Nov 17, 2014

Texas Nurse Selected as Recipient of National Leadership Award

Contact: Susan Lamontagne
(631) 899-3825 or

A Texas nurse who created a successful pilot program to reduce bedsores and Medicaid costs will be recognized as one of the 10 recipients of the new Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award created by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Diana Ruiz, DNP, RN-BC, CWOCN, NE, has been at the forefront of reducing hospital readmissions and improving community health. Her work to reduce bedsores has saved the state of Texas hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid costs, as it is estimated that one bedsore costs $43,000.

“They call me the ‘pressure ulcer queen’ because we reduced the rates of bedsores in our hospital from twice the national average to zero,” said Ruiz, director of population health at Medical Center Health System in Odessa.

Ruiz started her career as a heart nurse, but soon became the only “wound and ostomy” nurse in her town. Now she is leading a new effort to reduce preventable hospital readmissions in her community. “We follow up with patients after they are discharged from the hospital and make sure they understand their medications and what they need to do. We help them fill out applications, whatever is needed to reduce barriers to better health care for them,” said Ruiz.

The Campaign for Action created the 2014 Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award to celebrate nurse leadership and the importance of efforts by nurses to improve health and health care. The award recipients have worked to help victims of sexual assault, medically fragile children, neurologically impaired individuals, and low-income women in rural areas, among others. Their work is helping to improve the quality of medical care in Vermont, protect health care workers in North Carolina, and recruit minority nursing students in Wisconsin, to name a few.

“Diana has worked tirelessly to improve health and health care for the people of Texas,” said Alexia Green, professor and dean emeritus, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “This award recognizes the incredible progress Diana’s leadership has made, especially for those who are bedridden and underserved members of the community.”

Learn about the other recipients.