Madelyn Torakis, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director, Nursing Excellence and Magnet Program – Henry Ford Hospital

September 23, 2013. My first day as an employee of Henry Ford Hospital (HFH). I was hired into this amazing organization to help lead the efforts to achieve Magnet® designation, the highest honor and recognition for nursing excellence in the world. I worked hand in hand with Gwen Gnam, Chief Nursing Officer and VP Patient Care Services, on this journey. We built programs from the ground up, revised existing programs and reinforced a culture of excellence, autonomy and pride amongst our nursing staff. Finally, in February 2019, we submitted all the supporting documents to the Magnet Recognition Program for review by a team of appraisers. We waited for a response, submitted additional clarification documents and waited some more. The next step in the process involved a site visit by the appraiser team, which we were finally granted in January 2020. It was an amazing three days! The appraisers were wowed with everyone they spoke with—nurses, physicians, support staff. All this took place before we even thought about or even really heard about the coronavirus. Although it was only a few short months ago, it feels like it was in another lifetime.

After the site visit, we waited again, this time to receive a call from the Magnet office informing us that the Commission on Magnet Recognition wanted to call us publicly to announce their decision. That call came to us on Thursday, March 12. We arranged for our official call to take place on Friday, March 20, at 9:15 a.m. We were understanding more about the coronavirus by this point and the guidelines indicated gatherings of no more than 250 people. We had dreamed of this day for 6½ years and we knew that the Buerki auditorium could easily accommodate that number of people. After all, we had planned a big celebration! By Monday, March 16, however, gatherings of 250 people or less was changed to 50 people or less, and by Wednesday, March 18, it was down to no more than 10! We decided that the coronavirus was not going to rob us of our joy, so we gathered 10 of us on the stage in the Buerki (maintaining social distancing), invited people to join us on the conference call and live-streamed it on the SONIFI TVs on the units. We received the great news we had hoped for and the 10 of us celebrated as if there were 100 of us in the room! We were finally being recognized as a Magnet hospital—something we had known we were all along!

Very quickly after our designation call, HFH went into full COVID-19 survival mode. It has been challenging to say the least, but I can honestly say that we have proven over and over again why we are a Magnet hospital. Leadership, teamwork, resiliency, advocacy, autonomy, compassion, innovation, dedication and tenacity. These are only some of the words to describe the culture of Henry Ford Hospital. We know that together we will make it through to the other side of this. And when we do, there will be much to celebrate (with a gathering of more than 250 people)!

A note from one of the Magnet appraisers:

“You all have been in my thoughts especially as I see all the stories of what HFH is facing during this pandemic and all that you are doing to care for the people of Detroit. It was an honor and a privilege to visit your organization and I am so happy for all of you. My very best wishes to you, Gwen, Ronnie and all the fabulous nurses at HFH.”

Click below to hear Madelyn’s story firsthand.


Now it’s your turn! Click here to submit your COVID story!