The Division of General Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists Team — represented (center, from left) by Julianna Schantz-Dunn, Amaka Onwuzurike and Khady Diouf — were one of 27 teams honored during the 2023 Pillars of Excellence Awards by Brigham President Robert S.D. Higgins and Rosemary Sheehan, chief human resources officer for Mass General Brigham.

As a unit coordinator in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), Cedric Depestre is always at the ready, especially when an emergency occurs — a point not lost on his nurse colleagues, who regard him as a “phenomenal” team member known for his proactive support of unit staff and heartfelt commitment to patients and families.

“Cedric has been a phenomenal unit coordinator for the Medical ICU and excels at anticipating the nurses’ needs,” wrote a colleague who nominated him for a Pillars of Excellence Award for his outstanding contributions. “He demonstrates great organizational skills, helping ensure we are ready for each patient. Cedric is often the first face a family will meet when entering the MICU. Families are often dealing with the worst days of their lives, and he greets them with compassion and poise.”

Depestre was among the 61 individuals and 27 teams honored during the 27th annual Pillars of Excellence Awards ceremony, which returned to an in-person format for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began three years ago. This year’s awards were presented to honorees throughout the Brigham family, including those who represent our Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

“I’m thrilled to be with you here in person — a milestone after several years of entirely virtual events due to the pandemic,” said Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and executive vice president at Mass General Brigham, during the event. “It’s truly inspirational to see the collaboration between different groups to achieve a common goal. As we say at the Brigham, we’re stronger together. Thank you for your dedication to our patients, to our community and to each other.”

Supporting Patients, Families and Each Other

Another nominee this year was Tramaine Sanders-Palmer, an administrative assistant in Engineering, who assumed additional responsibilities for her team during a period of transition in the department.

“Tramaine is the perfect example of a great team player. She is a reminder that our duties sometimes go beyond our role,” her nominator wrote. “She showed up on time, with a smile, never said no and got the job done. She was a tremendous support to our department, and we are truly thankful to have her on our team.”

Theresa Oduol, a research assistant in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, was commended for her work to strengthen her division’s contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Through her role as a co-chair on the Department of Medicine Diversity Council’s DE&I Committee for her division, she increased the volume of applicants to the team’s summer diversity internship program by 444 percent, volunteered to serve as a mentor and internship coordinator, and hosts recruitment strategies for diverse talent in faculty positions, among a host of other DE&I work.

Theresa Oduol

When a new colleague who recently moved to Boston expressed her anxiety about being new to the city, Oduol reached out to other research assistants to create a welcome guide to Boston, covering everything from the housing market to dinner locales.

“It is an honor to know and to work with Theresa, and I aspire to be everything that she emulates and embodies,” her nominator wrote. “She is not only a co-worker but also a mentor.”

Nurse practitioner Callie Siegert, MSN, AGNP-C, team lead of the oncology-focused branch of the Palliative Care Consult Service, earned the most individual nominations this year of any honoree, with 10 colleagues writing to share their reflections on her selfless and unwavering dedication to patients, families and colleagues.

“She brings unique and special characteristics to her role and is the most flexible, dedicated person I work with on our clinical team on a regular basis,” one nominator wrote. “Every time I come to clinical service, she asks — despite having her own complex and busy workload — how she can help me, how my day is going and what she could be doing better.”

Outstanding Teamwork

Among the team honorees this year was the Employee COVID-19 Antigen Testing Kit Distribution Team, who were tasked with distributing test kits to staff when the first Omicron variant peaked in January 2022.

“From the beginning, all team members knew the goal and the impact this would have on ensuring our workforce felt safe during the height of another COVID wave,” their nominator wrote.

Faced with the immense task of distributing over 10,000 testing kits to employees as fast as possible, the team successfully leveraged an MGB QR-code scanning system that streamlined the process and allowed them to rapidly deliver the kits in less than two weeks.

“Like many efforts during COVID, all members who were involved in the employee antigen test kit distribution team took on the responsibility in addition to their normal ones during an already busy time,” the nominator wrote.

The Operating Room (OR) Central Processing Department (CPD) Biomedical Engineering Team was recognized for their remarkable collaboration to overcome challenges during a period of expansion and transition.

“They leveraged experience, energy, resolve, understanding and good cheer to provide stellar service during a markedly straining time,” their nominator wrote. “From resolving critical video integration errors to locating just the right screw size for repairing a surgeon’s reading glasses, OR-CPD Biomedical Engineering is always there to help — as a team.”