Lori A. Colineri is the quintessential nurse leader who expertly blends art and science to advance nursing practice at local, regional, national, and international forums. Lori began her career as a critical care clinical nurse in 1985. Her penchant for leadership was quickly recognized by peers, interprofessional colleagues, and leaders. This recognition served as a catalyst to launch Lori on her impressive and visionary leadership journey.
Lori served in multiple progressive nursing leadership roles that have all enriched her journey in becoming the CNO for the Southern Region of RWJBH. In this role, her influence impacts nursing practice, policy, and structural and operational relationships across seven acute care hospitals, the system enterprise, and the state. RWJBH serves over 5 million people annually and has a workforce of more than 35,000 employees, one-third of whom are nurses. Lori is responsible for an annual budget of over $800 million.
Lori is a zealous lifelong learner. She worked hard on achieving both formal and informal educational goals, embracing experiences and opportunities in hospitals and higher learner organizations throughout New Jersey and the US. During this professional journey, Lori worked with many nurse leaders who mentored her along the way. None were as memorable as the special relationship she formed with Dr. Richard Hader, whom this award memorializes. Dr. Hader helped Lori become the leader and visionary she is today.
We met Lori in 2014 when she became the senior vice president and CNO of the former Robert Wood Johnson Health System (RWJHS). The system was inspired by her clear vision, adaptability, openness, energy, and enthusiasm. She worked to transform the work environment for nurses and employees, and improve outcomes for patients and families across the healthcare continuum. Before joining RWJHS, Lori was the CNO of Riverview Medical Center. During Lori's tenure there, she was responsible for the merger of three large organizations. Shortly after joining RWJHS, Lori championed the merger between Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) and Somerset Medical Center, now known as Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (RWJS). In 2016, Lori was instrumental in the merger between Barnabas Health and RWJHS that formed RWJBH, New Jersey's largest healthcare provider.
Positive work environment
Under Lori's leadership, RWJBH developed a contemporary model of nursing practice that helps nurses navigate the complex healthcare system. This model strongly relies on shared decision-making, which empowers staff to impact healthcare in the 21st century. Lori consistently works to leverage the nursing team's diverse backgrounds to foster a collaborative, supportive work environment that places patients and families first.
Lori's active leadership in the rigorous Magnet® document submission and site survey process resulted in a fifth Magnet recognition for RWJUH—one of seven organizations worldwide to receive Magnet recognition five consecutive times—and a second Magnet recognition for RWJS. One of the exemplars awarded to RWJUH during its Magnet redesignation was based on outstanding practice environment nurse satisfaction scores. Lori and her team work to support and promote a positive work environment. RWJS was also recognized for exemplary practice.
Lori also supported a clinical nurse's desire to start a transgender family support group. This is the first group in the region to help family members understand, cope, and accept loved ones who've transitioned or plan to transition. She ensured that there was adequate leadership support and resources to fill this important need in the community. Lori serves as the executive sponsor for the LGBTQ business related workgroup to reduce healthcare disparities among this at-risk population.
Lori's focus and collaborative leadership style have resulted in significant improvements in safety and quality outcomes. For example, inpatient hospital falls decreased by 36%, central line-associated bloodstream infections decreased by 58%, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections decreased by 76% since Lori assumed her role at RWJUH. She aptly applies her Lean Black Belt certification to plan, implement, evaluate, and sustain innovative strategies to solve problems common to healthcare organizations. In 2017, she created a discharge hospitality suite, which reduced discharge times by 34 minutes, decreased turnaround times by 53.6 minutes, improved patient satisfaction discharge scores, and reduced hospital readmission rates by 46% when compared with traditional inpatient discharges.
Lori understands the critical priority for professional development and its complexities. She helped implement the Center for Professional Development, Innovation, and Research, which is now imbedded into each of the 11 hospitals in RWJBH. This department includes over 80 clinical nurse specialists and clinical nurse educators who are responsible for ensuring that staff professional development needs are being met while utilizing the most up-to-date innovation and research.
Most recently, Lori was instrumental in obtaining a $5 million gift from the Betty Wold Johnson Foundation to enhance high-fidelity simulation and education for nurses across the health system. The newly established center serves as a model for state-of-the-art education and innovation for the state of New Jersey, where thousands of nurses develop competency and expertise in their nursing practice.
Lori developed the RWJUH nursing scholarship program in 2017 for ancillary staff to enter nursing school and for nurses to continue their formal education to obtain baccalaureate, graduate, and terminal degrees in nursing. Eight scholarships were awarded during the inaugural year, and 19 were awarded in 2018. Lori also obtained financial support to implement a four-level clinical ladder for unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP). She worked with the nursing shared governance council and UAP council to develop this innovative program to reward and recognize the key role of UAPs in improving the work environment.
