusively as a grant making foundation, giving financial support to nonprofit organizations offering home- and community-based care to the medically underserved. In fiscal year 2007, the VNA Foundation distributed 59 grants totaling $2,083,469 in support of its mission to increase home and community-based health services for Chicago's medically underserved. Recipients of the grants include a variety of agencies providing health care and health services to the homeless, the working poor and the disenfranchised. For more information on the VNA Foundation and its Super Star in Community Nursing Award, please visit

SOURCE VNA Foundation
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