For her commitment to the profession of nursing and to her patients, Seton Hall University and the College of Nursing were proud to present Sheila Lenihan Walsh ’69, APRN, BC, with the 2012 Alumni Service Award at the Many Are One Alumni Gala in June 2012.
What words best describe this fiery red-head? “Compassionate,” “professional,” “a true family advocate” and “a change agent” are a few that come to mind.
Walsh earned her B.S.N. from Seton Hall University College of Nursing and her M.A. with a major in parent-child nursing and a minor in education from New York University. She was always a leader even as a Seton Hall student, serving as the president of the Student Government Association. Walsh was recently honored by her alma mater as the recipient of the College of Nursing’s 2010 Haley Award. She also spends time as an adjunct professor at the College.
Walsh has devoted her professional nursing career to the care of pediatric patients and their families. She has developed and led many innovative programs to meet the needs of pediatric patients, from “Benji the Bandage Bear,” which helps children cope with the stress of hospitalization, to the safe use of patient-controlled analgesia in a family-centered approach to manage the pain of pediatric patients. In addition, she developed a variety of support programs to address the needs of families who lost children to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, those with perinatal losses and those with children who have asthma and adolescents with scoliosis. She designed and implemented the first program in New Jersey that enabled parents to accompany their children into the operating room.
Walsh has been recognized throughout the state for her clinical excellence, receiving the NJ State Nurses Association C.A.R.E. Award for Nursing Excellence in Clinical Nursing Practice in 1994 and a certificate of accomplishment from the NJ Department of Health for “Excellence in Nursing Practice” in 1990. Her articles have been published in peer reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Nursing, Chronic Care Nursing and Home Healthcare Nurse. In addition, she has a chapter published in Pediatric Palliative Care.
Currently, Walsh is the director of program services for the Circle of Life Children’s Center (COLCC). The COLCC is a free-standing non-profit program, targeting children who need interdisciplinary palliative care services for their life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses. The program’s neonatal palliative care services are the first of their kind in New Jersey. Hundreds of children and their families have benefitted from receiving a full spectrum of interdisciplinary coordinated services for end-of-life care in their communities with quality services and dignity. Walsh states, “I enjoy helping and empowering parents to be more involved in meaningful ways for the benefit of their children and their families – ways that help them partner with the healthcare team.”
Those who know and work with Walsh know that she never wants to be the center of attention. Over the years, she has worked in her quiet, resourceful collaborative way to bring about many changes. She has worked at numerous hospitals throughout New Jersey, including University Hospital in Newark, Overlook Medical Center in Summit and the former United Hospital in Newark. As she states, “I don’t just want to improve care for one child and family, but to change the systems of care to better serve all children and families so they receive quality care that is cost effective.”
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