From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It takes a special kind of empathy for a health care worker to coordinate the inner machinations of an entire system while also providing award-winning individual care.

That’s Josy Dusabe for you, Vincentian Collaborative System’s tireless 34-year-old director of clinical excellence. She spends her days helping the senior care community maintain uniformity in its clinical functions across its multiple locations and taking time to, say, chat with resident Euphemia Bayer one Monday afternoon at Vincentian de Marillac in Stanton Heights.

Ms. Dusabe’s ability to maintain her high level of care while also taking on more responsibilities made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic recently earned her national recognition, being named a 2021 Rising Star in McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards. She is one of only 17 caregivers to receive that distinction out of hundreds of nominees nationwide.

“Thank you for choosing me out of all those well-deserving women in this industry,” Ms. Dusabe said of McKnight bestowing that honor upon her. “This is not an easy industry, and it has not been an easy year. It was worse every month after month after month. … I hope there’s more people who will keep rising, because there are more rising stars making a big impact in our community.”

McKnight’s is “a business news brand serving leaders in the institutional long-term care field,” according to its website. The Rising Star award is presented to caregivers who are either younger than 40 or who have fewer than 15 years of experience. There will be a virtual reception on May 18 honoring Ms. Dusabe and the other 16 Rising Stars.

Her journey began in Rwanda, Africa, where her family was forced to flee to a refugee camp during that country’s 1994 genocide. It was there that she met volunteers with the Red Cross and WorldVision, who “really motivated me to do something in the same field.”

She eventually moved to the United States to study nursing at La Roche College, now La Roche University. In 2007, she began working at Vincentian Home in McCandless as a certified nursing assistant while still pursuing her degree. Upon graduation, she continued with Vincentian Home and later became director of nursing at Vincentian de Marillac before earning the even more prestigious title of director of clinical excellence for the whole Vincentian system.

Jennifer Pruett, Vincentian Home’s administrator, gave her that first promotion to director of nursing and also was the one who nominated her for McKnight’s Rising Star award. She praised Ms. Dusabe for the many ways she went above and beyond during the pandemic, including overseeing the administration of an impromptu COVID-19 isolation unit, helping to educate residents on infection prevention and, most recently, coordinating all vaccination sites at Vincentian’s skilled nursing facilities.

“She’s so intelligent and she’s compassionate and very humble,” Ms. Pruett said. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done, and she’s responsible for all of that.”

Naturally, Ms. Dusabe deflected the praise to her fellow Vincentian colleagues: “We have an amazing team that we work with. We all have the same vision and mission, to deliver excellent services for our residents. As challenging as it was, guidelines changing every other day … our staff and our colleagues stepped up and adapted very fast, very easily.”

Patty Embree, Vincentian Collaborative System’s chief operating officer and vice president of innovation, arrived at Vincentian soon after Ms. Dusabe became director of nursing. It was quickly clear to her that Ms. Dusabe stood out from many of her nursing peers because of “her desire to reach excellence.”

“We knew Josy had to be on our team,” Ms. Embree continued. “She has an innate ability to find technology and resources that really improve our residents’ and our families’ experiences as well as our clinical outcomes.”

Ms. Embree said the pandemic continues to be “certainly a test for all of us in our industry,” Vincentian included. Ms. Dusabe’s extra effort during a particularly bleak year was a factor in Ms. Pruett declaring that she truly “embodies what the Rising Star nomination is about.”

Although Ms. Dusabe is honored that her work is on the national radar now, she would much rather see more love given to her entire profession than to just a select few.

“If there’s anything we’ve earned through COVID, it’s that post-acute care needs more attention paid to it,” she said. “We want to provide well-deserved care to residents. You can [help us] do that by supporting us.”