Moffat County adds new Nightingale Award recipient to list of area’s best nurses |

Moffat County adds new Nightingale Award recipient to list of area’s best nurses

Megan O'Toole explains wound care as part of the Stop the Bleed table at the community health fair. O’Toole recently received the prestigious Nightingale Award for Western Colorado.
Sasha Nelson

For people sick and suffering, there are angels who walk among us, we call them nurses.

In Colorado, the annual Nightingale Awards recognize the very best nurses as selected by their peers. Twenty-four nurses from western Colorado were nominated for the regional award which went to Memorial Regional Health Nurse Megan O’Toole who is from Baggs, Wyoming.

“I’m still in disbelief,” O’Toole said of her selection. “I want to make a difference and save lives. I hope this award raises awareness of what nurses do.”

O’Toole received the prestigious award at a gala held March 30 in Grand Junction in the category of advocacy, as a result of her work encouraging students to use seatbelts.

Nurse Megan O’Toole was one of 24 Western Slope nurses nominated for the 2019 Nightingale awards. She received the top honor at a gala held in Grand Junction March 30th, for her advocacy work. She now qualifies for a chance to receive the Colorado Nightingale Luminary Award — the highest recognition that a Colorado nurse can be given.
Sasha Nelson

“Every year we’d see at least one person who died, when wearing a seatbelt would have saved him,” she said.

She realized that by educating young people, she might reach the entire community.

“I also saw that when my son bugged his Dad about wearing a seatbelt, it made a difference,” O’Toole said.

She initiated the Seatbelt Challenge in which she worked with students in Craig schools. She started with high school students in the first week of school, then presented information at each elementary school.

In addition to personal contact, O’Toole created information sheets with statistics, passed out by volunteers during events. She also sought community partners with billboards around Craig willing to post slogans including “Be protected, not projected,” and “That seatbelt looks good on you.”

O’Toole noted that a survey three months before the seatbelt challenge showed about 50% seatbelt use among students. A survey three months after the education effort showed 80% student use of seatbelts.

Now, O’Toole is expanding the Seatbelt Challenge. She is planning to present the project in her home community — the Little Snake River Valley.  The presentation will include an appearance by a young woman from Utah who was thrown from a vehicle in an accident, and who is now paralyzed.

She is also helping lead the local “Stop the Bleed” campaign to cultivate grassroots efforts to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

O’Toole was nominated for a Nightingale award by MRH Vice President of Nursing Amy Peck.

Peck attended the gala in Grand Junction, along with members of O’Toole’s family.

O’Toole and her husband Eamon were helicoptered to Grand Junction, compliments of Classic Medical.

At the gala to cheer her on were her parents, Jeff and Georgia Stocklin; sister Halli Caines and husband Cameron; and in-laws Pat and Sharon O’Toole.

Sharon O’Toole contributed to this report.

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