Mollie Kettle

Mollie Kettle

Mollie Kettle


Clinical Lead
Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit DMP 7 West
Duke University Hospital


The Fuchs Family Award for Excellence in Innovation
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The DUKE HEART CENTER would like to express its admiration and heartfelt thanks to Duke Nurses for what they do every day to care for our patients, their loved ones and each other.
Duke University Hospital logo
Congratulations to Duke University Hospital’s 2021 Friends of Nursing Excellence Award Winners


In a time of fear and unknown we call COVID, Mollie was there without hesitation to assist her patients anyway she could. She innovatively helped families communicate with their loved ones by launching the “iPad Project” in her unit and the Cardiac ICU, when visitors were not allowed in the hospital. She has worked diligently to improve the safety and quality of care for her patients, and has brought great honor to her unit and the hospital system. Mollie sets a great example by truly living through Duke’s Values.


She is a Clinical Lead in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit and helps lead our team of over 150 nurses. One of the first committees she began leading was the unit’s Supply Management Committee, a unit-specific team aimed at reducing costs to both the patient and the department by optimizing availability and variety of supplies stocked and reducing waste. Two projects this nominee led through the committee include the “Bedside Cart Revision Project,” which standardized and streamlined bedside carts to help with efficiency and ensure emergency preparedness in patient rooms. Second, the “Disposable EKG Leads Implementation” was a trial and implementation for the use of disposable EKG leads for infection prevention. She presented the committee’s work at the 2019 Duke Health Quality and Safety Conference titled, “Unit supply availability:  Staff compliance leads to improved patient safety.”


This nurse was instrumental in our unit receiving the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ Gold Level Beacon Award, the highest honor awarded by the AACN. Duke is one of just 11 ICU’s in the United States to have received Gold recognition. In order to receive this award, documentation showing excellence in six categories for healthy work environment standards had to be validated:  Leadership Structures and Systems; Appropriate Staffing and Staff Engagement; Effective Communication, Knowledge Management and Learning Development; Evidence-Based Practice and Processes; and Outcome Measurements. The recognition is valid for three years and meets national criteria for Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and the National Healthcare Award. Our unit was recognized at the 2020 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) and with a write-up in AACN’s Bold Voices.


As we braced ourselves for the impact that we knew COVID-19 would have, this nominee knew that visitation would become a problem for our patients’ loved ones. She and I began chatting about methods to support loved ones in being part of the care team, despite their inability to visit. When our strict “no visitation” policy went into effect, this nominee was ready to take action. She drafted a SBAR proposal to use iPads to facilitate virtual visitation using FaceTime or a similar platform. On the day this was proposal was delivered to our senior leaders, it was approved, along with the use of three hospital-issued iPads. We were tasked to pilot the “program” in the two ICUs in the Heart Center, finesse it, and then share with other areas. Over the next three days (including a weekend), this nominee drafted workflows, communication tools and scripts, and data collection tools. Simultaneously, she recruited help from both ICUs to act as “facilitators” to ensure the communication with loved ones was happening consistently.


She is part of our unit-level Research Committee, which conducted a research project to study, implement, and evaluate fast-track extubation in post-cardiac surgery patients. The team, comprised of nurses, anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and surgeons, used a pre-post improvement science approach to evaluate the use of an evidence-based Fast-track Extubation (FTE) protocol in stable post-operative cardiac surgery patients. The nominee’s specific role was data collection, which involved performing chart reviews and entering data. Additionally, she had great participation in discussions related to process, performing initial research, and writing multiple presentations and publications. This work led to a 24% increase in patients extubated within six hours of surgery, which is the national standard. The nominee’s contributions were recognized by the seven presentations that she was included in. The fast-track extubation project was presented at local, regional, and national conferences.


This nominee led efforts to organize an Honor Walk for a patient at end of life, whose family chose to donate organs. Because this patient had received care at DUH, the staff would want to honor the patient’s strength and courage. The nominee engaged Palliative Care, members of multiple nursing teams, Operations Administrator, Respiratory Therapy, Operating Room staff, security, Chaplain Services, and nursing leadership. A photographer was present, at the family’s request, to capture the moment where their loved one was transported to the Operating Room for organ procurement to save multiple people’s lives. The hallways were lined with staff from the ICU all the way down to the Operating Room. The patient was covered in a favorite quilt, and the family followed, playing the patient’s favorite music. Not only was this a display of the nominee’s caring for others, it was a display of the entire hospital caring for this single patient in a way that the family would remember as celebratory, despite the loss of their loved one.


This nominee is a young leader with extreme potential to continue supporting bedside nurses in the improvement of patient care, as evidenced by her innovative and creative approaches.


Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021