Lori collaborated with Rutgers University's School of Nursing to obtain a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support and develop minority paraprofessionals on their journey to becoming RNs. This sustained program's merits have been recognized across the country in scholarly presentations and publications.
Lori oversees and advances the clinical curriculum at the New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School. The school has operated for over 20 years and has graduated up to 40 minority students annually, with 100% of them being admitted to college. Her passion for the development of both minority and/or socially and economically disadvantaged children in the New Brunswick community is evident in all she does. Lori's sponsorship resulted in the allocation of additional RWJBH resources for advisement, clinical experiences, and employment opportunities to advance the school's mission.
In her role as a visiting professor for the Rutgers School of Nursing, Lori has developed and implemented several programs that bridge the gap between academia and practice. Lori ensures a strong relationship with Rutgers that includes joint appointments and collaboration on research and innovative practices. Lori believes that engaging in nursing research is essential to nursing practice and she values the collaborative projects between Rutgers and RWJBH.
She collaborated with Rutgers to help develop the first evidence-based practice (EBP) academy at RWJBH—a 12-month program for which any nurse in the system can apply. Academy candidates develop EBP projects that impact nursing practice at the local and/or system level.
As a visionary leader, Lori developed the RWJBH nursing research collaborative that brings nurses and nurse scientists together from around the system to set a nursing research agenda to help move the practice forward for the system's 10,000 nurses and beyond. This research agenda is planned, implemented, and evaluated in collaboration with Rutgers, which helps maintain academic rigor and ensure that the results are disseminated outside the walls of the system.
In 2017, Lori was instrumental in developing the RWJBH professional nursing practice council. Clinical nurse representatives from each system hospital evaluate the latest evidence, collaborate with subject matter experts, make practice decisions, and adopt policies to improve outcomes. Lori believes that clinical nurses are in the best position to evaluate practice, policy, and workflow.
Lori led the first RWJBH nursing strategic plan, which laid the foundation for developing and transforming the future of nursing in the system. Nurse executives and clinical nurses participated in strategic planning sessions at each hospital in the system. This plan allowed nurses at all levels to have a clear vision on how to advance the system's mission. The plan includes seven pillars: clinical excellence, professional development, research, education, innovation, leadership development, and financial stability. Each pillar has goals and associated metrics.
Lori is an influential leader in healthcare initiatives at the state and national level. She's a vocal proponent of the CARE Act of New Jersey, an AARP-endorsed law that mandates caregivers are educated to ensure their home healthcare needs are being met. Lori partnered with AARP and collaborated on AARP's behalf to set the standard for a successful national implementation of the CARE act. She sits on the boards of the Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses and the Organization of Nurse Leaders of New Jersey's Political Action Committee. She's also a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American College of Healthcare Executives' CNO constituency group.
Understanding the crucial role that nurses play in shared governance and shared decision-making, Lori once led an all-day retreat for RWJBH's Southern Region to help clinical nurses, nurse leaders, and professional practice council facilitators develop their decision-making skills. Subsequently, shared governance participation, support, and effectiveness significantly increased. Monmouth Medical Center, a RWJBH hospital, was recently certified by the Forum for Shared Governance due to its high-performing shared governance structures.
Lori's mentoring activities extend beyond US borders. Since 2014, she's served as a mentor to the nursing leadership team from St. Luke's Medical Center—Global City in the Philippines to support their quest to become a Magnet-recognized hospital. Lori advocated for visas and mentored seven nurse leaders and nurse educators from St. Luke's on two occasions for a total of 6 weeks. In 2018, St. Luke's reached a significant achievement when it was recognized as a Pathway to Excellence® hospital.
In addition to Lori's work with St. Luke's, she's been very active in supporting and advocating for the Philippine Nurses Association and its initiatives to impact nursing development and community service nationally and internationally. In 2016, Lori was recognized for her support of the Filipino-American community and contribution to nursing practice when she was awarded the Global Nursing Leadership Award. In 2018, Lori was awarded the Women of Distinction Award by the Executive Women of New Jersey for her outstanding and visionary leadership.
Recognizing the challenges that clinical nurses face when assuming entry-level leadership positions, Lori developed the emerging nurse leader course. This year-long program is designed to provide education and mentorship for novice nurse leaders to acquire the necessary leadership competencies for success. The course puts a strong emphasis on change management and financial/business acumen. Lori serves as a faculty member for the course and as a mentor to nurses in the cohort.
Lori has mentored many nurse leaders and multiple graduate students from New Jersey and around the country. Her latest mentoree from the University of Alabama requested Lori because of her national reputation as an outstanding leader with expertise in nursing finance.
Having the vision
Lori A. Colineri strategically and enthusiastically creates a shared vision for excellence. She's an innovative leader who inspires nurses, interprofessional colleagues, and staff to make sustainable improvements in clinical practice, safety and quality outcomes, and the work environment across the care continuum. Honoring Lori highlights the spirit of the Richard Hader Visionary Leader Award.