For almost 40 years as the Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations at Montefiore Health System in New York, Elodia Mercier, RNC, MS, has been advancing patient care and creating and defining new roles for fellow nurses and other providers.

In June 2021, Montefiore was evaluating performance improvement initiatives to enhance patient experiences and alleviate flow challenges and decided to open a discharge lounge. The idea of a discharge lounge isn’t new, but being assisted by the clinician with whom patients just bonded is.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-elodia-mercier

Mercier was chosen to open the discharge lounge and met the challenges of a crowded emergency department (Montefiore is amongst the busiest in the country) and limited beds for admissions. Under Mercier’s supervision, the lounge, intended to assist 10 patients daily, quickly increased to 30-40. Over 27 months, Montefiore’s Discharge Lounge received more than 678 patients per month. On average, patients stay for approximately 35 minutes. This time spent in the lounge has equated to more than 10,800-bed hours saved, the equivalent of 62 additional beds – a total game-changer, particularly for an urban hospital. Mercier showcased this success at the New York Organization for Nursing Leadership last September.

In addition to the discharge lounge, Mercier developed Montefiore’s SHHH (Silent Hospitals Help Healing) program and other vital initiatives. She is also an active participant in the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s mentorship program, which pairs successful alums/trustees and friends of the college with bright, dedicated students eager to gain skills and insight that will allow them to channel their passion and talents into successful, satisfying careers.

As a recipient of a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) award for her participation in community affairs in 2011, Mercier is an important nursing leader, and we’re proud to profile her as part of the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. The series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and are making transformational impacts in nursing.

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Meet Elodia Mercier, RNC, MS, Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations at Montefiore Health System in New York.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As a nurse of nearly 40 years at Montefiore Health System, I’m always focused on the people we serve regarding safety, getting well and their patient experience. My role as Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations combines these three aspects, specifically focusing on the discharge process and ensuring this takes place in a calm and comfortable environment.

Our Henry and Lucy Moses Hospital Discharge Lounge is the last impression patients have when leaving our hospital, and we want it to be a good one. I’m focused on this positive experience and memory for patients and their families, ensuring all needs are met and leaving them as fully satisfied customers.

How long have you worked in nursing?

July 23, 1984, to present. I started as a part-time nursing attendant at Montefiore while attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent from 1980-1984.

Why did you become a nurse? 

I became a nurse because I like helping people. Also, when my great-grandmother was ill in this very hospital, I did not understand what was happening to her. This memory stayed with me, and in my mind, I knew I wanted to make a difference for patients and their families, helping them better understand what is happening in terms of care and being able to teach and help heal. Last but not least, I was the first in my extended family to attend and graduate college. This was important to me, coming from a Caribbean /Afro-American Hispanic background.

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What are the essential attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Being a transformational leader. This means keying into the emotional intelligence of the people you lead. It also means finding a way to help people best understand their roles and values and the importance these factors play in helping our patients. Each person learns and processes things differently. A good or transformational leader finds ways to help each person on the team understand how they process information and produce the best outcome. I believe in leading by example and rewarding staff, even if it’s a simple acknowledgment or a thank you birthday card sent to them at home outlining their contributions throughout the year as a nurse on the unit. I have always believed that happy staff leads to happy patients and great outcomes. A good leader listens and values their team.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

Being a nursing leader to me means supporting my teams by way of education, accountability, and pride. I am proud of a few things, so it is a challenge to name just one.

-I am proud of having the highest consecutive year-after-year Press Ganey scores on my units as a nurse manager.

-I am proud of having the highest 365 degree and staff satisfaction surveys.

-I am proud of the creation of the Silent Hospital Help Healing Program that I initiated at Montefiore for noise reduction.

-I am proud that I established the motto now commonly used around the campus, “Happy Monday” or “Happy Friday.” I intended to help nurses and anyone else focus on the good things in life and all the good things they may have accomplished and still hope to achieve.

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Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

I started as a staff RN in 1984 in the Neurology unit of Montefiore and then moved to the Rehabilitation units for long-term care. I was then promoted to become a Patient Care Coordinator and then a Nurse Manager in the Department of Medicine. After consecutive years of consistently meeting high Press Ganey (patient. satisfaction scores), it led me to the next step of my career, which was being promoted to director of nursing.

Then, in 2021, Peter Semczuk, SVP and executive director of the Moses and Wakefield Campuses in the Bronx invited me to become the Director of Nursing for Throughput Operations and help open our discharge lounge. My focus now is on healing our patients and working with our nurses and other staff to focus on barriers that might hinder their safe discharge or could unnecessarily increase the length of stay in the hospital.

Data is the driving force of the discharge lounge. Our data helps empower our nurses to think of discharging from day one – from decanting the emergency department to getting patients home safely. Sample data include the average length of stay in terms of bed saved hours per unit and when patients are discharged to the lounge. Our data reflects how each unit contributes to the end goal. When the lounge opened, the intent was to assist 10 patients per day, but that number quickly increased to 30-40. Approximately one-third of adults leaving our Moses Campus and emergency department are cared for in the discharge lounge today. We’ve also saved approximately 11,000+ bed hours, equivalent to more than 62 additional beds – a game-changer for a busy, urban hospital. Currently, my colleagues and I use data to help specific units achieve target measures for throughput. Nursing is so diverse and has so many opportunities. I enjoy focusing on throughput as this position focuses on relationship-centered care.

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What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

As a result of COVID, many new nurses missed out on opportunities to experience more clinical rotations when in school. When they arrive in the workforce, they depend on strong leaders and strong support to help guide them. Also, many senior nurses are leaving the workforce and preparing for retirement. This creates a more significant gap in mentoring and preceptorship by the senior nurses for the newer nurses. This is why it is imperative to have strong, supportive leadership.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Along with many of my colleagues and the outstanding nursing leaders at Montefiore, efforts are being made to help teach, engage, and provide more supportive and educational opportunities to meet the needs of both new and current staff. This month, for example, I conducted a Joint Commission mock survey prep for our radiology department. For many, it will be their first time participating in a Joint Commission survey, so I took the nurses on a walking tour of our radiology department instead of a formal class. We reviewed where some of the equipment, like the oxygen valves, were, and we reviewed the power of non-verbal communication, like body language. The message was that if a surveyor asks a question, then everyone should come to the support of one of our nurses. This sends a message of confidence.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Joanne Duffy, an adjunct professor at Indiana University because she focuses on the quality caring model and relationship-centered care. She believes in taking affirmative action to serve problems rather than identify and report them. I can very much relate to this.

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Maureen Scanlan, our SVP and Chief Nurse Executive, is inspiring at Montefiore. Maureen exemplifies nursing theory and practice goals, has a calm demeanor, and is always gracious, supportive, and professional. As I have transitioned to various nursing roles, she has always been there to advise me and ensure I am kept abreast of all nursing-related topics within Montefiore.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

Help, support, and never be afraid to try new things because success is derived from trying and learning – you never know unless you try.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

I have loved being a nurse at Montefiore. I have worked hard here, and Montefiore has been excellent and supportive of me. If you want to see and experience a family, community, and well-organized hospital, visit – I will have a hot cup of coffee or tea waiting.

Renee Hewitt
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