Cate Collyer-See, RN of Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center (Newton, NJ) was named Nurse of the Year by NJBIZ at its Healthcare Heroes awards ceremony last month. The award honors an individual from nursing whose job performance is considered exemplary by patients and peers.

Nominated by Donna Ahearn-Dowling, MSN, RN, C-OB, manager, Maternity, Collyer-See was recognized for implementing the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Program protocol outlined by the national Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), at Newton Medical Center. NAS occurs in newborns when a pregnant woman takes drugs such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methadone or buprenorphine, causing the infant to be born addicted to that drug. Prior to this program, babies with NAS born at the hospital were quickly transferred 45 minutes away to the high-risk neonatal intensive care unit at sister hospital, Morristown Medical Center. After conducting extensive research and pouring though case studies, she presented a solution to treat these infants at Newton Medical Center—keeping the family together physically and emotionally.

“Cate provides care with the patient at the center,” Ahearn-Dowling said. “The word ‘no’ does not cross her lips. Rather, ‘Okay let’s figure out, and how.’ In this situation, where parents are separated from their newborns, Cate saw an opportunity to make a change that truly benefits the community.”

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After a two-year long process to implement these treatment and education initiatives, and garner the complete support of the service line, Atlantic Health System, and physicians, Newton Medical Center has not transferred any infant with NAS for withdrawal symptoms, or seen any with a Finnegan score requiring medical intervention, since April 2016.  

"I am very pleased to work for such a respectful organization," said Collyer-See, who has been at Newton for seven years and in the field for 25. "I have been an OB nurse for many years and I feel very comfortable and happy working for NMC. It’s a very supportive organization. I thank everyone who helped to get this program started and all the nurses who help these babies, every day."

As a result of Collyer-See’s vision, Newton Medical Center is ahead of the curve in providing family-centered care for the treatment of babies born with opiate addiction and looks forward to sharing these best practices with other community hospitals in the coming years.

About Atlantic Health System 
Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey, is a leading non-profit health care delivery system in New Jersey. Our network includes Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ; Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ; Newton Medical Center in Newton, NJ; Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ; Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ; and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, as well as Atlantic Rehabilitation, and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. It also includes its subsidiary, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation. Atlantic Health System comprises 1,747 licensed beds, more than 14,000 employees and more than 4,000 physicians. Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; is part of Atlantic Accountable Care Organization, one of the largest ACOs in the nation, and is a member of AllSpire Health Partners.